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BOSTON – How often do you see staff from credit unions and banks at a conference networking with each other on subjects such as consumer behavior and improving financial services? That’s exactly what happened during Deluxe Financial Services’ first in what is planned to be a series of Knowledge Exchange expos. This one was held Oct. 6 and 7 at the Sheraton Hotel. The two-day event attracted about 180 representatives from 100 financial institutions from around the country. The objective of the expos, said Deluxe Financial Services President Chuck Feltz, is “to get financials thinking about new approaches to major challenges such as customer retention, security, and other issues.” The idea of holding the expos was germinated about a year-and-a-half ago, explained Feltz, when Deluxe decided to examine the way consumers perceive the check ordering process and how they use their checks. Among the results of research conducted by the company, data showed that around 40% of consumers use their checks as a “social expression” product. The research findings also showed that while 70% of consumers prefer having some sort of a design on their checks, only 20% of them buy checks that have a design. The reason for the disparity? Most consumers aren’t aware they have choices. “By showing consumers they have choices when it comes to checks, the product can be a vehicle in lifting the brand awareness of that financial,” said Feltz. DeluxeSelectT, a turnkey program designed to make the check ordering process more of a retail experience for checking account holders was an outgrowth of the research findings. “We found the whole idea of creating a retail shopping experience for consumers when ordering checks very valuable for them and for their financial institutions,” Feltz explained. Results of a subsequent study by Deluxe Financial showed that among the top activities financials spend time and money on are ways to promote and achieve their mission goals. Based on that information and what it had learned earlier about consumer behavior, he said Deluxe Financial Services asked itself, how can the company help financial institutions leverage that knowledge to build relationships with consumers? That question led to the decision to organize the Deluxe Knowledge Exchange Expo. The first day of the event featured guest speakers who in addition to Feltz, included Deluxe Chairman Lawrence Mosner; Joe Calloway, a best selling business author and consultant; and Dewitt Jones, a freelance photographer for National Geographic who challenged attendees with ways to discover their untapped creativity. Among those who attended was Greg Mariotti, member services products manager, Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, Tukwila, Wash. After years of only allowing BECU share draft account holders to use the credit union’s customized styled checks which Mariotti described as being “no fancy design and having the credit union’s logo with four color choices,” BECU recently began using DeluxeSelect and allowing members to choose from a variety of check styles. “We didn’t think members wanted to pay for fancier checks with different styles,” said Mariotti in explaining BECU’s former policy. Mariotti said BECU has about a 65-70% penetration rate among its 330,000 members for share draft accounts. Since it began using DeluxeSelect, about 25% of BECU’s members have ordered other check styles. Commenting on his observations of the Deluxe Knowledge Exchange, Mariotti said the speakers “gave me things to think about concerning how we’re running our business and perceiving our members. Credit unions and banks offer virtually the same products and services, so we have to find a way to differentiate ourselves to gain our members’ loyalty.” A second Deluxe Knowledge Exchange Expo will be held in Chicago Nov. 3-4. In addition, over the next 18 month, Deluxe Financial plans to host other activities such as webinars and special conference calls. -

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