Keys To Improving Member Relationships

Tony Alessandra, a personal interactions expert, offers several secrets to treating members how they want to be treated.


Is treating others well just a matter of treating them how you’d want to be treated? No, says Tony Alessandra, a salesman turned personal connections expert who presented at ACUMA’s 2012 annual conference in Las Vegas last week.

Treating people well means treating them how they want to be treated, not how you’d want to be treated or how you think they should be treated. So how do you figure out what service members expect from you? Firstly, members give out cues through three channels: their words, their vocalization emphasis, and their body language.

Alessandra advises looking beyond members words to their vocal emphasis and their body language, which give true clues to their feelings. Are they accepting the terms of a loan with a reluctant tone in their voice? They may need more clarification on those terms. Are members crossing their arms or clutching their foreheads when they’re talking to financial advisors? They may need more options to help them resolve debt.

“People won’t tell you how they want to be treated – they’ll show you,” Alessandra says. “They will send you very clear signals.”

Members’ behaviors, as well as employees’ behaviors, tend to fall on one of four categories of core styles depending on how open or guarded and direct or indirect they are, Alessandra says: socializer, thinker, director and relater.

  • Directors, who are more guarded and direct, are driven by results and the bottom-line. They tend to juggle many things and work well under pressure. They value competition, but they are the weakest listeners. As members, they like solutions that help them save time, and they’ll likely make quick decisions on them.
  • Socializers, who are open and direct, like fun and positive thinking. They like speaking to people and getting them on board with their ideas. As members, they need constant written reminders because they are not as well organized and detailed oriented as other behavioral styles. But if they see a product they like, they’ll likely need very little convincing to move forward with it.
  • Thinkers, who are guarded and indirect, are intellectual and like to do things correctly. They tend to procrastinate on delivering on tasks until they’re perfect. As members, they need a lot of time and data and support to make decisions. They want you to be an expert on what you do and your competition but they’re skeptical of enthusiasm.
  • Relators, who are open and indirect, are driven by harmony and one-to-one relationships. “They ooze empathy,” Alessandra says. They are great listeners. As members, they are fiercely loyal and don’t like risk and change. They need personal assurance, not just data support, and a nudge toward products.

Credit union executives usually deal with each of these behavioral styles at least once a day and need to develop the relationship skills to interact with them. Keep in mind, members may have a core behavior style in one of these categories, but they may act differently depending on what’s going on in their lives. So, a true assessment of how they behave and how they want to be treated may take several interactions.


Oct. 1, 2012



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