One of the things I love most about credit unions is that they are agile, even scrappy. Credit unions often see their size as a disadvantage, but I think there are many advantages to being a smaller financial institution. The ability to have close relationships with members, an “everyone knows your name” community, and the freedom from the red tape that mega financial institutions have to contend with in order to make most organizational decisions.
So how can credit unions embrace their “scrappiness?” There are two major areas that most credit unions want to see improvements in anyhow, and those are lending and member retention.
You can make a lot of inroads in brand awareness through marketing and communications in order to get more applications, but have you ever looked at the other side of lending to find opportunities you might be missing?
When members pay of their loans, that is also a critical time to ask for their loan business again. Yes…it’s ok to ask for their business! Whether it’s a personal phone call congratulating them on their upcoming loan payoff, a personalized note with an offer for their next loan, or whatever matches your credit union’s culture, don’t miss this opportunity to connect with members and secure possible future lending business.
There are also some members who apply for a loan and then end up not funding it and signing the paperwork. Do you know where those loans are going and why? Was it that your loan department took too long on the approval, or they found a better rate elsewhere? Was there something your credit union could have done to keep the loan?
Credit reports are a wealth of knowledge. Are your lenders adept at reading them to find opportunities for members to save money by bringing their loans to the credit union? And, more importantly, are they willing to have those conversations with members? Successful lending is all about taking advantage of every opportunity, every channel, and every touchpoint to maximize the number of loans.
The game of member retention starts the moment a new member has opened their account. Take a close look at your new account processes. What opportunities are there to surprise and delight them, and take the time to differentiate your credit union’s experience and relationship building from all other financial services providers?
The first 90 days of membership are when your members are most likely to want to learn about who you are as an organization and everything you offer to help them with their financial lives. Onboarding programs are a great way to take advantage of these opportunities to showcase your culture, your employees, your differentiators, and your services.
Member education is a daunting phrase to a lot of credit unions, but it isn’t mission critical to have an entire department or an elaborate member education program. If your credit union is small and without a lot of resources, think of member education as part of the relationship building process. The credit union’s main focus is being the best financial resource for its members. If you live this mission, you’ll take every opportunity to get to know your members, their needs, their struggles, and be able to help them with the biggest moments of their lives.