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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Credit unions can change their name and redefine their brand but without a supportive culture don’t expect to have the best results. “When the true beliefs of a credit union’s management and staff are not aligned success is diminished,” said CUNA Mutual Senior Marketing Consultant DeLania Truly. “It is when credit unions effectively combine their value propositions with engaged employees then they can deliver on their brand promise, break away from their competition and eventually dominate their market.” Truly says it is only logical that a credit union’s culture packs the most powerful punch because happy employees make for happy members, which in turn leads to a prosperous credit union. Through CUNA Mutual’s Members Marketing Source Web-based Management and Staff Assessment survey, Truly has identified the following key gaps between management and staff that prevent a credit union from building an environment necessary to meet and exceed member expectations: * Mission and Value * Rewards and recognition * Availability of sales tools necessary for staff to succeed * Managers’ role in acting as coaches “The survey helps managers see the gaps between how their employees really feel compared to their perception of employees’ feelings and once they realize there is a gap they can work on ways to close them,” said Truly. According to Kauai Community Federal Credit Union Vice President of Marketing Shannon Hoeckele the survey certainly helped the Lihue, Hawaii-based credit union grow. “For us it would have been a waste of time to go through the re-branding process without looking at what our cultural layout is,” said Hoeckele. “It has been about a year and the changes across the board have been amazing.” Hoeckele says from a marketing perspective the first survey revealed that employees already knew the brand – a family-oriented place. “It was kind of surprising to learn that our brand was basically already what we wanted it to be,” said Hoeckele. “We just needed to work on training employees on how to present and portray that brand to our members consistently. By educating everyone on how to deliver our brand promise employees now feel more empowered to focus on member experiences rather than transactions and members have noticed the change.” The credit union also created more everyday reward programs, which Hoeckele says have really boosted employee morale. In addition, education and training have moved from a “we know we need to do it” to “we’re making the time to do it.” “We issued a follow-up survey a year later and the gaps have closed simply by focusing on the operations process of increasing communication channels and frequency and making it easier for employees to do their jobs,” said Truly. “Now everyone uses the true mission of the credit union to help members. Employees also report that they feel like their opinions count and there is constant encouragement for professional development.” When Pascagoula, Mississippi-based Ingalls Employees Credit Union opted to change its name to Navigator CU Marketing Director Kathy Scarbrough literally got everyone from members and employees alike to buy into the idea. Several factors prompted the need for a new direction ranging from a corporate sponsor change to Northrop Grumman rendering the name Ingalls obsolete to strategic plans for growth which included crossing state lines. “We knew it was important that employees didn’t feel like this name change was `just a marketing thing’,” said Scarbrough. Scarbrough says the first step was educating staffers to really understand why such a move was necessary. “Growth would spur greater opportunities within the organization as well.” She then split all 90 employees into several committees to oversee various aspects of the process. “Each employee was involved in every step from writing scripts and prompts to providing feedback on the first logo sketches and planning the VIP premiere party,” said Scarbrough. “It was a lot of hard work but it built genuine excitement that led to true bonding among the employees. They felt like they were really a part of the name change. Our members could see their enthusiasm and it has made all the difference.” Scarbrough says it also helped that every member was also involved in selecting the final name. To help reach a consensus among a divided membership and encourage buy in at all levels the credit union created its own “guided” survey and released it to the entire membership. Members were first asked about service and then walked through the changes that had taken place regarding corporate sponsorship and the benefits of growth. Some 77% voted to make the name change. Personal calls were then made to those dissenting members to further explain the rationale behind the move. “Taking the time to call and explain the rationale demonstrated to our members first that we are interested in their survey response and second that we care about their concerns,” said Scarbrough. “What happened then is that they became our advocates and by the next survey the members voted unanimously on the Navigator CU name. It was phenomenal and we couldn’t have done it without every employee supporting the change.” [email protected]

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