Relationship. Communication. Trust. Understanding. Hold up…are we on the same page? I am not talking about a marriage here, folks. These are things that most credit unions want with their members, and what most members want from their credit union.
So what if we took it to the next level?
My vision is to enhance the relationships, communication, trust, and understanding that we currently have with our members by creating a strategic network of individuals who will provide input and feedback on our Credit Union. This strategic network, a.k.a. “advisory board” may sound like a whole lot of boring. I get it. It may be the thought of a stuffy group of suits, that only care about their own wants and needs that leaves you cringing. (Ahem…you may be thinking of that dirty 4 letter word, B-A-N-K. Let’s not go there.) Or it may be the question of “Why do we need another board, don’t we already have one?” These, and many others, are all perfectly acceptable thoughts, but I am confident that I can demonstrate the value in this project.
One of the biggest challenges we face in our Minnesota market is a struggle with our identity. When Royal Credit Union entered this new market from Western Wisconsin, there were many elements to overcome. The communities were different. The demographic was different. The way members embraced technology was different. As a Branch Manager, running 3 branches in the Twin Cities metro area that serve 12 counties, over 200 cities, thousands of communities, and a population well over 3 million people, it can be perplexing to know and anticipate the needs of our members, businesses, and communities.
I am currently working on identifying members in our Minnesota branches that are interested in serving in the capacity of “advisor” to the Branch Manager.
Who are we looking for?
We are seeking active and engaged members from cross segments of our membership, who live our core values, are willing to learn from each other, and want to create and promote positive change.
What are the key objectives of this group of members?
- Define what they are seeking in a financial relationship
- Provide feedback on existing products and services
- Share how we stack up against the competition
- Provide feedback on their service experience through any of our delivery channels
- Suggest improvements and efficiencies to provide better service
- Participate and make recommendations on ways to be involved in the community
- Learn first-hand about upcoming promotions and/or new products & services
- Act as advocates for the Credit Union in our communities
To kick off the project, this group of members will meet every other month for a one-hour meeting. The goal is to stay connected between meetings through social media channels, email, and phone calls as necessary.
The Business Need
There are a lot of other ways to get feedback. Surveys. Focus groups. Mystery shops. What I am looking for is ongoing conversation and collaboration with members that want to work together to make a difference. Collaboration promotes learning. Learning is what every organization needs to be able to understand what their strengths and weaknesses are.
We want to be able to fulfill our strategic goals into the future, which means creating and maintaining highly satisfied and engaged members. Value will come from working together with our members towards a common goal. Members are included in the process and their voice is being heard. The outcome will build long term relationships, a solid foundation of trust, and ongoing learning from one another. Our goal is to have our finger on the pulse, which will allow us to be on the cutting edge, and eventually anticipate what our members need before they even need it!
The opportunity to expand this idea into other branches and regions within Royal Credit Union is high. Learning to love the differences between our branches and communities we serve, and working to identify how they can complement each other, will only make us a better organization. My hope is that this project is something that can also be applied at other credit unions to provide growth and viability to the future of our industry.
So, I leave you to ponder this quote. Do you want to have a competitive advantage?
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” ~ Jack Welch