Reach Out For Relationships

Member onboarding is a delicate but valuable process that Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union manages well.


*This article has been updated to reflect that Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union merged with First Tech Federal in 2010.

Ninety days is not long. For credit unions, however, the first three months of membership is a fertile time for cultivating new relationships. This initial period establishes the parameters — number of services, wallet share, depth of the relationship — of the member’s connection with their financial institution. For this reason, a solid onboarding plan goes a long way in building lifelong members. Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union’s ($2.4B, Palo Alto, CA,) — now First Tech Federal Credit Union ($6.8B, Mountain View, CA) — member onboarding includes multiple contact points that generate rapport.

“It’s about building relationships,” says Debbie Granico, eBranch director at Addison Avenue. The credit union relies on a strategy that is uniform across all channels. Granico oversees member onboarding for the credit union’s call centers and online channel. The program is both thorough and nuanced and includes numerous member contacts within the first 93 days of the relationship.

The calendar unfolds this way:

  • Day 8: The credit union calls the new member to welcome them and confirm they’ve received all of their materials (debit card, checks, etc.). With permission, call center agents ask members a series of questions to gauge current and future needs. This call sets the expectation for future contacts.
  • Day 15: A second call serves as a check-in. If the member is available, the agent will educate the member on Addison Avenue’s online services.
  • Day 30: Based on the profile of the member, the credit union sends a letter or e-mail detailing products that might interest the member. This letter is not a hard sell.
  • Day 33: The credit union calls the member to confirm they received the correspondence and to answer any questions.
  • Day 60: Another e-mail check-in. If the member has shown interest in a product or service, the credit union sends a reminder but avoids the hard sell.
  • Day 63: The credit union calls the member to answer questions or address concerns.
  • Day 90: Another e-mail check-in.
  • Day 93: The credit union calls the member to tell them they have qualified for e-deposit. The credit union congratulates the member, explains the service, and gives the member the opportunity to ask questions.

After the first 93 days, the member generally works with their personal banker for future needs but can also direct questions to any of the credit union’s channels (online, call center, or branch). After this initial onboarding period, the credit union moves the member into what Granico calls a “Future Book of Business,” which reminds agents to check in with the member to determine their service needs.

Addison implemented its onboarding program two years ago, and the results are exciting. For the company’s e-branch performance:

  • Core share growth is up 12% over 2009
  • Consumer loans are up 10% over 2009
  • Savings accounts are up 18% over 2009
  • Checking accounts are up 36% over 2009

The process is important, but fundamentally, the quality of the people in the call centers is what makes the difference, Granico says.

“You have to have the right people in the seats.”

Multiple points of contact are about building relationships, not solely generating sales figures, and agents must be on board with this concept. Addison Avenue’s system emphasizes maximum contact without intrusion, relationships over sales. The rapport the credit union builds drives its performance, strengthens the bottom line, and adds value to its member relationships.