Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

SwitchTracker: A completely new way to help your members make the switch to your CU

September 17, 2014

The team here at EverythingCU has been hard at work, making innovative and bold strides in the way things are done, and we’ve developed a brand new service to help your CU get stronger.

We know that one of the things that forward-thinking CU professionals on EverythingCU (that’s you!) are looking for, is a better way to help your members make the switch to your CU.

Enter your new secret weapon, SwitchTracker.

What does SwitchTracker do?

SwitchTracker gives your members everything they need to make the switch to your CU quickly and efficiently, in an easy-to-use format. Not only does your member get personalized step-by-step instructions, they control email reminders that keep them on track to the finish line. And when your member needs help, they can reach out to your MSRs instantly from within the service.

Here are a few barriers your members face in trying to make the switch, and how SwitchTracker solves the issues:

  • Multiple intimidating forms and paperwork – SwitchTracker has a simple and easy one-page input
  • Questions arise that the member doesn’t know how to deal with – SwitchTracker has a help button and instructions
  • Members are unsure in what order to do the many steps – SwitchTracker breaks it down into a step-by-step checklist
  • Switch process started, but no follow-through – SwitchTracker sends periodic emails to remind the member what to switch next

Demo Time!

Take a quick ride in the SwitchTracker experience. Even if you’ve tried it before, demo SwitchTracker again so you can see these new features:

  1. Instructions on how to complete each step
  2. Member or MSR can input the checking account number so that the member has it handy for each switch
  3. Ability to contact each organization to be switched via PDF letter or email
  4. Congratulations message with your CU’s loan department contact information when the member finishes the switch

When you demo SwitchTracker, click one of the printer icons on the checklist page to view the PDF letters generated. Also, be sure to check off all of your switch items, and then click the “Update Checklist” button to see the congratulations message displayed when the switch is complete.

For more details, view the SwitchTracker information page.

There’s even more to SwitchTracker behind the scenes in your CU’s control panel, including comprehensive usage statistics. If you have questions, or would like a personal online demo, please email me, morriss@everythingcu.com, or Matt, matt@everythingcu.com. You can be up and running with this new service to help members make the switch to your credit union within a matter of just a few days.

Bring your members the best tool to help them make the switch to your credit union: SwitchTracker.

We’d love to get your feedback on this exciting new way to help your members make the switch to your CU. Feel free to comment here or ask any questions you may have!

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The business value of personal connection

May 23, 2014

Who are you striving to be?

10275516_705648832830172_5588543601566778944_oThanks to this photo of Roy Bergengren recently shared by credit union advocate Matthew Cropp of Vermont, I realize that we now have fewer credit unions in the U.S. than at any time prior to NINETEEN THIRTY-NINE. Think about that for a minute…. what does that mean? Now some would explain that away saying that overall membership in the U.S. is at an all time high. So let’s put those two equations together: more people, but fewer institutions. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Just a thing?

What would Ed Filene and Roy Bergengren think? That after the past 75 years of credit union advocacy, we now have fewer credit unions serving all of America? Are the products better than before? Is the service worse than before? Is the differentiation between credit unions and banks better or worse than 75 years ago? Do we still have a need for credit unions, or has the reason they were founded pretty much gone away? Is there more opportunity than ever before for smaller CUs to succeed? Or is it just too challenging, and every CU below $10m in assets should just get merged into a larger one until there are none in this size range anymore? Do you need to offer every financial product and service that your competitors do in order to succeed? Or does that pursuit just drain time and money resources away from your CU’s core mission?

What is the mission and purpose of your credit union? Who are you trying to be? Who are you serving? What is your connection like with the members you serve? Tight? Barely there?

One of the reasons I bring up this topic is that it seems to me that more and more credit unions are basically operating as tax-exempt banks; attempting to grow no matter what, and becoming more generic in appearance and attitude (and losing connection with the group that founded them). To operate this way may serve the needs of the institution (although it may actually not), but in any case seems a disservice to the membership, and perhaps just as importantly, a disservice to the CU movement as a whole. If a credit union is going to operate like a bank, it should just acknowledge that fact and change charters and switch to being regulated and insured the FDIC instead of NCUA. That tax-exempt thing is not really that a great a business advantage anyway.

But the other surprising thing about credit unions operating like banks (aside from failing to live up to its mission statement) is that in many cases, the trend is away from generic large institutions and stores, and TOWARDS unique, local, and independent organizations. So-called “big box” stores are on the decline; while one-of-a-kind shops find their niche. Many people avoid chain restaurants in favor of unique eateries.

But being different, in and of itself, is not a sustainable business model. To increase success in business, you need to provide something different for which there exists a customer base. One way to approach this differentiation is to employ technology to make it easier for your customers to do business with you, whether that be in facilitating the process of ordering products and services, the delivery of those products and services, or help in using those products and services. From our own point of view; we’ve found that every time we make our own technology easier to use, more streamlined, and more personalized, it pays dividends immediately.

How are you using technology to differentiate and personalize your credit union? Are you using technology to strengthen the connection between your employees and your members, or is it weakening that connection? Who are you serving, and how are you making their experience with you easier and better? If providing “better, more personal service” is the differentiation point of your credit union (as many state), is your technology living up to that promise? What are your thoughts?

eSwitchKit enhancements

June 13, 2013

Here is the latest on the new developments we’ve added to the eSwitchKit. We didn’t sit on our haunches after the launch; we’ve already made some improvements.

One of the most important portions of the new eSwitchKit is the real-time status checklist that’s created for the member to use throughout the switching process. A major upgrade we’ve just implemented is the ability for the member to re-send switch emails and/or to print switch letters at any time, via their personalized online switching checklist.

For member convenience, we’ve also added an “Already fill a switch kit out?” login area on the first page of the eSwitchKit. Just in case they’ve lost their email with the login link, or can’t access their email, they can still log in and view their checklist to see the status of their switches. We’ve also implemented a password retrieval system in case they don’t have that info handy.

If you are demo’ing the eSwitchKit, then in order to experience the eSwitchKit’s full capability, be sure to input your email address as well as create a username and password. After doing so, you’ll feel the same hand-holding experience your members will be receiving. You’ll get a copy of all of the secure emails, along with the most important email; the email guiding the member to their secure and personalized eSwitchKit checklist. If you’re interested in the eSwitchKit’s full capability, be sure to complete this step. There isn’t another switch kit in the country like it.

Why is the personalized eSwitchKit checklist important?

  1. In one convenient spot for the member, they have a record of every company that has been informed of the switch, and can check it at any time to see the real-time status of each company that has, or has not, replied to the notification.
  2. The secure emails sent to companies have specialized replies pre-written within the email that use radio button technology. The vendor selects an answer and that answer is instantly updated on the checklist.
  3. The member can stay in the know at all times concerning their account switches and they can re-send and re-print the switch emails and letters any time they need to.
  4. The receiving company can send notes back to the members via the secure emails and the notes will appear in real-time on the checklist.

Click here to demo the eSwitchKit.

We are also extremely pleased to announce that already six credit unions have signed on to the eSwitchKit in less than three weeks. Welcome aboard Pam Griffiths and the Railroad & Industrial FCU team as well as Malinda Warchus and the Electric Service CU team.

Making online forms as easy as possible

May 14, 2013

I’m in the process of writing an article for CUES’ CU Management magazine, about KickStart Online Lending Generator and Holy Rosary CU’s results. Editor Lisa Hochgraf had some excellent questions for me which prompted me to do a little bit more research into the universal conclusion that removing barriers and streamlining online forms from the user’s perspective leads to better results and increased sales.

So I thought I would share with you some of the eye-popping research that I discovered (and thus why Carol and Holy Rosary CU are getting wonderful results with KickStart – i.e. 10.49% growth in their loan portfolio over the past 6 months):

• Google’s Marissa Mayer: Speed Wins

The $300 Million Button

How Amazon’s website usability affects consumer product choice (This is a lengthy research paper)

In addition to the above research on the importance of streamlining the user/member/customer experience to improve sales, we’ve done some streamlining of our own. One item that proved to ourselves that we get better results when we make things easier online is that when we took the step of pre-filling out our own Online Switch Kit demo for you, dozens and dozens of you tried it out, compared to nearly no one trying it out when it was not pre-filled. It seems simple, but often times the little things can make a BIG difference!

So in our continuing quest to make our own forms and demos even easier to try out, we’ve now also pre-filled out the already-simple KickStart Loan Request form to make it even easier for you to test that for yourself. Kick the tires on KickStart yourself right here: KickStart test site

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – did you find you got better results when your streamlined your online processes, forms, applications, and navigation? Was there ever a time when making things easier for your members online was a bad thing?

KickStart in action

March 7, 2013

Carole Wight, CEO of Holy Rosary CU in Kansas City, Missouri, recently shared with us an email exchange she had in regards to an inquiry into her use of EverythingCU.com’s KickStart online loan application:

Question: Once they fill out the on-line app, what is the process/member experience from there? 

Carole: Usually we are able to match the account number with the online application. We pull some quick loan data and promptly call the member back. Usually we have the information we need to move the loan to closing when we call so we are WAY AHEAD on the process.

Question: How has the process/member experience changed from before the on-line app? 

Carole: Before online application, they either didn’t call us because they were at work by the time we were open, or the process dragged on. They would call us initially and we would have to pull their credit and get back to them. All this took time and many times the loan was lost. Either because they never called or we didn’t have the jump we needed to catch the loan.

Question: How has it helped the staff in getting or processing a loan? What % of your loans go thru the on-line app comparative to the traditional process? 

Carole: That is a very interesting question. I don’t have a fancy system that captures numbers for me like this. I wish I did and I am getting ready to go there but I am searching for solutions. I would say 10%-20% of our applications come from KickStart. That is just a guess. NOW, if you ask me which of the most have the most successful close rate, I would say that KickStart helps us get closes. My staff like it because they have tons of information when they start to talk to the member. We have more loans because of KickStart.

If you have any questions in regards to KickStart, please feel free to email me at any time!

Announcing the EverythingCU.com Loan Report

January 31, 2013

Exciting news…. we are proud to launch a brand new product here at EverythingCU.com. Building on the long-running success of our Marketing Budget Report, we’ve now built a super-dandy Loan Report.

This Loan Report has all of the same great peer group comparisons as the Marketing Budget Report (virtually any number of peers from 10 to 5000, compare by Assets, Number of Members, or Total Loans), and compare by State, Region, or the USA.

But this new Loan Report has FAR more comparison data because the NCUA 5300 has much greater detail about loans.

This nifty new Loan Report lets you view these loan breakouts:

• Total Loans
• Mortgages
• Other R.E.
• New Auto
• Used Auto
• Credit Cards
• Unsecured
• Business Loans
• All Other Loans

And in addition, for each of these loan breakouts, we offer a full variety of View Modes:

• Rate
• Average Size
• Percent of Total
• Loans per Member
• Growth Rate
• Charge-offs
• Total Expense
• Net Worth ratios
…. and several more

But don’t take my word for it, try out the demo! In demo mode, you will be able to view only the Total Loan category in the “Current” View Mode. But all of the data is there if you would like to purchase it.

We think this report will be especially valuable for CEOs and VPs of Lending, but it is also great for CFOs, VPs of Marketing who are concerned with the CU loan portfolio, anyone on the ALM or Supervisory commitees, board members, and branch managers. So be sure to tell everyone at your CU who would benefit!

As with all of our products, purchase of the Loan Report makes it available to ALL registered employees at your CU. If they are not already registered, you can Invite Them Here.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

KickStart results are in… and they are outstanding

January 7, 2013

KickStart is EverythingCU’s new online lending product. Carole Wight, President of Holy Rosary Credit Union in Kansas City, MO is using KickStart, and is thrilled with the results.

With the release of the latest 5300 NCUA report through the Third Quarter of 2012, we now have some hard numbers that show Carole’s outstanding loan growth improvement with the help of her new KickStart Lending tool.

Holy Rosary’s Total Loans (Acct 025B in the 5300 report) over the last several quarters looks like this:


Dec 31, 2010: 4,758,649
Mar 31, 2011: 4,647,966
Jun 30, 2011: 4,623,701
Sep 30, 2011: 4,719,143
Dec 31, 2011: 4,918,250
Mar 31, 2012: 7,623,506 <– Merger with a smaller CU
Jun 30, 2012: 7,607,091
Sep 30, 2012: 7,906,605 <– 1st full qtr w/KickStart

So as you can see via the numbers above, aside from their merger, KickStart has helped them see significant growth in the loan portfolio for the first time in quite a while. Besides the 4Q of 11, and the merger in 1Q 12, loan growth has been almost non-existent or even negative. Now armed with KickStart, Carole and her staff are able to serve members who want loans who can’t make it into the branch for whatever reason, or who want to apply for a loan during non-business hours. This most recent quarter represents loan growth of the portfolio by $299,514, which is a 3.94% increase. If that rate of growth continues, the CU will see a $1.2 million increase on a yearly comparison basis, which translates to a 15% increase on a starting loan portfolio of $7.6 million.

You can understand how excited we are for Carole to be having such fantastic success with KickStart, and for her members that are being served even better than they were before. It’s a joy for us to see Carole’s happiness with the service backed up by the proof of the NCUA 5300 report.

Thank you Carole for being such a great KickStart client! We are so thrilled that it’s working excellently for you, your staff, and your members! We are eagerly looking forward to more credit unions adopting KickStart and helping even more members apply for their loans online quickly and easily.

For more information about KickStart, just click here.

It starts at home

August 30, 2012

Do you ever wring your hands that more people don’t know what a credit union is? You’ve sent newsletters, done radio ads, put up billboards, and still so many people don’t know?

Well, I’ve got a really important idea for how to take care of this.

As marketers, most of know that the number one source of new business is through referrals of existing business. So if you take care of your current members well, they will tell their friends and family. So let’s assume you are already taking care of your members.

Are you taking care of your employees too?

And what I mean is this: Employees are people. They are not bodies taking up space in an organizational chart. What could be more demoralizing to a person than being assigned an email address of Teller1@NotABankFCU.com. I bet YOU don’t have an email of CFO5@NotABankFCU.com or VPMarketing28@

So why do this to a teller? Because you have high turnover in the position? Of course you have high turnover in that position; it’s a hard job with low pay. But when you treat people like numbers, and EXPECT that they will be out the door soon, it becomes even worse. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and turn over gets worse, not better.

Yes, a big percentage of your tellers will eventually leave. But what about the ones that stay? What about the future CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and VPs of Marketing? Take a look at all the amazing programs going on for the future leaders of the CU movement, such as The Cooperative Trust’s Crash Events and CUES Next Top Executive.

I will offer this thesis: The best way to spread the word about what credit unions are is to treat every single new employee as if they are going to spend their career in the credit union movement, and eventually work their way up to being the CEO of YOUR credit union. If you treat every new hire in that way, sure, many of them will leave someday.

But here is the benefit: Even the ones who leave someday will enjoy their work more thoroughly. They will likely stay with your CU longer, thus reducing turnover. And most importantly, since you have educated them what it means to be a credit union, they will educate your members what it means to belong to a credit union.

AND….. for those one or two special people who grace your establishment for their entire careers…. YOU can feel special knowing that you have nurtured the next generation of credit union leadership. And it all starts with treating your new hires like they matter. Because they do.

Dropping the words Credit Union

August 29, 2012

Yesterday, Sarah Snell-Cooke, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of CU Times wrote an editorial titled Sometimes the best thing a credit union can do is give up ‘Credit Union’. This was brought to my attention in an excellent discussion topic started on EverythingCU.com.

Ms. Snell-Cooke’s editorial concludes with, “Get the consumers in the door first, and then explain to them about credit unions. The name on the door doesn’t matter – it’s what is on the inside that counts.”

Here’s the problem with this statement. As Snell-Cooke concedes, most of the general public have no idea what a credit union is. In addition to that, most staff working in a credit union don’t know what a credit union is. So CU staff are even LESS likely to educate people walking in as to what it is when the words are not even over the door.

Here is an imaginary conversation for credit unions who have dropped the words ‘credit union’ from their name:

Customer/member: “Hi I’d like to open a checking account. Do you have those here?”

Staff: “Why yes, certainly, I can open that for you. While we do the paperwork, can I tell you about what a credit union is?”

Customer/member: “Onion soup? I thought you guys were GTE Financial. Why would you tell me about onion soup?”

When the name is not over the door, mentioned nowhere, then starting a conversation about what it means to be a part of a credit union is as relevant to this new member as having a conversation about onion soup, which is what he thought he heard the staffer say.

Therefore I can not see the logical connection between dropping the words ‘credit union’ from an F.I.’s name as being a route to educating more people about what a credit union is.

Hub N Spoke Social Media Strategy

December 7, 2011
As 2011 comes to a close, we can safely say that social media has become the norm rather than the exception, since Facebook has more than 10% of the world’s population (800 million out of 7 billion) using its site. Even broadcast TV puts twitter hashtags in their show’s title overlays. Because there are nearly as many social media outlets as there are social media users, implementing an effective strategy can be overwhelming. However, a few fundamental principles can help you keep your aim squarely on your marketing and business goals. Join me for this 101-level webinar on how to encourage people to go where you want to take them…back to your CU’s web site.

Attend this webinar and learn:

  • One of the most important and fundamental techniques to increase social media success
  • The place to start all social media campaigns that most people overlook
  • A step-by-step checklist to make sure you have your social media bases covered
  • The different characteristics of the major social media channels
  • Two common social media beliefs that are false and what to do instead

Click here for more info or to sign up: Hub N Spoke webinar