Entrust Financial Credit Union ($68.9M, Richmond, VA) knows the power of effective messaging. The credit union is redefining how members view their money and themselves with an onboarding process that offers concierge exclusivity and a financial outreach campaign centered on “Banking with a Higher Purpose.”
Starting this year, EFCU began offering each new member a dedicated member resource specialist (MRS) to walk them through the onboarding process. The idea draws on the personal banker concept from for-profit models but applies that benefit to everyone, not just the financial elite.
“The first impression means everything,” says Susan Adams, CEO. “We want to provide a welcoming resource for each new member who can be their go-to person during the first 90 days.”
The credit union started the onboarding program to instill confidence within the members.
“As a smaller credit union, with around 10,000 members, we have to work twice as hard as bigger credit unions and banks to solidify member relationships,” says Greta Kidd, vice president of marketing and member development. “We want our members to be so satisfied they bring all other services to the credit union.”
Entrust received a boost from Bank Transfer Day-type campaigns, but as a credit union serving only faith-based organizations, it wanted to do something special to appeal to its specific SEGs. Whether the focus is moving underbanked individuals into an affordable checking product, consolidating outside debt through refinancing, or providing on-site financial counseling at church locations, the credit union wanted everyone to have “the opportunity to feel good about their financial circumstances,” Kidd says.
“We felt we needed to be an advocate on our own and take the time to show potential members how to be good stewards with their finances,” Kidd says. “Our SEGs have been seeing a lot of financial distress, both among church members and other people who are served by these organizations.”
Entrust has already devoted two of its 21 full-time employees to onboarding efforts and plans to add more as membership increases. The reps primarily work out of an office at the credit union’s sole branch location, but the program is not designed to draw extra branch traffic that could potentially increase staffing requirements or other costs. Rather, the credit union’s onboarding promotes virtual channels, especially in the later stages of the relationship.
“The majority of our applications are electronic,” Adams says. “So whether a member emails us, calls us, or goes through our online channel to open the account, we have good reason to have that high-touch follow up. We don’t want them to feel like they’re just interacting with a machine.”
We're trying to highlight the good work the credit union is doing and making members better stewards with their finances.
The MRS handles all initial tasks such as legal disclosures and account openings. Then, with the member’s permission, they pull and analyze credit reports, offer guidance and analysis, and assist with additional product or service applications. Each interaction usually unearths a number of cross-sell opportunities, says Adams. But the process does not promote an aggressive culture where the credit union sells products at the price of the member’s well-being.
“We’re looking for new loans, but they need to be options that enable the members and not enslave them,” Kidd says. “We want to help them attack their debt faster through a more competitive product or rate.”
For advanced transactions such as wealth management discussions or mortgage applications, the MRS serves as a liaison to other departments, familiarizing those employees with the member’s specific situation.
“I want members to walk away saying ‘Wow, that was a different experience,’” Adams says. “I don’t think you can get that without personalized interactions.”
The specialists follow a set schedule for their outreach, which typically occurs by email or phone. They reach out the day after a member opens their account and again two weeks later to make sure they’ve received their debit card. Then there’s a 60-day, a 90-day, a 12-month, and a 15-month follow-up to assess the member’s ongoing financial situation and address any issues.
This ongoing contact and small touches — such as personalized thank-you cards mailed with additional business cards from the MRS — encourage members to refer new business.
The credit union calls its 90-day check-in the “fly-bird-fly” step because that’s when the credit union provides members with other ways to contact the credit union outside of their personal reps. Yet they’re hardly dumped from the nest against their will.
“Once members have established the relationship, they’re not going to be calling you every day or every week,” Adams says. “It’s only when they need something.”
In the fall, Entrust will launch a major marketing push that includes a video and radio strategy, new email blasts for members, and more community outreach and seminars. Entrust is still working on reporting and analyzing new member accounts and expects to have a process in place to document who is opening accounts with the MRS, what accounts they’re opening, and what services and products they open during the relationship.
The credit union also will enhance the concierge service with its new “Banking with a Higher Purpose" campaign, which features a micrcosite, social media outreach, and a series of TV commercials designed to reverberate among EFCU’s desired market.
“We’re using real members and testimonials about our service in these campaigns because it adds validity to what we’re doing here,” Kidd says. “We’re even getting new ideas and initiatives from other departments in the organization because employees believe in this campaign.”
The credit union is coupling the member testimonials with staff interviews about the advantages of being an Entrust member.
“We’re trying to highlight the good work the credit union is doing and making members better stewards with their finances,” Kidd says.
Although the program is successful, providing members with personalized service comes at a cost. Marketing cost per member has increased significantly as a result of this outreach. During the second quarter of 2011, marketing cost per member was $9.56. During the second quarter of this year, Entrust spent $14.70 on marketing per member. However, the credit union was able to repurpose many operational components such as the MRS staff, their office location, and other resources from existing channels to limit deployment costs. Once the program hits its stride, the credit union is projecting a 35-50% bump in loans outstanding as a result of “Banking with a Higher Purpose” and the MRS employees.
Says Adams: “We’re much better positioned to reach our goals.”
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