Nov. 5 has been proclaimed Bank Transfer Day. This public groundswell against Bank of America’s $5 debit fee is a true national movement that aligns well with the credit union mission and credit unions need to hitch themselves to that wagon. Is your credit union prepared?
On Oct. 10 CUTimes.com started covering credit union connection with Bank Transfer Day. On Oct. 17, following CUTimes.com articles being picked up by Gawker and social news site reddit.com among others, 'Bank Transfer Chatter Goes Global; CUNA, NAFCU Cite Site Surges' received nearly 25,000 unique page views that day–a record for a single CUTimes.com article by far. As you can tell by the headline, credit union search sites created for consumers also enjoyed increased traffic.
Interest in Bank Transfer Day definitely exists but what will actually transpire on Saturday, Nov. 5 remains to be seen. Hopefully your credit union has adjusted your advertising to promote itself in connection with the day.
Taking place on a Saturday could pose a problem for many credit unions; consider opening Nov. 5 if you don’t have regular Saturday hours or you’ll alienate these new potential members right away.
Be absolutely sure, whether your branches are open or not, that your website can handle the potential uptick in traffic for transferring accounts. Again, credit unions cannot afford to tick off these people who are already angry about their financial services.
Those that do open locations Saturdays must ensure you have proper staffing and extend hours of operation. You know your field of membership best. If you believe there could be increased lobby traffic, beef up staffing. Making members wait in long lines would be a huge mistake if you only have one or two tellers or MSRs on.
If you’re as prepared as possible in that capacity, be sure to have water bottles on hand and coffee brewing to make the wait more bearable. Managers and others not working account transfers can take the time to get to know their new potential members.
Having a sales-service culture in place will shine at times like this. Bank Transfer Day represents consumers’ anger at the $5 fee on debit cards but for financial equilibrium, credit unions need loans, too. Employees must be ready to listen to the financial products these folks have and want that they may not realize they want to transfer from other financial institutions.
Ask members questions in small-talk fashion to see if they may also be better off refinancing their car loans or credit cards with your credit union as well. According to Foolproof, credit unions save a bank customer $1,000 on average for an existing auto loan when they refinance. They save a customer 3-5% on a credit card balance when they move a credit card, which amounts to hundreds of dollars for most cardholders.
To fully take advantage of Bank Transfer Day, balance out shares and loans to maintain appropriate asset liability management.
Local media outlets are scrounging for local angles and credit unions must take advantage. Credit unions should be prepared to talk to Anytown Gazette’s attention. Provide examples of how the credit union has helped local people, businesses and the economy. It puts your brand in front of potential members and labels your CU as a bona fide expert by an independent third party.
Talk about how credit unions work for their members, not just a profit which is why you don’t have to charge a debit fee. And then don’t! It’s very important to follow up on a promise like that. You don't want to spark a Credit Union Transfer Day.
The timing is ripe for me to reiterate tips on dealing with the press.
1. Tell the truth. Enough said.
2. Know and respect deadlines. Deadlines apply to online news.
3. Develop relationships with the press. First find out which reporter would be most interested in what you have to offer. Then specifically ask the reporter for a few key topics he or she is interested in or trends being followed. Offer up your own observations or provide a heads up, on- or off-the-record. Meet up for coffee to build trust in a more relaxed environment.
4. Send press releases but don't overdo it, and don't rely solely on them. Aim for quality over quantity. You will be competing with all the noise in journalists’ professional and personal life. Clearly and concisely explain why your news or perspective is unique. Live action photos or graphics demonstrating a trend are nice.
5. Know your target audience. Stories should be pitched differently to a trade publication than you would your local radio station. Both might be interested in a topic but for different reasons.
6. Know the terminology. Articles are news stories written by the publication’s writers; opinion pieces, or op-eds, are written by outside sources on some topic of interest to the readership.
7. Don't shy away from commenting when there's bad news. News doesn’t die just because you don’t talk about it. The only way to get your side of the story into the media is to tell it. So your credit union lost money on subprime mortgages–explain how you're rectifying it. Readers seeing, “Mr. Smith declined to comment,” immediately assume the worst.