Archive for category Training

Loans and LPs: Turning Credit Unions into Sold-Out Shows

Posted by on Friday, 22 March, 2013

The opening keynote of the 2013 CUNA Consumer & Residential Mortgage Lending School will be delivered by best-selling author and popular solutions presenter, Lee Silber. His presentation, titled Credit Union Rock Stars: Lending a Hand, will discuss the life and business lessons to be learned from rock stars and their careers.

Lee Silber, as the  King of Rock 'n Roll,  Elvis Presley

Lee Silber, as the
King of Rock ‘n Roll,
Elvis Presley

Lee was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few of the questions regarding his unconventional plans for this conference’s opening session.

You’ll be presenting on the lifestyle of rock stars and applying that lifestyle to credit union lending practices. Can you fill us in on the connection there?

You’d be surprised what you can learn from rock stars. Really. Okay, there is the “what NOT to do stuff” (bad habits) to not emulate, but there are some valuable lessons we can use in our daily lives to be better at what we do at home and on the job. Let me give you one example off the top of my head. Credit unions would not exist without their members, which are a lot like fans of a band. Those of us who have been members of a credit union for a long time (I’ve been a member since 1985) are passionate, devoted, and excited to be a part of something special. Banks are huge (like a super group) and almost everyone has heard of them, but credit unions are more like that band that is popular, but a little less mainstream–which is cool because not everyone is into them and that makes us feel a little smarter for being a fan. Maybe we can connect a little better because the band isn’t as popular and answers their own fan mail or plays smaller venues so we can get up close and personal. Our small, but awesome band (Read: credit union) hasn’t sold out, is in it for the long haul, and does it right–and does right by us. We’re loyal and love them for what they do . . . and do for us. See, the analogy works. We become “Dead Heads” (Grateful Dead followers) or “Parrot Heads” (fans of Jimmy Buffett) because we identify with what these acts stand for. Those of us who have a special place in our hearts for credit unions are “Member Heads” for a good reason; the people at our branch are like rocks stars to us when we make an important financial transaction.

In your opinion, what is the most valuable mindset to embrace when approaching a conference designed to open up new perspectives for attendees, like this year’s school?

I could try and equate the conference with a rock concert, but that would be a stretch. That’s not to say it won’t be awesome in its own way, but you won’t need to hold your lighter up to get a speaker to do an encore–but if you want to do that for me when I speak, I would be stoked. Okay, back to the question. In the music business there are several conferences (NAMM and South by Southwest to name two) where musicians meet to connect, learn, and find out what’s what in the industry. If there is any business model that has been turned upside down, it’s the music business. Everything from the way music is made and recorded (analog to digital) to how it is sold (albums in music stores to digital downloads on iTunes) and enjoyed (from cassettes played in cars to satellite radio and smart phones) has changed and the smart people are willing and able to change with it–and get ahead. If we look at the school as a chance to see what’s happening and how it can help us do what we do better, we will be much more engaged in what we will learn. There are plenty of parameters that control what can be done in the music business just like there are when writing loans, and music executives know they must find creative and innovative ways to work within the rules (if you are thinking about the payola scandal of the past and other record label tricks, it’s much less prevalent today) and adapt in order to get the music into the hands of those who want and need it. Sound familiar?

Followers and loyalty: definitely as important in credit unions as in the rock world. What advantages do you see in a credit union striving to build fandom rather than indifferent memberships?

A large and loyal following is the key to longevity in the music business. There are many bands that alienated their core fan base by trying to please the masses when their “members” were happy with what they had been doing previous to their attempts to be something they were not just because it was trending–and tempting. They lose the true fans of the band and after (maybe) a short bump in sales and popularity are dismayed when the fickle fans leave for the next big thing.

Fans for life are what credit unions want. A good example is a band like the Eagles where you will have three and four generations at a concert all singing along to the old songs. If we can create the kind of loyalty where credit union membership passes from generation to generation, we have the same kind of “sales” for our greatest hits album that bands do with theirs. Today, music is promoted primarily using social media which is, in essence, word-of-mouth marketing. When we do our jobs right and make sure our members’ expectations are exceeded, they will do the rest for us by posting positive comments on Facebook, in person and in passing, to other people.

Some might argue that rock stars live irresponsibly. Do you think there’s something to be said for calculated irresponsibility that a lending professional could embrace?

If rock stars were perfect, they would be far less interesting. Yes, it’s about the music, but we also like to see something and someone special out there doing things we can’t (or won’t because we’ll be arrested . . . or worse) so we live vicariously through our flawed heroes. At this point you are probably thinking, ‘There is no way he can tie this in to this conference and credit unions’–and you would be right . . . and wrong. We need to be shining examples of fiscal responsibility, be trustworthy, and know what we are talking about. Aha, here is the part you didn’t see coming. Nobody likes a know it all. Nobody is expecting a robot to help them with their loan. Nobody wants to be judged. If we can be empathetic, understanding, and non-judgmental by sharing our own personal experiences (good or bad) to help a member make the right decision, we should. If we leased when we should have bought a car and learned a valuable lesson from it, why not share it? If we bought a boat and realized “b-o-a-t” stands for “bring on another thousand” and maybe encouraged a member to make sure the boat is checked and double checked before buying it, what’s wrong with that? Be real so that members know you know what you are talking about because you have been in their shoes.

LEE SILBER is the best selling author of 19 books including “Rock To Riches”. He will be presenting the opening keynote about the connection between credit unions and rocks stars. www.leesilber.com


CUNA Management School: Expo Night

Posted by on Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

Two heads are better than one, or so the saying goes. However, after CUNA Management School’s Expo Night, I feel the time-worn axiom should be updated just a bit: 223 heads are better than two.

Students of CUNA Management School flooded the CUNA campus Monday for the annual CUNA Expo night where the future credit union leaders collaborated to come up with the next big idea that will propel the credit union movement forward.

Upon arriving, the crowd of credit union professionals split into groups based upon topics each student selected previously. Each topic focused on ways to strengthen the credit union movement, spanning a vast spectrum of issues including:

  • Taking Your Career to the Next Level
  • Getting Social Media Right
  • Raking in the Loans
  • Making Mandatory Compliance Training Fun
  • Attracting Gen Y
  • Increasing Credit Union Awareness
  • And more

The groups were challenged to come up with a BIG IDEA that addressed their topic and submit that idea to be judged by the entire room for its originality, practicality and overall inventiveness. Pride was not the only thing on the line. Each member of the winning group, as determined by a school-wide vote, would be entered for the chance to win $3,000 scholarship dollars towards their class scholarship fund.

Oh, and the entire event was being timed. Go!

You can imagine what happened next. Talking, discussing, listening, re-thinking, talking louder, debating, and eventually, innovation. After time was called, one team member from each group expressed their group’s idea visually on a piece of paper. Explaining your idea audibly was “illegal.” The CUNA cafeteria suddenly got much more colorful wallpaper.

Now for the vote. After all ideas were posted, each student was equipped with 3 “likes” that they could assign to 3 separate ideas. You could “like” your own idea, but only once, and you had to distribute all three of your “likes.” Here are a few of the most popular ideas, as explained by the students themselves:

  • BIG IDEA: Loan it Forward Program  This idea is based on the fact that the cheapest and most effective advertising is WORD OF MOUTH. When a member closes a loan, at time of the loan closing, they are given a $50 Loan it Forward coupon. They give this coupon to a friend, co-worker or family member. When the friend, co-worker or family member applies for a loan, the original member gets $50! Then at the time of their closing, the new member gets a Loan it Forward coupon to pass out and the cycle continues. With this promotion, the credit union’s loan volume will grow.
  • BIG IGEA: Attract & Retain Young Members  To keep pace with the large number of members, especially young members, converting to mobile banking, credit unions should develop financial applications to make it easier to access the financial resources they need on their smart phone. Some applications to develop include: Pay Merchant, Bill Pay, FaceTime with a credit union service representative, financial calculators, remote deposits, Pay Book and more. These resources will please existing members and attract new ones.
  • And the winner! BIG IDEA: Member Created Ad Contest In order to increase credit union awareness, CUNA and state leagues will host a national advertising contest. Participants will be challenged to create their own ads praising the credit union difference and will submit their entries by uploading their advertisement onto YouTube. The winning advertisement, as determined by either votes or views, will be featured in their state league’s credit union campaign and receive $25,000 in prize money. Runners up will have the chance to win 1 of 500 iPads.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. After last night’s event I can confidently say that the credit union movement’s future could not be in better (or more enthusiastic) hands. Watch for more big idea posts soon.


Member Business Lending in the Spotlight

Posted by on Friday, 9 March, 2012

Open for business?

Member Business Lending (MBL) is a topic that continues to generate a lot of buzz. Considering our current economic state, why are MBLs getting so much attention? Because they are one of the fastest-growing segments of credit union loan portfolios,  with an average loan growth rate of 4%*. Some credit unions are reporting even higher rates. CUNA’s News Now recently reported that in 2011, Michigan credit unions increased their MBLs  by 21.7%!

Other statistics to note:

  • The number of credit unions offering MBLs: 2,233
  • Average size of  credit union MBLs: $219,120

“While we know that MBLs may not be for every credit union, CUNA’s goal is to provide the most comprehensive information possible to help credit unions make an educated decision on whether to offer these services,” says Doug Benzine, Vice President of CUNA’s Advisory Services. To that end, we present a number of resources for credit unions currently offering or considering adding MBLs to their portfolio including (but not limited to):

1. Member Business Lending Resources;

2. CUNA’s Business Lending Institutes: Fundamentals, Credit Analysis and Advanced Credit Analysis; and

3. Consulting services.

Currently the cap on MBLs is 12.25% of a credit union’s total assets. As the national trade association, CUNA is advocating Congress to enact legislation which would  increase the  cap to 27.5% for well-capitalized credit unions.

Participate NOW in our Call to Action to increase the MBL cap, by contacting your  state representatives and urging them to include Small Business Lending Enhancement Act in the small business jobs bill.

*Source: FDIC, NCUA and CUNA E&S


Taking your Credit Union Membership from Crowd to Tribe

Posted by on Wednesday, 8 February, 2012

To us ‘credit union folk’, the value of membership is rooted in our core. We know that membership to a cooperative means ownership. It means we are a part of something greater, a community of shared interest, we’re among friends. To those who are new to cooperatives, or are just now discovering the value of membership and ask us to define it– we sometimes struggle to share the warm and fuzzy feeling that we get just thinking of words to describe it!

I’ve started reading the book “Tribes” by bestselling author (and also past CUNA’s ACUC speaker), Seth Godin.  On the book-flap, Godin describes a tribe as, “any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.” The book’s concept is to focus on leadership with a different spin, tribe leadership.

Win this book by sharing your examples below

As I page through the book, I am flooded with the Credit Union and cooperative parallels to tribes.  I’m amazed at the interchangeability between ‘organization’ and ‘tribe’ and ‘membership’.  However, on page 30 it really started getting sticky. Godin defines the difference between crowds and tribes.

Crowds and Tribes, he outlines, are…

“Two different things:

  • A crowd is a tribe without a leader.
  • A crowd is a tribe without communication.

Most organizations spend their time marketing to the crowd. Smart organizations assemble the tribe.”

How are credit unions ‘assembling the tribe’ versus ‘managing a crowd’?  How are we showing potential tribe members we’re exactly what they’re looking for?  On paper, it’s apparent that credit union membership trumps taking your money to any other financial institution. The 7 cooperative principles alone should convince any person off the street to move their money to a CU on the spot. To find out how credit unions are assembling their tribes, I started my search with ‘credit union principles’.

To my delight, I found a variety of great examples of doing it right:

Be Engaging – My favorite example of ‘assembling the tribe’ is how the crew at Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union   uses the principles as the foundation for their credit union’s blog – http://www.7principles.coop/ . The blog seems to serve as a primary communication valet for the CU’s tribe. This crowd has turned tribe with a widespread communication hub (I can also see they’re ‘liked’ by 895 Facebook friends). Also, their new ‘tribe leader’ is also featured in a recent blog post! 

Be Entertaining – One of my favorite CU videos by gira{ph}. This video spells out our CU Principles clearly in black and white (with a little red, too).

Be Fun – A great way to bring together your CU staff ‘tribe’ is to create an enjoyable work environment.  Have you seen this debut video from The Summit FCU last week? It must be gratifying to work for CU that can crack a joke, make fun videos, and capitalize on the latest craze!  With nearly 4,000 views in less than a week, the fun is definitely far-reaching.  Another fine example of assembling the tribe.

What is your CU doing to change your membership from crowd to tribe? 2012 is the International Year of cooperatives, what better opportunity to shout from the rooftops the benefits of credit union membership. Is your credit union taking this unique opportunity to engage your membership? We would love to showcase how your credit union is assembling the tribe (of membership, of staff, of potential membership).  Please share your best practices below and be automatically entered to win a copy of “Tribes” by Seth Godin. 

 

CONTEST NOTES: Contest begins today and ends on Wed., Feb. 15th at 11:59PM (ct). Winners will be chosen by a random number generator. Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  No purchase necessary to win. Void where prohibited.      This competition is offered by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and is open to anyone who comments on this post and is at least 18 years of age. Employees of CUNA and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.   CUNA shall not have any liability for any malfunction of or damage to the prize. The award winner may be responsible for applicable state or federal taxes on the value of the contest prize


Back to School

Posted by on Wednesday, 6 July, 2011

Ann Peterson

From Ann Peterson: 

I recently purchased my husband’s birthday gift: a ticket to fly on a World War II B-17 bomber, which makes a tour stop at the EAA AirVenture Convention in Wisconsin later this month. The convention is an international gathering of aviation enthusiasts. This plane is definitely a military treasure: Of the more than 14,000 B-17s built, fewer than a dozen are airworthy today.

With the price of that ticket, he could have flown round trip to San Francisco instead of 40 minutes on this 66-year-old aircraft, dripping oil from its engines (affectionately known as “bomber’s blood” by the crew). And I’m expecting it will be Indy-car loud inside the “Aluminum Overcast,” but he’ll be fine, ear plugs securely in place. If he’s bold enough, he’ll experience part of it from the bombardier’s seat, in the transparent nose of the plane.

Life is about experiences, after all. Sit back and enjoy the flight, I told him.

He’s pumped. It’s an exciting step back in time and a tribute to our heritage, he said. And I understand that. Because as he’s anticipating the flight of his lifetime, I’m anticipating my own adventure: Next week I begin my first year in CUNA Management School, a credit union movement tradition entering its 57th year.

After more than 20 years serving credit unions through CUNA’s training, public relations, and now–for 16 years–publications departments, I’m going back to school.

I’ve attended numerous educational events with so many of you over the years. But our focus clearly was different: You may have been listening for advice on how to boost loans, deal with the effects of corporate assessments, or design a sales culture. Chances are I was on deadline–zeroing in on succinct quotes for my articles, brainstorming a headline, or writing the lead. 

I’ve heard it said that journalists know a little bit about a lot of subjects. I’m no exception. I’ve written a lot of articles on topics critical to credit union operations–risk-based lending, ATM security, board development, data processing, succession planning, legislation and compliance, loan participations, debit interchange. Yet, did I really have a complete understanding of the leadership skills and knowledge necessary to manage a credit union today? And wouldn’t I be a better writer and editor if I did?

So I’m excited for classes to begin, to meet my fellow students, and to honor the school’s tradition. We’ll finally have a shared focus—and the same deadlines. 

But, I admit, I’m also a little anxious. As a writer, I can always come up with questions: What if I miscalculate my ratios? What if I can’t speak the ALM language? What if I fail?

 Then again, what if I just sit back and enjoy the flight?

Ann Peterson is the Managing Editor for the Credit Union National Association.


CUNA Volunteer Network 101

Posted by on Wednesday, 2 March, 2011

This past week, CUNA launched a new membership opportunity for credit union board and committee members.  I was fortunate to be working with this network for the past months as it was developed, but CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) attendees had the opportunity to see the members-only website as its launch was celebrated on Sunday night in the exhibit hall.

Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager

I took some time to sit down with Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager, who worked with developing and launching the membership to get his perspective on its usefulness and value for credit unions.  Read on to find out what he had to say as he prepared for the launch last week.

What inspired the creation of the CUNA Volunteer Network?

The job of credit union directors is getting increasingly complex, more demanding of time and attention, as well as requiring more expertise. It’s incumbent upon CUNA to provide products and services  to help directors keep up  with demand and to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. We see that directors get a great value from networking opportunities at our schools and conferences.  However, networking is challenging for them to continue outside of a conference environment. We also hear from directors who are traveling to conferences less often for a variety of reasons and they want a way to stay connected. There are a surprising number of directors at conference events using cutting-edge technology to try to keep up with everything (iPhones, laptops, Blackberries, etc.).

This all suggests that volunteers are very busy and need a community of resources to help them excel in their roles as directors.  Therefore, the CUNA Volunteer Network was “born” out of the necessity for board and committee members to keep up with credit union issues and connected with each other.

Is the CUNA Volunteer Network fulfilling a need that CUNA identified or was it driven by members?

CUNA identified a number of trends that inspired the idea of a network of volunteers.  Through focus groups of credit union volunteers, we fine-tuned the specifics of how that network would be delivered and what it would include to provide value.  We make a concerted effort to pay close attention to our directors to ensure we give them the tools they need, so this membership is an example of just that.

Due to recent regulatory changes affecting board members, CUNA sees the need for volunteers to stay up-to-date and connected becoming even more important given the additional expectations being placed on board members.  Volunteers are looking for more online resources, so a membership-based website was very well received by our focus groups and we thank them for their input.

What have you found is the most attractive value to credit unions to want to join?

By far the access to leading industry training, tools and peer advice anytime and from anywhere has been a big interest point for credit unions.  Specifically, the list serve, 20 online training courses, and Director’s Newsletter have been getting a lot of interest because of the value on a variety of potential topics each provides.

How are membership benefits different than the benefits of being a member of CUNA?

You have to be a volunteer or CEO of a CUNA and league-affiliated credit union to be a member of the CUNA Volunteer Network. The network provides opportunities that are focused specifically on the roles of credit union board and supervisory committee members. The membership benefits include additional discounts and access to tools and information CUNA offers, plus some exclusive options for just the CUNA Volunteer Network members at an affordable value.  Basically, if a board or board member takes advantage of even half of the tools available to them through the network, they’ve more than paid for their membership and it’s all served up on an easy-to-use and access website.

Learn more about the network at training.cuna.org/volnet.


What’s On Your Stop Doing List for 2011 (Contest)

Posted by on Monday, 13 December, 2010

Cool Faded Stop Sign by doortoriver

Are you like me – do you have a to-do list that never seems to get any shorter?  This time of year it seems like the list is never ending.  My blackberry is loaded up with task reminders, appointments, and  meeting after meeting.  My desk is wallpapered with post-it note lists of things to do, phone calls to return and I have a huge whiteboard detailing the many projects I need to tackle.  On top of all of that, now there is yearend wrap-up and 2011 planning.  So when I heard the following statement from Jim Colllins’ Good to Great it was a game changer for me:

 ”STOP doing lists are more important than to-do lists”!

According to Collins, one of the things that all great leaders do is create “pockets of quietude” to disconnect from their hectic schedule and focus on thinking.  Imagine that - taking planned time to sit back and think about your next big idea.  But how in the world can we fit that quiet time into our busy lives?  We can take a good look at our to-do lists and pick things that we are going to commit to stop doing. 

A few weeks ago my department watched a video of Jim Collins’ presentation at The 1 Credit Union Conference.   I had the pleasure of watching him speak live back in July, but getting to watch it with my team was even more impactful.  A group of us were so fired up afterwards that we’ve decided to start a discussion group to take the concepts and turn them into actionable items that will help take our team from good to great. 

Our first group assignment was to take one of the concepts and apply it to our personal roles here at CUNA.  We eventually plan on tackling some bigger group challenges, but we needed to start somewhere, so we’re starting with our own little realm of control.  I decided to try out the stop doing concept.   Somewhere along the line it seems like all of my tasks started to feel urgent, and I wanted to figure out what tasks truly were important.  For this first week’s exercise I found one thing that was getting in my way to really focus on big ideas was my e-mail notification.  Every time it would pop up I’d get distracted from the projects that were most important. 

So the first action on my stop doing list: I am going to stop allowing every single e-mail to pull my attention away from the bigger tasks at hand.  I’ve turned off the e-mail notification alert on both my blackberry and computer and have set up scheduled time to address my e-mail inbox.  It’s a really small first application of the stop doing concept, but for me it’s been a huge help.  In just one week I’m already feeling much more focused and am having a lot of  fun tackling the bigger projects on my to do list.

I urge you to do the same, sit back and determine activities to work on that are really contributing to your own personal success and the success of the goals of your credit union.  It’s a really eye opening exercise.  Those tasks that are blocking you from those key activities – add them to your stop doing list!

So, what’s one thing you can stop doing in 2011 (or now if you’re so inclined)?  It can be small or huge – you’ve just got to start with something.  

Answer that question in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on December 20th to give away a signed copy of Collins’ most recent book – How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In!

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Monday, December 20th at 11:59PM (CT). No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  Multiple comments are allowed as long as you have a valid idea in each comment. (No duplicate comments) The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  Void where prohibited.

UPDATE (12/21): THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED – CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, BILL CLANCY, WHO WON A SIGNED COPY OF JIM COLLINS’ BOOK HOW THE MIGHTY FALL.  THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!


What’s in Your “Thank Bank?”

Posted by on Wednesday, 24 November, 2010

Gratitude by kateausburn

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ”                           ~William Arthur Ward

Like you, I look forward to the delicious food and the many festivities of the season, to the gatherings and the rituals that signal the holidays are upon us. I look forward to seeing aunts and uncles, cousins and their children; to catching up with everyone, even if just for a few hours.

One of the things I look forward to the most is a tradition started by my mother many years back. Before settling down to the main feast, we go around the room and answer the question “What are you grateful for?”  I will admit there were times (during my ungrateful teens) when I didn’t find this exercise very endearing. As I grow older, it is one of the things I look forward to, and ponder, the most.

We are often so busy with life that we don’t spend much time considering what, or who, we are grateful for. The fourth Thursday of November is the one day of the year dedicated to giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives, (despite the peaks and valleys we all experience).  To find gratitude in our lives, we consider our basic needs:  Do we have our health?  Shelter?  Food?  Transportation?  A job?  Friends and family members (perhaps even coworkers) who love us?  These are just a few of the things on our list. The rest is just gravy…

Although Thanksgiving offers a perfect opportunity to express our gratitude, perhaps it could be a more frequent activity in our lives? After all, gratitude seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more grateful we are, the more we find to be grateful for.

A few ideas for capturing gratitude throughout the year:

  • A Gratitude  Journal :  A few times a week, jot down the things you are grateful for (or capture it on your iPhone via the Gratitude Journal App). When times get tough, referring to this journal can be extremely beneficial.
  • A Gratitude Box: This is one of the most meaningful gifts Oprah ever received. Inexpensive to create, the gratitude box can be given to a friend on a special occasion or duplicated for a special event (such as Thanksgiving).
  • A Family Thank Bank: Instead of coins, deposit small notes of gratitude into the slot of a piggy bank.  Similar to the gratitude journal, the thank bank allows the whole family to participate.

As warriors of the credit union movement, I think we witness gratitude more frequently than most people do. We get to see the looks on the faces of the members whose loans we approve, when other financial institutions have turned them down. We hear gratitude in the voices of the members whose problems we have listened to, and then helped solve.

One of the things I am most grateful for this year is being a part of this movement and of being surrounded, on a daily basis, by “people helping people”.  Thank you for all that you do!


A Salute to Credit Union Training & HR

Posted by on Monday, 15 November, 2010

ELL Advisory Committee members from left to right: Mark Stetzer (First Florida CU), Don Vaughnn (Sioux Falls FCU), Tara Whitmire (ELGA CU), Tiffanie Walls (Seattle Metropolitan CU), Autumn Tarquinio (Community Choice CU) and Marlo Foltz (Credit Union National Association)

Reflecting back on my trip home from San Diego after spending time with credit union HR and training professionals at CUNA’s Experience Learning Live (ELL), I made note of my top insights from the conference and the value of credit union training.  Here’s my top 5, but boy – credit union trainers never stop amazing me!

The All Mighty Trainer
As I spoke to attendees, attended sessions and experienced the ELLy award presentation (see who won), I was amazed at the awe-inspiring efforts of credit union training and HR, and of course the results they were helping their credit unions achieve.  From management know-how to loan growth in a down economy, the trainers and HR departments represented at ELL were unrelenting in their commitment to their employees and credit union.  In fact, many of their programs have been attributed to helping the credit union weather the economic storm of recent years.

Feel the Love
I attended ELL to spend some time with our credit union training and HR attendees talking about their use of CUNA’s training products and services.  There is nothing better for a marketer than hearing how much someone loves the product he or she markets.  I heard great stories from CUNA’s CPDOnline and Creating Member Loyalty™ (CML) credit unions about how much their staff enjoyed these services while their credit union gained better financial performance as a result.

Win Big with Scavenger Hunts & BINGO
Trainers want to win big, and did CUNA put them to the test throughout ELL to win thousands of dollars in goodies.  The excitement across the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego went up a notch or two when training and HR gurus were grouped to discover the hotel area during the opening mixer.  In addition, throughout the week the stakes got higher as attendees competed for BINGO prizes consisting of a CUNA’s CPDOnline membership, CML Product Knowledge, CUNA Pressing Economic Issues Series, Training Bundle and more.  Admittedly, I had my doubts if attendees would be up for some out-of-the –box mixers and knowledge tests, but those doubts were put to shame by attendees that competed fiercely and embraced an idea with unparalleled enthusiasm. Credit union training is in great hands!

The Credit Union Difference
Not that credit unions have to be told about this difference, but there is something great about sitting amongst credit union trainers and hearing them whole-heartedly believe and practice their ideals that credit union training does not equal bank training.  If you dare think so, or possibly believe that bank training can be passed off or slightly changed to accomplish credit union training, watch out!  When ELL trainers start talking about building their courses, service backed by credit union ideals is where it all begins.

Appreciation & Recognition
As I listened to the acceptance talks from the credit union trainers recognized with ELLy awards (see who won), it was truly inspiring hear the recognition the award winners gave to their credit union team, leaders and employees as well as fellow ELL attendees and CUNA as a part of their recognition.  Even while basking in the recognition given to them, the award recipients could not forgot those who helped them.

Summed up, all this inspiration, hard work and enthusiasm can only mean one action we should take.  And, so I ask…have you thanked a trainer today?


Delivering Happiness to Our Members

Posted by on Friday, 15 October, 2010

Treated Like Royalty...

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Technology Council Conference.  The Technology Council and the OpSS Council combined forces this year to present two amazing events in one amazing venue: Las Vegas. This format allowed participants to listen to keynote speakers in a communal space, while giving them the option to choose  breakout sessions from either the Technology or OpSS tracks.   It was my first CUNA Council event in over ten years and I was not disappointed.

During a break between sessions, I had the opportunity to visit Zappos, the mecca of customer satisfaction. If you have read any of my previous posts, you will know I have a soft spot in my heart for Zappos. I had signed up for the free tour  as soon as I learned I would be going to Vegas for the conference. A little before 10:00am on Wednesday morning I got a call from Andrea, “can-do coordinator” at Zappos and my chauffeur for the morning. She was calling to let me know she was a little early for pick-up (sweet), but when I was ready, she would be waiting for me out front. I was impressed by the fact that Zappos sends its employees (rather than a car service) to pick up their tour-goers.  I knew I was in for quite ”an experience.”

On our short ride out to Zappos, Andrea told me about her experience working for Zappos and how lucky she was to work there. Not only had she done the customary four week call center training program that every employee is required to do, she had passed up the $2000 they offered her at the end of that period, to quit. By month’s end, she was already enamored with the Zappos culture, and no amount of money would entice her to resign. In the three years she had been employed since, her passion for her employer had grown even stronger. I could tell by the way she looked me in the eye  (through the rear-view mirror) when she spoke, by the way she smiled, and the pride in her voice when she told me about her various tasks.

We arrived at Zappos HQ and Andrea escorted me to the lobby. There I ran into some of the OpSS Council Executives who were just commencing their tour. They were blown away by what they had seen. “It was so amazing!” Said one. ”It was worth the entire trip!” Said another. The conference hadn’t even started yet so they were in for quite a week!

After bidding them farewell,  I checked in with the receptionist, a tough looking guy who surprised me by calling everyone, including me, ”friend”. I spent the next twenty minutes drinking from my complimentary water bottle (thanks Zappos), quietly observing my surroundings. It was nearing lunchtime by then and people were milling in and out of the front door. Every single one of them either nodded at me or said hello to me, and not in a fake, “I should be nice to that lady because she is on the tour” kind of way. Every single one of them was genuine and… happy. And they were sharing that happiness, with me.

The tour itself was, as promised, absolutely fabulous. I don’t have time to go into details but I can tell you that the next time you go to Vegas, you MUST do the tour. Even if you don’t love shoes (like I do), you will get something out of the experience.  Like Zappos, the credit union movement is “powered by service.” Every day, we are “serving our members” and every day we have countless opportunities to WOW them. Are we taking those opportunities?

At Zappos there are no limits on call times and no “cue cards” to follow. Each employee is trained to treat each customer as an individual. They listen to the caller. They find out what the caller needs. And then they do whatever it takes to make that caller HAPPY. This has led to some interesting, and memorable experiences. It has also led to more than 8000 customer testimonials!! Zappos lets their customers due most of their marketing for them. Happy customers (or happy members in our case) do tell their friends about their experiences.

The following day, as I sat listening to keynoter Jackie Freiberg talk about 7 Choices for Blowing the Doors off Business-as-Usual, I thought “Jackie is talking about what Tony Hseih is doing with his employees at Zappos.” True leaders, according to Jackie,  ”Inspire, model and teach other team members to: Do Whatever it Takes!”

Is your credit union doing whatever it takes to grow membership? Are you asking existing members to tell their friends (and family) how awesome your credit union is? Are you encouraging them to open “starter” accounts for their kids (the future of the credit union movement)? Are you delivering happiness to your members and if so, are you asking them for testimonials? If you do get their testimonials, are you sharing them with the world?

The time is right to “Do Whatever it Takes” to spread the credit union difference, and to deliver more happiness to the world, and our members.