Rethinking Member Loyalty
Posted by Tracy Florida, CUDE, Director, Partner Relations, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 8/11/2014

LoyaltyIt is well known that member loyalty drives retention and referrals. It is a topic important to every credit union concerned with profitability. But how do you force your members to become more loyal? As you know, it is not possible. You can’t force your members to be loyal, just like you can’t force your friends to be loyal.

In a world of deals and discounts, we all lean toward getting the best deal or saving a few dollars, even if at times we have to drive a few more miles to save a few cents. Just recently, when looking at flights for a family summer vacation, I shopped around. Though Southwest Airlines is my airline of choice and is where my loyalties lie, we flew on Jet Blue. In this instance, my loyalty was to saving some cash (though inevitable still spent on vacation fun!).

However, there are things you can do to “earn” your member’s loyalty. Let’s look at this from two perspectives, your members and your employees.

Member Perspective

  • Treat members like best friends: When a challenge arises, drop your busy work and take care of them right away just like you would a friend. In fact, don’t wait for your member to call you with an issue or problem. Reach out to them often and make sure that their needs are being met. Ask if there is anything you can do for them.
  • Look out for their money: Be proactive in your efforts. Treat their money and savings as if it were your own. What would you do if you saw an opportunity to save more or had the ability to provide a product or service that would benefit you? If possible, do a few things for free, and let them know about it! This will show your loyalty to them and they will most certainly appreciate your loyalty.
  • Make them feel good: Around holidays or during random promotions, do things that make them smile…even laugh. It’s contagious! One will always remember things that enable them to feel good. Find ways to thank and appreciate your members. I promise, you’ll feel great doing it!
  • Be a good listener: Communication is the ability to listen. This is truly the only way you learn about your member. Being a good listener is a skill, and it is a skill worth knowing! You not only learn about the member, you also show them that you’re paying attention and you hear them.
  • Don’t mess with their favorite faces: Give your member the same staff with that familiar smile to greet them. All things being equal, people like doing business with people they know, like and trust. This concept works for small credit unions up to the largest.

Employee Perspective

How do you ensure your staff is showing loyalty to your members? You can probably guess where this is going. You first must show loyalty to your staff.

  • Communicate to your staff like family: Let them know what and how the credit union is doing and what the future holds. It is important to share the good and the bad. And it is equally important to let them know how they are doing and what they can do to improve their value and position in the company. Spend time to get to know them personally; show that you care and they will do the same for your members.
  • Develop your staff:  According to the Harvard Business Review, helping your employees develop their careers and expertise creates loyalty and an alignment of company-employee values.  Designing work with autonomy and variety develops loyalty within your employee base.  Studies have shown that when someone leaves a company, they are often leaving due to a troubled relationship with their immediate supervisor. The opposite is also true. A positive relationship with their immediate supervisor will promote loyalty with employees and promote a healthy, positive work environment.
  • Guarantee member loyalty: Loyalty is not just about the warm fuzzies.  It can, and must also be instilled in the fabric of your credit union culture.  A warm smile and a nod of the head go a long way…don’t forget this even as you grow.
  • Show your staff you mean it: In a team meeting discuss how your credit union can express loyalty to your member. The act of having this discussion will inspire your staff and get them focused on ‘”the good of the member.” Discuss random acts of kindness and practice this on your staff — loyalty comes from all corners of the credit union.

Think about your most loyal friends and vendors.  What do they do for you to make you feel special? Ask your employees this same question and get them thinking. Then ask, “What can you do to build loyalty with our members?” Always remember, loyalty is something you pay forward!

Categories: Business Partners, Sales & Service
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