Your members are talking. Are you listening?

I’ve had the pleasure of delivering World 2.0 workshops to both the New York State Credit Union League, and the Georgia Marketing Council. In both of these workshops, one of the things we covered is the new communication service called Twitter. I’m sure that attendees never dreamed when coming to the workshop that they would sign up and learn about something called “Twitter”. Right now, there are between 350,000 and 700,000 people using it (accurate figures are difficult to get). Many of these people are artists, solopreneurs, bloggers, social media gurus, and Gen Yers, but more and more people are discovering this service every day. If you’re not yet familiar with twitter, it’s like an open instant messaging service. It’s a quick and convenient way to connect with old and new friends online. It’s easy to make new friends, and now, using Twellow, to find other people all over the world who share a common interest with you.

What does this have to do with credit unions and marketing, you may ask? Twitter is akin to an always-on, free focus group. If you follow your members on Twitter, you can get an open look at the issues that are relevant to them. This morning, I read my twitter stream as someone I followed, “Pistachio,” expressed her extreme dissatisfaction with Bank of America. Here are her tweets:

Pistachio 6/30 11:18 pm Bank of America’s check-clearing policies are predatory and should be investigated by congress. They get your money right away and sit on it

A friend replied 7/1 8:32 am: How long do they hold the check?

Pistachio 7/1 10:25 am BOA routinely holds checks 5-10 days w/very shaky “reasons,” often not telling you @deposit. they collect hundreds in “overdraft”

a different friend replied 7/1 10:49 am: i think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bank that doesn’t. try calling your mgr to get the hold removed; they usually will.

Pistachio 7/1 11:22 am Citizens’ holds are a fraction of BOAs. Thanks for tip, will call. Think I’m SOL once hold is on, from past exp. I should’ve asked

Pistachio 7/1 11:39 am You know, I’m actually not kidding that Bank of America should be investigated. They’ve crossed a line from crap customer service to abusive

Pistachio 7/1 11:39 And YES, I’m well on my way to moving all my accounts away from them.

These “tweets” elicited at least a couple of responses from her friends. More importantly, Pistachio is highly connected, and has 4,375 followers. Yes, you read that correctly, she has four thousand, three hundred seventy-five people who are reading what she types.

Now I’m guessing that there are currently no credit union marketing professionals “following” Pistachio. Fortunately I am, and am also friends with several credit union marketing professionals in the Greater Boston area. I tweeted a response to her, with the name of a credit union where a friend of mine works, and I also tweeted that that credit union offers EverythingCU.com’s Online Switch Kit, a product which makes it easy for new members to switch their account from their previous financial institution to the credit union.

Impact: If this frustrated Bank of America customer has a good experience joining a credit union, and “twitters” her relief from the outrageous fees and outlandish check hold policies, the marketing/new business impact is LARGE. Four thousand of her friends and colleagues will know about it. This is more valuable than sending postcards to 4000 people for three main reasons: She is a trusted friend to her followers, and anything she tweets on the subject is not coming from someone who is trying to sell something. Also, the pass-along value is much greater since it’s easier to “re-tweet” a message to others than it is to share a postcard with your neighbor. Also, the cost to tweet with your members is only your time, whereas the cost to supervise, design, print and mail 4000 postcards would be around $5000 or more.

Take Action: Monitor your credit union’s name using Google Alerts, and search in Summize, but also monitor your competition’s name (and the word ‘bank’), watching for those disgruntled bank customers who are just begging for the fresh alternative that your credit union provides.

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7 Responses to “Your members are talking. Are you listening?”

  1. Mark Vautour Says:

    I’ve been so busy lately with the name change and branch relocations that I haven’t had the time to sign onto Twitter lately. Thank you for the post and making me realize that I should be tweeting more often.

  2. Tim McAlpine Says:

    Very good points Morriss. I think your title needs to be “Your members are tweeting! Are you listening?”

  3. Mary Arnold Says:

    Morriss, just curious, did Pistachio tweet back?

  4. Morriss Partee Says:

    Pistachio didn’t tweet back at me directly on the subject of switching to a credit union. I did look up her (Laura Fitton’s) email address, to alert her to this blog post before publishing it, to make sure the contents were okay with her. She thought it was a great blog post, and encouraged me to link to her. She didn’t comment on whether or not she was going to actually open up a credit union account. Greater Boston encompasses a very large area, and I have no idea if the CU I recommended is near her or not. I didn’t want to push it further since I am biased, and didn’t want to come across as overly sales-y.

  5. Mike Templeton Says:

    Great thoughts and examples about why credit unions need to be active listeners. Microblogging isn’t going away, so you might as well get started now and begin participating in the discussions that are already happening.

  6. Ginny Brady Says:

    Hey Morriss, this post was referenced on today’s NAFCU post.

  7. Morriss Partee Says:

    Hi Ginny! Thanks for letting me know about that. I wasn’t aware of that blog (I am surprised that their entry didn’t automatically show up as trackback here.) Here is a link to the NAFCU post.

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