How Big Changes Can Affect Your Net Promoter Score

Learn what your credit union can do to rebound and preserve member loyalty before, during, and after a strategic transition.


Most credit union executives have seen firsthand the impact that large-scale changes can have on a cooperative’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). People generally have an initial negative reaction to change, even when it is needed or beneficial. 

After collecting over one million surveys and analyzing member responses, Member Loyalty Group can share some best practices to help credit unions preserve or even recover member loyalty levels as they undergo upgrades, mergers, and other necessary changes in their business model.

What Is A “Big” Change?

While many associate mergers or key member-facing conversions (such as online banking or bill pay overhauls) with changes in NPS, there are a number of other scenarios that can have a significant impact on your credit union’s score. These can include:

  • New/changing fees
  • Branch closures
  • Major staff changes

The chart below shows the NPS trend lines for several different credit unions after going through what would qualify as “big changes.” The green line demonstrates the dramatic impact that big change can have on NPS and the rebound period that follows. The other lines show organizations that experienced more moderate dips and/or faster rebounds.


There are a number of different factors that can influence how much NPS dips as well as potential recovery times. For example, if any type of change is not viewed positively by members, NPS will not rebound as quickly.

One simple example of this is a bill pay upgrade. If the new solution is touted as having improved security or enhanced features, scores may not dip as significantly and should rebound more quickly than if the same type of upgrade had no positive benefits — or worse, yet, negative consequences — for members. 

How Can Credit Unions Manage Change Successfully?

People typically react to two aspects of change:

  1. The process side — what needs to be done differently, how the new process will look, the sensory aspects, etc.
  2. The emotional side — i.e., How do I feel about the change?

MLG_2   how_we_typically_prepare

Credit unions must be careful not to place so much emphasis on the process side that they overlook the emotional aspects of these changes for their membership.

Planning For The Emotional Impact

When preparing for a change, it’s important to take time to think about what drives members’ emotions. What do they care about most? Typically, family and friends — along with self identity and beliefs — rank very highly. Consumers want to take care of themselves and their families with love, but also with food, shelter and other items that require money.

Therefore, if a potential change impacts their access to money, members' emotions can run high very quickly. When these emotional aspects are not addressed, members may jump to the wrong conclusions or assume the institution is not looking out for their needs.  

The following is a good example of how to address both the process and emotional aspects of a singular change, in this case a debit card re-issue.  In order to minimize any impact to its NPS, the credit union undergoing this transition actively planned out members’ emotional reactions, as well as the actual process for re-issuing cards, using a Member Corridor map.


The “Member Corridor” Map

For this cooperative, being prepared for any potential reactions made it easier for the staff to reassure membership when those concerns emerged.

In planning for future projects, make sure that you too understand and anticipate the potential for change in NPS. Ask yourself questions like, “What are some of the things that can happen to members?” and “How can we anticipate these so we can create heroic saves?”

Planning For Multiple Changes

When it comes to larger-scale transitions like mergers, there are multiple processes going on that may trigger emotional reactions from members. These activities can include things like the reissuing of debit cards or new account numbers, and online banking changes.

Uncertainty, anger, and frustration are all common emotions when a big, multi-phase change occurs and the potential backlash can be difficult for staff to handle if they are not prepared in advance. But there are effective ways to mitigate this fallout, even in large-scale transitions.

For example, one credit union undergoing a merger decided to put a dedicated call team in place, led by one of the organization’s best leaders. Their goal was to make sure members received a message of “We care about you” along with the necessary instructions for new processes at the credit union.

Special communications were also sent to the new members being merged into the credit union. By proactively reaching out to both parties and addressing any concerns, the organization was able to retain and even grow their member loyalty throughout the merger.

Preparing For A Rebound Period

Change is necessary and cannot always be broken up into bite-sized chunks. While your credit union can and should plan to address the emotional aspects of change, it’s important to be realistic and anticipate at least a reasonable rebound period for your NPS.  The average recovery periods for two of the most common scenarios — a change in online banking and a merger — are six months and 12 months respectively.



About Member Loyalty Group

Member Loyalty Group is a CUSO formed by leading credit unions in 2008 to develop a common member loyalty benchmark for the credit union industry.  The CUSO has an exclusive relationship with Satmetrix, the Net Promoter® company, to provide credit unions with the most effective tools for managing a Net Promoter® program to collect and act on member feedback that increases loyalty, growth and retention.   Member Loyalty Group is the winner of NACUSO’s 2012 Collaboration & Innovation Award and serves over 30 credit unions, many of which are over $1 billion in assets, across the country.  For more information visit or contact us at

About The Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the simplest and most accurate measurements of member loyalty in a credit union's marketing toolkit, a metric that can be tied directly to growth.  By asking a single question — Would you recommend us to a friend, family member, or colleague? — the credit union knows immediately if there's a problem. 

© Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.



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