Posted by Mr. Dean Borland, SCMS, CUDE, VP Product Development, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/27/2016

It’s no wonder that most consumers’ opinion of financial service providers is based on service and convenience. After all, financial products are inherently “competitive” commodities with similar function, features, and price. A checking account is a checking account and a loan is a loan. What makes any financial institution stand out is service and convenience.

The problem with service is that its value is in the eyes of the beholder. Service is simultaneously created and consumed, it cannot be manufactured in advance or stored on a shelf for future consumption. And, personal service must be customized to the immediate needs and preferences of each individual consumer.

Traditionally, credit unions relied upon personalized, face-to-face service to differentiate themselves from other financial services competitors. Credit unions CARE about members, and it shows. The credit union business model has always been fairly straightforward – hire pleasant people who care about other people, train them to perform their designated duties, and send them out to serve and spread good cheer among their members.

For decades, credit unions’ “People Helping People” philosophy, which has been broadly translated into superior personal service, has served us well. The question is, will it continue to serve us as well in the future?

With the future in mind, Credit Union Resources sponsored a couple of recent events featuring some of our premier business partners, CO-OP Financial Services, Diebold, and Level5, to explore how credit unions might address evolving consumer preferences for financial service delivery. The conversations began as “Branch Transformation,” but the discussions evolved into an assessment of credit unions’ service delivery business model.

Before you get excited, the core philosophy is alive and well. No one even hinted at abandoning “People Helping People.” What did come into question, however, was how credit unions’ service delivery will need to evolve as we pursue consumers with preferences for mobile access and an expectation for “any time” service. Here are a few takeaways from the discussions:

  • “Branch transformation” is part of a much larger issue of service delivery. Long-term credit union success may require a comprehensive business model re-evaluation that looks at every aspect of member interactions. Think Blockbuster and NetFlix…
  • The branch of the future may have a smaller footprint and fewer employees than traditional branches, with routine transactions being performed via in-lobby terminals (perhaps with a video assist option) and staff providing personal assistance, consultation and education. Think Apple Genius Bar…
  • Payments infrastructure is evolving to expand beyond traditional value exchange to address concerns about security. Think biometric validation and infrastructure enhancements (perhaps blockchain or some yet to be invented mechanism to help prevent data breaches)…
  • 8:00 am to 5:00 pm member service hours may be a thing of the past as more transactions move to remote (mobile) delivery and members expect / demand extended hours access to personal assistance for those times when remote delivery falters. Think extended hours (perhaps shared) contact centers with options for telephonic and electronic messaging…
  • Some employees will likely need to be retrained and repurposed as the business model / job duties evolve. Member-facing employees could become concierges and consultants as routine transactions increasingly migrate to automated platforms, providing new and expanded opportunities to fulfill credit unions’ “People Helping People” mandate. Think Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” observations about getting people in the right seats…

Transforming in-branch service delivery is an issue that every credit union will have to consider, but branch transformation is only the tip of the service dilemma iceberg. The evolution of financial service delivery will touch every aspect of the credit union business model – products, service delivery channels, technology / data processing, facilities, hours of operation, work processes, human competencies and capacities, financial performance, and much, much more. 

Categories: Human Resources, Remote Transaction, Sales & Service, Strategic Planning & Consulting
Posted by Mrs. Cheryl Sayers, Director of Training Remote Transaction Resources, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/23/2016

Do your members “trust” in your credit union?  Is your credit union and its staff focused on your membership and building a solid trusting relationship with them?  A member should feel confident that your credit union and staff are reliable and are keeping their best interests in mind.  All relationships are built on trust.  Including those with a financial institution.

We teach our staff to cross sell products and services to our members.  But, are we so focused on getting that quota of products and services each month that we are missing the true point of what our members needs are?  Call center, loan officers, member service representatives, and tellers, are the ones that hear and see our members most often.  Are they understanding and seeing those subtle clues as to the true needs of your members or just trying to meet that quota for the month?

A teller assisting a member with a transaction can learn a retired member is in a tough spot trying to make it to the credit union each month for funds to pay their bills.  As a result the teller takes the time to either assist this member themselves or connect them with someone that does have time to follow through.  Show the member what their options are to make their life so much easier.  Are they eligible for direct deposit?  Do they have access to a computer to set up online banking?  Don’t just sell them a service or product….invest in the time to show the member how to use these services and to become trusting of your employees, products and services.  We need to be unique and stand out to our membership as we are “People helping people.”    

Empower your staff with the tools (YouTube videos, PDFs, training sessions, and other similar resources) to educate them on what services your credit union offer.  If, your staff are well versed with the services you offer it will help tremendously allowing them to connect your members with services that match what they really need.  How many of your staff utilize the very products and services you offer so that they can respectively answer your member questions?

Research (Bookend Your Customer’s Trust. April 13, 2016, Drew’s Marketing Minute) indicates that in most cases, if an organization’s customers are surveyed about 80% of them will indicate that they’re satisfied. Many business leaders will embrace that number, a little afraid to dig in deeper. But satisfaction isn’t what it is all about. The real metrics are based on these two questions:

  • Will you re-purchase this business’ products and services?
  • Would you recommend this business to your family, friends and colleagues?

In the example above, the staff truly provided the member with information they needed.  They took time with the member and the member feels more trusting with the efforts by staff to resolve their problem.  That member will in turn express their satisfaction and trust with others!  The key was following through so that the member doesn’t just feel like another number but, trusts that the credit union is looking out for them and their needs.

Showing you care about a person goes a long way even in business.  It takes a huge step towards earning a members trust.

Categories: Education & Training, Sales & Service
Posted by Joseph T Sefcik, Jr., President, Employment Technologies Corporation on 5/19/2016

Recently, we’ve been conducting a mid-year sales review. The topic of customer referrals is always a key part of that discussion. We value our partnerships and strive to see those 

relationships stay strong and expand. As we continue to nurture and improve our own referral process, we’ve discovered some great information and want to share.

As we mentioned in a recent blog on our website, referrals are one of the best ways to connect with new customers—yet creating an effective referral program can be tricky.   

There are many specific types of referral programs. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “Creativity is the key to any good incentive program. People just naturally like to help each other, but especially when they know their efforts are successful.”

The article goes on to suggest several types of referral or incentive programs:

  • Free estimates, samples or analyses
  • Additional products or services for no extra cost
  • Product or service discounts
  • Product or service time extensions
  • Extended memberships
  • Group discounts
  • Extended warranties
  • Reduced costs on peripheral items or services 

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve all been on the receiving end of such offers. Some are more effective than others.  How do you know what will work best for your business? And is the hard work and attention of a referral program really worth it? 

An article published by the Harvard Business Review says yes. A team at Goethe University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, “studied 10,000 accounts in a large bank over a period of three years, and found that customers obtained through referrals are both more loyal and more valuable than other customers.” The study calculated that referred customers are 18% more likely to stay with the bank and generated 16% more in profits.

An exhaustive search of effective programs by a company Referral Candy revealed several companies with best practices in incentives and referrals. Let’s take a quick look at three of the best:


Dropbox gives free storage space to its customers who refer others. This technique has been extremely successful for growing their platform and revenues. People come to Dropbox for storage space and online accessibility of their documents, not for cash or gadgets or other perks.  Storage and Accessibility. That’s it, so that’s what their referral program gives. 

Apply this:  Be sure you give your members what they want.


The Airbnb Referral Program allows registered Airbnb users to earn Travel Credits toward future travel by referring friends to Airbnb. With this program, travelers can earn $20 credit for every friend they refer who travels using an Airbnb booking and $80 credit for every referral that acts as an Airbnb host. They are using this cleverly to recruit more hosts which is what they need, and to give credit to their customers so they continue to use their service. 

Apply this:  Give your members an incentive to keep using your services or products with their referral.


Internet productivity giant Evernote uses a points system to reward its customers who refer new users.  Evernote customers can redeem their points for an upgrade, similar to an airline points system, but for referrals rather than frequency of use. Evernote has a premium product with more features, and they use this to incentivize referrals.  They get double duty from this promotion because with their program, “Your friends also benefit from referrals.” Every referred friend is given one month of Evernote Premium just for getting started. 

Apply this:  Maximize the impact of your premium product or upgrades by using them to reward members who refer and to introduce newly referred members to your very best.

When considering how to craft your referral program for the best possible results give your memberswhat they want, offer incentives, and maximize your premium services and products. You already have what it takes to create a great program. All it takes is thinking differently and some hard work to reap the valuable bottom-line results of successful referrals.

Have a referral to share? If you know a credit union or organization looking to achieve HIRE Confidence, please send us their contact information. As a thank you, you’ll receive your choice of a new EASy Simulation to try free! Or how about a "selfie referral?" Contact us at 888.332.0658 and receive the same offer. 


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