Posts Tagged ‘membership’

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?

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Thank you, Executive Members

April 18, 2011

On this bright and shiny spring morning (Patriot Day if you live in the state of Massachusetts), I’d just like to take a minute to thank all of you Executive Members of EverythingCU. Many of you have been with us since the very early days of the site (2001-2002), and many of you have joined the community along the way. I’m always gratified, honored, humbled and awestruck about the comments you have for the community here. And thank you for sharing the EverythingCU love with so many of your peers and colleagues, at your own, and other credit unions.

I know that this economy continues to be very tough, for both your credit union and your members, which is why we appreciate all the more that so many of you have kept EverythingCU Executive Membership in your budgets. There are currently 270 credit unions who are Executive Members, representing a combined 1,181 credit union professionals.

Just in case you aren’t completely familiar with all the benefits of Executive Membership, let me remind you of them so that you can be sure you are taking full advantage of your benefits.

• Executive Membership applies to all employees at your credit union, no matter if they are already signed up on EverythingCU, or if they sign up later, while the CU’s annual Executive Membership is still in effect.
• Executive Membership allows you to download an unlimited number of documents from the 1451 that you’ve contributed over the years.
• Executive Membership gets you discounts on the products that we offer, including the Online Switch Kit, Marketing Budget Report, Plumwall, Beehive, and Video Tutorials in the Knowledge Warehouse.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, Executive Membership also gives you the option to post messages on the discussion anonymously for those times when you have a controversial topic you’d like to discuss without fear of reprisal.

If you are already an Executive Member, be sure to tell your colleagues at your credit union that they should register on the site so that they too can enjoy the benefits of your credit union is already receiving.

So thank you again, and enjoy this fine spring day!

Yup, there’s a CU for that

January 7, 2010

Having been in the wonderful world of credit unions for 14 years now, I have grown accustomed to discovering that credit unions exist for some really great organizations. But I realize that not everyone is aware that some of these fine institutions HAVE credit unions because they often fly under the radar. Here are just a few of the best credit unions I’ve run across that you probably haven’t heard of before:

White House Federal Credit Union – Yes, the employees of the West Wing have their own credit union. Is POTUS a member? Have previous POTUSes (Potusii?) been members? We’ll never know since their membership roster is not public information. White House FCU has been around since 1935, one year after FDR signed the Federal Credit Union Act making credit unions possible in every state in the nation. And EverythingCU is proud to have two employees there as members of our site.

Kennedy Space Center Federal Credit Union – We’ve put a man on the moon, helped set up the international space station using our space shuttles, sent rovers on to Mars’ surface (and it tweets), and even set up stereo satellites so that we can better understand emissions from our sun. There’s a credit union at Florida’s space coast that has been serving the fine men & women on the leading edge of space exploration since 1963, and EverythingCU has had members there since our inception.

Treasury Department Federal Credit Union – I think this must be one of the most delicious credit unions of all. Think about it….. the employees of the Department of the Treasury, that is, the organization charged with the stewardship of the U.S. economy and the security of the U.S. and international financial systems, saw fit to create their own credit union in 1935. And it’s still going strong today. EverythingCU.com doesn’t have any members from this special credit union on our site, but we’d welcome them with open arms if they discovered our credit union resource.

What does it say that some of the best and brightest people in our financial system have their own credit union?