Credit unions are based on a member-driven philosophy. The focus on members – and the commitment to listen to and act on their changing financial service needs – sets credit unions apart from many other institutions. But how do you stay aware of your members' changing needs? And more importantly, how do you know if your credit union is meeting them? In the service-oriented world of credit unions, many have found eSurveys to be the answer. Both credit union operational management and marketing executives are using Web-based surveys as a high-value, low-cost means to communicate with their members. Using online questionnaires, you can quickly measure members' awareness of your credit union's services, invite them to share experiences they have had with your credit union, and request their feedback on the products they use (or don't use). And because eSurveys incorporate today's technology, the need for paper, postage and collating is eliminated, while tabulating the results can be immediate. But while eSurveys are inexpensive and produce fast results, they require careful thought and planning for maximum effectiveness. Here are some key steps for successful online surveys: Identify your objective Before developing an eSurvey, identity why you are soliciting members' feedback – and determine the ideal information you hope to obtain. By having a clear objective, you can better tailor the questions to gather what you really need. eSurveys can provide valuable information about your members' views on your financial products, as well as the quality of service they receive from your credit union. Carefully written questions can draw out members' thoughts on service quality, their need for different types of loan products, and even whether or not they are willing to pay bills online or accept electronic statements. A long questionnaire does not lend itself well to an online format, so keep it short and simple. Be respectful of your members' time by including only a few questions that are concise, easy-to-understand, but focused on the key information you hope to collect. Where practical, use open-ended questions to encourage members to share candid comments. Conduct your online survey Where you place your eSurvey link is a key factor in driving your response rate. Place images and links on your top five most-visited Web pages, making the survey easy for members to find. Using pop-up windows or links within your online banking program also makes for a strong placement, especially when the survey can be accessed from the logon screen. To ensure even more responses from your members, send them invitations via e-mail that include a direct link to the eSurvey. Or include a survey invitation on their printed receipts from branch transactions or ATM visits. Analyze members' responses Gathering and reviewing the results are easy with eSurveys. In many cases, responses are instantly measurable, updated automatically and can be easily compared with benchmarks. And the use of open-ended questions can lead to valuable member comments, moving your credit union to add new action items to its marketing plan. In addition, eSurveys bring two to three times as many responses as traditional surveys at just a fraction of the cost. Turn survey results into action Perhaps more important than learning what your members really like about your credit union, eSurveys let you know what they don't – providing you valuable opportunities to address their concerns. Once you have the results of your eSurvey, use them wisely. Let your members know that sharing their comments can result in action, where appropriate and when feasible. Throughout their history, credit unions have built their reputation – and their success – on listening to the wants and needs of their members, who are also their owners. Now, with eSurveys, credit unions have an interactive, convenient, cost-effective way to give members a voice – and to show them that they have their "ears" on.

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