Do We Really Want to Know What Members Think?

As competition for our member's business heats up, credit unions are focusing on member services satisfaction. With new technology you no longer have to wait two years to learn how your service was today…




As competition for our member's business heats up, credit unions are focusing on member services satisfaction. With new technology you no longer have to wait two years to learn how your service was today…

Are Annual or Biennial Surveys Good Enough?

Many credit union marketers are familiar with the traditional paper survey mailed to members annually or bi-annually. The results from these surveys provide valuable information on members and their financial behaviors and perspectives regarding credit unions and other financial service providers. But most marketers wish they could “ask their members” regularly, gathering more timely information that would help them to package services, improve processes, or respond to members' needs. Just as eStatements started eliminating paper in the year 2000, eSurveys are eliminating tedious steps and costs in the process of asking members what they think. Credit Union executives are turning to shorter, more frequent electronic surveys to help them respond to changing circumstances and benchmark results.

Measure and Manage: A CU Example

I'm sure you've heard the old expression “You can't manage what you can't measure.” Even if you do measure, why measure every two years when today's technology can gauge satisfaction, help improve processes and reduce expenses 24/7 for pennies. For example, Northwest FCU ( launched four mini-surveys, in both electronic and paper versions, to gauge their member satisfaction rating. Their goal: Monitor the benchmarked customer satisfaction rating determined in their biennial comprehensive survey so that they could react/adjust accordingly.

1) NWFCU distributes the surveys in both paper and electronic versions (members with email addresses get an evite)
2) Survey is meant to complement biennial comprehensive survey and has overlapping questions
3) Benchmarks key operation areas and ties to comprehensive survey
4) NWFCU uses unique ID code for each member and imports answers into MCIF system for tracking/marketing
5) Paper surveys returned to CU are entered into survey software to analyze data and trends and create reports
Phenomenal Results!

In a recent webinar focused on online surveys, Valerie Passwaiter, Sr. Marketing Specialist for NWFCU said of their experience, “While we are happy with the paper-based responses to the surveys, emailed online response rates have been phenomenal. Emailed, online survey response rates are higher, faster and cheaper to process.” The table below shares stats on NWFCU's member satisfaction mini-survey:
Survey Method Email evite Paper Copy
Number sent 1,410 795
Response rate 18% 4%
Cost per survey delivered $0.14 $1.04
CU data entry cost $0 $0.50 to $1.00
Passwaiter went on to say “across our four eSurveys, members who were invited via email were 2 to 4 times more likely to participate, much more likely to respond within a short period of time, and required no additional staff time for response processing. As well, email costs are negligible when compared to postal costs. The best thing of all was the valuable response data that we received from our members.”

eSurveys Deliver Better Results with Less Effort

When NWFCU spoke with their provider of their Biennial survey service about putting in place a more frequent survey program, they were told to purchase a statistical software package and hire a full-time researcher. Instead, they opted for an online eSurvey program and email invitation service, gaining all they had sought, at a fraction of the cost.

Short, simple eSurveys delivered via an email invitation (or via paper with a link to the online version) are providing CU managers with a high-value, low-cost means to ask members to communicate their experiences with, and interest in, their CU. With today's technology, you can survey members without paper, postage, or collating surveys. Best of all the results are instantly measurable and, when properly planned, the action items jump right off the page.

How to Conduct a Web Survey Series

This article is just one in a series of articles on how credit unions are using eSurveys to cut costs, speed delivery and improve processes. Here are links to the other related articles in the series:
Request DigitalMailer and its partners have put together a report on conducting eSurveys. To receive a FREE copy of the “How to Conduct a Web Survey” document click on the report icon or visit our resource library at
CU Want to learn more? We have placed additional information in our FREE eSurvey webinars. Register today at
Free To subscribe to our eNewsletter that shares resources, industry trends, best practices and valuable lessons learned from credit unions and financial service providers, click on the icon or visit:
DigitalMailer employs active white-list management and opt-in email practices that help credit unions use the Internet to communicate with their members. Our digital communication products such as e-LERTs, eSurveys and eStatements assist credit unions in gaining a strategic business advantage and generate additional revenue. Please contact Ron Daly or Greg Crandell for additional information on products and services or to share your ideas and comments.



April 18, 2005


  • Interesting but extremely misleading. There is no mention of the sample bias caused by members who do not have internet access or the fact that e-survey respondents are less inclined to offer personal financial information on-line than on paper due to confidentiality concerns. E-surveys also tend to be shorter in length than paper surveys due to the limited amount of "real estate" on a screen. Mail based surveys do not take 2 years to complete as the article would have you believe. E-surveys have a place in research, but they by no means replace paper surveys. E-surveys are good at providing timely measurement of transactional, service delivery member issues but are not as robust or comprehensive as paper surveys in delving into such strategic issues as share of wallet, channel usage, competitive usage, key driver analysis and member loyalty.
  • I'd also love to hear about how to get around all of the sophisticated spam and junk mail blockers. I currently conduct a survey for one of our products, with an option for members to receive the survey by e-mail. The response rate is EXTREMELY low and I have a feeling that my e-mails are being blocked by these types of programs.
  • not many people are thrilled to receive long, detailed surveys. This method is ideal for a vast majority of our members. Thank you.