In Parts One and Two we focused on specific examples of credit unions delivering product-free messages and personal member service. In the final edition of the 3P’s series, we are exploring the theme of Passion. In the words of Elizabeth Hayes, Chief Relationship Officer and Senior VP at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union ($1.1 billion, Saint Paul, MN), read what the credit union learned after five years of constant focus on building its internal brand.
Creating a brand begins and ends with the senior team.
Branding has everything to do with the decisions, statements and actions of the executive team. Making tough decisions that are strategically aligned sends a clear, strong statement to employees -- “We walk our walk.”
In 2004, for example, Affinity Plus executives decided to terminate indirect lending because it was not a strategic fit with “building relationships founded on trust.” The decision was difficult because the program was generating as much as $16 million per month in loans. But the distance from the member was not conducive to relationship-building. The employees understood the difficulty of the decision and knew we were serious about our emotional goal once the decision was announced. If employees see executives making decisions contrary to your stated mission, your brand will never be successful.
Inspire employees to live the brand.
Your staff and your brand must match. If you want sales, hire people motivated by incentives who are passionate about selling. If you want people who are inspired by building relationships and doing what’s right for others, you must recruit and hire people who are passionate about people. Technical skills can be learned later -- you can’t teach inspiration and passion.
At Affinity Plus, we do not believe money motivates people to build relationships founded on trust. In fact, pushing product may undermine the very thing we are attempting to achieve if the member is placed in the wrong product or even the right product for the wrong reasons. We do, however, recognize – with bonus dollars -- teams for performance. We measure results such as the number of members who have responded with future business, higher levels of activity, higher level of trust and new members referred. In 2005, Affinity Plus recognized branch and department teams with nearly $500,000 for successful performance.