We’ve all heard the adage: Do the same things the same way repeatedly, and you’ll always get the same results. Well, here are two opportunities where we can deviate slightly from the routine and in return get some new results that may prove beneficial both to your credit union’s balance sheet and to your efforts at sustaining member loyalty.

I saw it reported recently in the New Jersey league’s newsletter that their member credit unions are giving thumbs up to implementing a high-definition video teleconference network within the state. The HD video network would be used for training and educational purposes, enabling members to save on time and travel expenses by simply gathering at the nearest credit union that has agreed to serve as a host site for the monitors, cameras and workstation. Outside of physically touching the instructor or meeting leader at the league’s headquarters in Hightstown, the network offers all the conveniences of attending the gathering in person. What a great and innovative concept!

Now, suppose other leagues along with groups like NCUA, CUNA, NAFCU and CUES followed in the footsteps of the New Jersey league? Imagine the impact on the credit union system if all could have access to such an HD video network. Imagine the money we’d all save, not to mention the easy access we would all gain to these organizations and the services they provide. I’m putting this idea at the top of my wish list for the way we memorialize the 2012 observance of the International Year of Cooperatives.

A second idea addresses member loyalty. I recently joined a credit union serving Southern California and while I was at the branch I couldn’t help but notice all the unused space. Why not put part of it to work, I thought.

Imagine if credit unions came with access to an exclusive “Members Lounge,” complete with wireless connectivity and a free cup of coffee. All you need to gain entry is your credit union ATM card. I can see the value of Starbucks dropping rapidly! I can’t count the number of times when I was on the road that I used a Starbucks as my mobile office, refreshing my spirits while accessing my e-mail and other Internet-based services. If a credit union offered me such an exclusive amenity, I’d be all over it and you would be too. Why stop at Starbucks if I can get WiFi and a free cup of coffee at my credit union? What a great way to connect with members and nourish their credit union affiliation! And, after reading the results of a recent survey conducted by MyCUsurvey.com, a new consumer survey firm for credit unions, the concept of a Members Lounge might be just the ticket!

Of course, the secret for success for a Members Lounge is that such an amenity would need to be commonplace, across the nation and among all credit unions. But we’re a cooperative system, are we not?