Mobilize your forces

Mobilize your forces:

using internal manpower at outside events to drive the member experience

Smaller credit unions (much smaller credit unions) withstanding, I have a feeling that most management teams don’t interact with their members on a daily basis. You may be the exception to this rule, however. If that’s the case, disregard this admonition altogether. I am speaking to the management teams that take a “hands-off” approach to serving the membership transactionally.  

Recently, I began to notice a trend when I would go off-site to onboard employee groups or when I would coordinate events outside our branches. Members would come to my table or booth, but not to engage me in conversation. They would come over and say something like, “Tell Phyllis I said hello. I’ve been at the credit union for over 20 years now and she’s always taken good care of me.”  

How much more effective would the visit have been if that employee had been there to shake the member’s hand? Would nothing have changed? Maybe. Or, maybe that member would have grabbed 4-5 of their co-workers and brought them over to meet their “personal” banker.

Leaders Credit Union branch manager AJ Massey (left) awards a local college student with a $100 gift card for winning a halftime contest during a sponsored basketball game. Massey graduated from the local college and was a natural fit to represent the credit union at this event. This was pivotal in giving Leaders Credit Union exclusive time to speak to new faculty and staff for their orientation sessions at the beginning of the 2011 school year.

As managers, we scheme promotional rates, build (or buy $$$) elaborate displays, agonize over the right giveaway items, and conduct drawings with the goal of attracting new and existing members to our event booths.  We’re under the illusion that a polished “suit-n-tie” presence at a booth presents a professional ambience that is desirable to consumers.  What we fail to realize is that, to the “everyman”, we’ve put up a barrier by appearing unapproachable.  How much money could we save, and how much more impacting could we be if we engaged our front-line staff with our members outside of the branch context?    

So I formed a team to augment my efforts by pairing myself with a different loan officer at each event. We grouped the event visit with the nearest branch, so that the loan officer could answer questions with, “Come see me, I’m at the branch right down the street and I’ll make sure to take care of you.” Of course we still bring the standard fare giveaways and our booth presents a nice brand, but the focus is on making the engagement as low-pressure as possible. No longer does the ominous 6’ x 6’ expandable display make an appearance at every event, and you won’t find any flashing neon lights or sidewalk sign-twirlers coaxing you to stop by our table.

What you will find are more folks hanging around the credit union booth these days, and enjoying their time there because they were able to find people they know.