It's all in the delivery
It is understood in the industry that retention of membership improves dramatically when each member participates in one additional credit union program. Ultimately, each credit union sets a goal to be each member's primary financial institution. Effective delivery will bring your institution a step closer to that goal. Meaningful programs have the best opportunity for approval by your credit union when they provide a unique benefit that is available based on credit union membership. Care is then required in choosing providers that share the credit union culture and are familiar with the special relationship between your member and your credit union. This due diligence involves checking vendor references to determine the extent of their credit union experience and history in delivering products that are measured superior against industry standards. Choosing the "right" partner will get you a quality program with a proven vendor. However, success will be measured by how effectively the program will be delivered into the hands of your members. Delivery requires a business plan with a step by step approach. There must be a distribution system in place that continuously provides benefit and will not rely on a surge of interest spurred from an initial introductory promotional event. Someone needs to be responsible for the results and drive the program to successful predetermined levels. The credit union needs to have an identified individual as well as the vendor. Each program requires some level of your credit union resources to install and run effectively. This level must be determined during the due diligence and selection process. There is often a tremendous variance between vendors with regard to this variable. Once you have selected a vendor for your program, the credit union driver must wisely allocate the necessary time and energy. Often the cost of the program can be minimized and the success accelerated by working with the right partner provider. Collaboration between your credit union and your selected vendor can assure successful delivery. This is a huge opportunity for marketing directors and credit union management. Vendors are anxious to share ideas and develop plans that deliver more products which will ultimately increase their value to their credit union partners. It is possible to achieve the perfect balance between in-house marketing and a dynamic third party provider. Credit union personnel can tap the powerful potential of a good partner through joint participation in planning as well as execution. The result of this process is a trust that enhances the reach of the marketing department. For example, some vendors will go the extra mile and cross-sell additional credit union products along with their core program. Such a relationship can only be possible if the credit union and the vendor understand the win-win opportunities that exist through this mutual effort. If a vendor is only willing to bring their singular product to the membership, there may be countless opportunities missed to properly service your membership. Members need to own or use multiple products and services to bring value to the credit union and also appreciate the value of their membership. Most importantly, delivery means reaching out to the member. Waiting for members to come and inquire about services does not reflect a philosophy of care. In fact, through the use of ATM's, drive-up windows and ultimately online banking, fewer members are actually being seen each year by Member Service Representatives. It is all too easy for a vendor to point to sophisticated marketing materials, phone messaging and Web pages. All of these are useful tools to attract member participation, however they do not replace seeking opportunities to approach members. These opportunities exist in lobbies and even more importantly at SEGs. Delivery of services to members and potential members where they work is the most effective way to accomplish multiple goals for the credit union while providing the ultimate in convenience for their members. There are very few vendors that specialize in SEG marketing and development. Such partnerships could be the key to future growth and program success. Good delivery strengthens ties to your SEGs. In order to effectively harvest the member relationships out of each SEG, care and attention is required. Too often after the initial introduction at employer groups, the credit union focus turns to the next new SEG. An outstanding distribution network that has the ability to market to your SEGs will maintain the ongoing connection to the employer groups while extending the advantages of credit union membership and programs to existing and potential members. This proactive and personal approach is exactly what differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions. A successfully delivered program is a reflection of a credit union taking customer relationships to the highest level. It is an indicator that they do not only talk about member relations but also demonstrate that core value through actions and strategic partnerships. Displaying a portfolio or long list of impressive products and services can lead to a false sense of accomplishment. It is ultimately necessary to ask for a member's business. This step is the bottom line in relationship building. Members are only in a true relationship with their credit union when they accept or participate in their credit union's programs. This real connection is a true example of a member's commitment. The more times this simple connection is made, the closer a credit union comes to becoming that member's primary financial institution. Commit to the delivery of great programs, and search for the right vendors who are willing to reach members in a personal way. Then watch for the proof of the success that will come. Your members will not only participate in your programs but they will say "thank you" for taking the time to visit and talk with them. They will thank you for the services and benefits put in place for them and for their families. They are there now. They are waiting for you. It's time to deliver!