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MADISON, Wis. – CUNA Mutual Group says it wants credit unions to think “strategic business partner” when they think of CUNA Mutual Group – a task that may be easier said than done. CUNA Mutual Group set out last fall to find out if it was at the strategic business partner level in its customers’ eyes. It worked with a third-party firm, Blackstone Group, Chicago, to survey about 400 CUs.The survey results showed that a good number – about a third of CUs surveyed – perceive CUNA Mutual Group as their strategic business partner, with state leagues coming in second at 15%. Given that CUNA Mutual Group has a presence in 94% of the nation’s credit unions, Wayne Benson, chief officer of sales and marketing for CUNA Mutual Group, sees room for improvement in this area. “We have about 180 (account relationship managers) people out there calling on credit unions each and every day. There are specialists assigned to each account. We’re organizing the company around the customer, becoming much more customer centrix,” said Benson. The survey also found that there’s no true e-business leader in credit union land. Approximately 14% of credit unions surveyed associated the phrase “leading provider of e-business services” with CUNA Mutual Group. The next most popular answer, at 13%, was “none/all are the same”, followed by data processors at 12%. About a year ago CUNA Mutual Group launched a branding campaign that promotes both CUNA Mutual Group as a business-to-business partner with CUs, while also promoting its “MEMBERS” brand which is attached to products designed for credit unions’ end-users-their members. “We’ve been really focusing on trying to continue to work and reposition CUNA Mutual Group in the eyes of credit unions. In the old days we used to develop products and deliver them to credit unions,” said Benson. “Now we want credit unions to turn to us as strategic partners they can look to for resolving issues and developing their business.” “We want to live up to our brand promise, which is `giving credit unions the power to compete,’ ” said Benson. Benson said CUNA Mutual Group has no intention of ever marketing directly to CU members, but wants to use the MEMBERS brand in a co-branded environment with its CU clients’ members. “ Our goal is to serve as many credit unions as we possibly can. We do recognize there are going to be some credit unions that are looking for things that we can’t deliver. We can’t meet everyone’s needs. We tried to do that in the past and we lost focus,” said Benson. Benson said MEMBERS Development Company, a research and development consortium made up of 44 CUSOs/CUs and CUNA Mutual Group, is a good example of the company listening to what CUs want. “MEMBERS Development Company is a key change in the paradigm of how credit unions and CUNA Mutual Group work together, where we partner to achieve common goals,” said Benson. [email protected]

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