Ed Callahan, a co-founder of Callahan & Associates, used to say, “Follow the member.” That’s a simple yet powerful insight. And it leads to this equally potent question: “How have we improved our members’ lives?”
In our conversations with credit unions, we hear much about time spent looking at things like internal efficiency, regulatory compliance, the newest IT project, or HR initiative.
These are important and all need to be done well. There’s no debating that. Yet for many credit unions this inward focus doesn't allow them to "follow the member" as much as maybe they should.
So, how to do that? A good place to start might be focusing on “Jobs to Be Done”, a business theory crafted and popularized by Harvard professor Clay Christensen and ReWired Group president Bob Moesta.
Moesta says the Jobs to Be Done theory focuses on ways to “make innovation more predictable and successful.”
Let’s modify that to: “Our credit union focuses on ways to make our members’ financial lives more predictable and successful.”
Then answer this question: "What's changed for the better in your members’ lives since joining the credit union?" Or as Moesta would frame it, what have you enabled your members to achieve?
They hired you to help them make progress. Have you? Have they? How? Specific answers, please.
What makes this approach effective is that it’s you asking about them, not the other way around. You’re following the member.
We’re all surveyed all the time by companies who want to know what we like or don’t like about their product or service, what we would change or leave alone. That line of questioning is all about the company, not the customer.
Unless you’re following the member, you’re only guessing at what they really need and want. You’re working on assumptions. You’re guessing. Is guessing a core competency at your credit union?
Get better at asking your members the simple question — "what has changed for the better in your life since joining the credit union?" — and maybe you won't have to rely so much on educated guesses and sheer luck.
Ask that kinds of question and you can get actionable insight. You can listen, learn, and respond. And you can answer, “Here’s how.”