Baxter Credit Union serves 90 total employer groups, and is in the unique position of providing services to several Fortune 100 companies. Their business development team strives to have relationships and buy-in from every level of the organization. CUSP recently had the opportunity to speak with John Bratsakis, Senior Vice President for Business Development at BCU, to gain his advice about how to engage specific employer groups.
Bratsakis suggests that once a credit union decides to focus their efforts on a particular employer group, they need to tailor their approach to the specific personality and needs of the organization. “It’s really all about conveying what the credit union relationship means to the company, and what your credit union can actually do for employees.” He added, “This message can get lost on the employer if the credit union focuses on only explaining the laundry list of benefits that they can help provide. Instead, credit unions should explicitly demonstrate how they are actually helping employees, and proactively bring to the employer ideas about how the credit union can add value to the relationship.”
Bratsakis notes that the current sagging economic environment can provide the motivation for credit unions to partner with employer groups and offer services specifically tailored to the needs of employees. He added, “Depending on the local market, there may be opportunities to create programs designed to help members reduce debt and restructure or refinance mortgages.”
How can a credit union become more engaged with key decision makers at a SEG?
“This is where member surveys become very important. If you a conduct a feedback survey with SEG employees who are members of the credit union, this gives you a solid reason to gain an audience with the senior business executives.“
“If a credit union’s goal is to reconnect with an employer group, this type of information can be an extremely powerful tool.” Bratsakis adds, “It enables you to approach the decision makers with feedback that shows what the employees are saying about the credit union and how they are actually using the services.” The credit union can present this information along with the message: “This is the level of service that we would like to bring to more employees at your organization without any cost to you.”
Getting out a positive message to members and employer groups
As consumer confidence levels plummet to all-time lows in the current environment of economic uncertainty, BCU is making sure that their members and employer groups know that they are a secure institution, ready and willing to serve their needs. To get this positive message out, the BCU team has proactively offered online webinars to explain what is going on in the financial markets, how the credit union industry is weathering the storm better than financial institutions that are generating negative headlines, and that their credit union is safe, sound, and open for business in these turbulent times.
Their member relations and business development teams publicize these events through their website, branches, and employer group contacts. These webinars were well-attended events, and even attracted individuals from employer groups that were not members of the credit union. BCU was able to follow up with these attendees and simply let them know that they were available, and ready to answer any questions that they might have. Such proactive steps not only keep BCU in front of their members and employer groups, but can only contribute to stronger relationships in the future.