Dividend Drives Home Credit Union Difference
CommunityAmerica Credit Union is showing members how it literally pays to be a member.
Locals and members of the $1.8 billion Lenexa, Kan.-based credit union can now get an estimate of what they could receive in the form of a dividend with the Profit Payout Calculator.
The online tool is part of CommunityAmerica’s realigned efforts to focus and market based on the fundamental cooperative nature of credit unions.
“We’ve offered dividends to members for the past 18 years with an annual announcement but we decided to proactively put a strategy in place for a longer term commitment to the payout as an important differentiator,” said Rob Persaud, senior vice president of marketing at CommunityAmerica. “This year the credit union returned more than $5.5 million in profit to members and it's the second consecutive year we’ve returned at least $5 million. That's pretty significant so why not take advantage of it throughout the year?”
With consumers generally not understanding the credit union difference, Persaud saw this as an opportunity to help showcase how the structural difference of credit unions matters. The first step, once given board approval, was to call the dividend return a Profit Payout.
“That's what it is. We don't answer to stockholders but to our members. Our structural difference as a credit union allows us to return profit to the people,” Persaud said. “The online profit payment calculator helps bring that to life.”
To reinforce the simplicity of the message, he added that the calculator itself had to be easy to use for both existing and potential members. To that end, loans and deposits are equally weighted and to receive the Profit Payout members must have at least two relationships with CommunityAmerica. The more relationships, the greater the potential payout can be. That's it. For locals considering making a switch they can simply enter what they would bring to CommunityAmerica, whether a checking account, credit card, IRA or loans and they too can see what their annual payout would be.
“There's no mystique. It's simply one of the many benefits of choosing CommunityAmerica,” said Persaud. “What we found, and I think every credit union may struggle with this, is that despite our annual dividend announcements, a lot of people didn't believe the claim because they felt it was too good to be true. So now we’ve given them a tool where they are able to see in black and white, the proof of how their balance makes a big difference.”
Initially released to the staff in late 2013, to build their comfort with the tool and get feedback on how it can be improved, the official Profit Payout campaign kicked off in January.
With the click of a few keys, members of CommunityAmerica Credit Union can find out what portion of a dividend they will receive.
So far, the member response has been positive and an added bonus is that the tool has enabled greater engagement between front line staff and members, Persaud said. For example, if a teller sees a member only has a mortgage with CommunityAmerica they can use the calculator and have a conversation pointing out how just one more relationship can make them eligible for a payout, he explained.
“Our frontline staff has always been having these conversations but now members see it as money left on the table,” said Persaud. “We’re not talking in vague promises of value. This is a chance for us to show numerically this is what your profit payout could have been or could be by deepening your relationship with us.”
While the campaign is relatively new, Persaud has heard anecdotal feedback from the branches that indicate members have started to make that connection.
“I wouldn't underestimate the importance of transparency in helping consumers understand how structural differences of credit unions can benefit them,” he said. “Rather than touting great member service, credit unions are in a rare position to share hard-hitting, tangible benefits of membership.”