Highway to Hell Paved With Good Intentions: Editor/Publisher's Column
Credit union volunteers and professionals do what they do because they enjoy it–even get a sense of inner fulfillment from it–and are good at it. Otherwise, you’d be silly because the pay and benefits are relatively low and at credit unions you actually have to listen and try to fulfill your members’ needs rather than just a handful of stockholders.
Member needs can provide a roadmap for credit unions and whether they take a tortoise or hare approach to technology adoption or what to offer in their suite of products. But without planning strategically for the future, a credit unions’ direction can be as mixed as my many metaphors.
I’m calling on the legendary Diana Ross to help credit unions create a singular, focused direction to charge full steam ahead.
Do you know
Where you're going to?
Do you like the things
That life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know?
Strategic direction from the boards on down is an area that credit unions can bear greater study. Credit unions must identify what they are and what they want to be in order to ensure they’re performing the necessary tactics to achieve these goals. If your credit unions wants to be known as the best member service provider in town, make sure your income can support the investment in training and online offerings and facilities. If your credit union is going to be the high-tech financial services option, ensure your investments are appropriately aligned. If your credit union is the fair deal, bring a magnifying glass to the minimal fine print.
Know, too, that you can’t be all things to all people. You can’t be the cheapest financial services option with the best service and most product offerings and locations and ATMs. It defies the laws of physics.
Do you get
What you're hoping for?
When you look behind you
There's no open doors.
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?
Hope in one hand and…well you know that cliché. See which one fills up first. Wishing and hoping (mixing my song lyrics now) won’t get you into a plan for the future. As Dusty Springfield sang, you’ve got to show members that you care. That means demonstrating that the credit union supports what they care about, so you have to really know and understand your members. Investing in surveys and focus groups can be costly but can also reap spectacular rewards. There’s no point to focusing investments into online banking if your members are already going mobile. Watch over members’ shoulders as they use your online or mobile banking offering. If your community is very eco-friendly, host highway cleanups and offer great deals on higher MPG auto loans. When members offer an open door, walk through it because you don’t want your back up against it later.
Once we were standing still, in time
Chasing the fantasies and feeling all nice
Why must we wait so long before we see
How sad the answers to those questions can be?
Each credit union, and credit unions as a system really, must answer for themselves the question, do you know where you’re going to? So there isn’t an unfortunate and abrupt fade out.