Why Should Members Do Business With You?

Here are three steps you should take to ensure you have your members' best interests at heart.




Simple - because they feel you have their best interests at heart. Here are three steps you should take to insure you deliver on your value proposition.

Step 1: Define your value proposition in specific terms
There are generally three ways to deliver member value:

A. Operational Excellence. Like Wal-Mart, the goal here is to deliver services at the lowest price, ‘always’. Your credit union probably offers great rates on many products, but the ‘always’ part makes for tough sledding when you lack the scale of BofA

B. Product Excellence. While you may offer some unique products, financial products are rapidly commoditized. So this is difficult even for the institutions with scale.

C. Customer Advocacy. Here the goal is to know and serve the needs of your members better than anyone, to be a proactive advocate for your member. True customer advocacy means putting the needs of your member ahead of the goals of the credit union.

There are no right or wrong answers here, rather, the key is to choose one as your primary value proposition and accept the other two as important but secondary.

Step 2: Communicate your value proposition
Clearly communicate your value proposition to members and staff. Every staff person in your organization should be able to consistently explain why a prospective member should do business with the credit union instead of a bank in 30 seconds or less.

Step 3: Establish an environment which motivates your team to deliver
This is not a passive exercise! This will require you to fundamentally question the way you do business today. For instance, if you choose customer advocacy as your primary value proposition, things to consider include:

- Does everyone in your credit union from your member service representatives on up ‘walk the talk’? It’s one thing to communicate your value proposition it’s quite another to get organizational alignment.

- Are the proper incentives and metrics in place to encourage member advocacy? For example, is it fair to ask a call center rep with a 4 minute call time constraint to provide trusted advice to a member needing debt consolidation?

- Can your staff credibly advocate for your members? Specifically, have you achieved sufficient operational efficiency to offer competitive rates, 70+% of the time?

- Are you prepared to recommend a member go to another institution, if in fact the credit union doesn’t offer the product that best meets their needs?

- Are you ready to make the investment in staff training or tools to insure that your team is better equipped to advocate for your members than your competitors?

- Can you build channel strategies (branch, call center and web) that consistently differentiate your credit union from focused competitors like WAMU, Countrywide, Capital One and LendingTree, who offer expert support 7X24?

This process isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to evaluate your organizational and operational practices as well as the very culture of your credit union. Take immediate steps to reinforce those elements that support your chosen value proposition and discourage those that don’t. This will galvanize what your credit union stands for today, but even more importantly, what it will stand for 10 years from now.

Experion Systems provides automated advice technology to enable cross-channel customer advocacy. Experion’s trusted advisor solution is generating outstanding results at a growing number of credit unions. To learn more click here to sign up for their periodic e-newsletter or visit their web site at www.experionsystems.com.




Oct. 4, 2004


  • In the article, Ross asks the basic question I have been asking my staff for the past 20 years. Why would a prospective member close a banking relationship they have had for 20 years and bring that account to our credit union? If we can't answer that question to the member's satisfaction, we probably won't get the business. Unfortunately, many times the answer is that they probably woul;d not be better off with an account at the credit union. Paul Simkins, CEO, CORE CU
  • Great start the the key strategic question!!
  • Hi Ross. You say, every staff person in an organization should be able to communicate the organization's value proposition in 30 seconds or less? Fantastic concept. It's the mission statement equivalent to the "elevator pitch" for sales people...succinct, distilled to the absolute, persuasive truth & right on target.