I am an admitted e-mail junkie. As managing director of CUES Tech Port for the past three years, I fielded a hundred or so e-mail requests per day. On top of that, I receive another few hundred e-mails a week in the form of financial services industry news, electronic newsletters and press releases. From all this, I've learned that used strategically, electronic communications might be one of the best ways a credit union has to build and maintain relationships with members. And it's inexpensive. But it also can kill you. Eat a bad meal at a restaurant and you probably won't go back. The same can be said for using e-mail improperly. The biggest irritant in my book? A credit union's failure to respond in a timely manner. When I recently sent an e-mail request posing as a "potential new member" to nine randomly selected credit unions, only four responded to my e-mail within four hours (only one within an hour). One responded after a second request three days later and four never responded at all. There's no excuse. However, properly executed, I see credit unions enjoying these benefits: * E-mail is much quicker than snail-mail

Significant news can be relayed much quicker. * E-mail can be easily customized to various member segments

Pentagon Federal Credit Union provides a good example. Using an Army-Navy football game theme, it targeted over 14,600 members identified with an "Army" code and reported a 51% response rate – obviously scoring big with those members! * Cost savings benefits

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