Posted by Mr. Doug Foister, Director of Research, Cornerstone Credit Union League on 5/20/2015

Malcolm Forbes said, “Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.” This may apply on the corporate as well as the individual level. While we as credit unions must never minimize our challenges, it’s vital that we understand – and capitalize on – our strengths (which are many). Several pieces of recent research provide a healthy reminder of what we do best and just how highly we are esteemed.  

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) asks 70,000 customers each year to rate, among other things, their satisfaction with banks and credit unions. Consistently, credit unions come out on top, and the most recent ACSI was no exception. In 2014, credit unions boasted an average score of 85 compared with 76 for banks.

Members gave higher marks to credit unions on virtually all of the attributes measured, assigning top scores to courtesy and helpfulness (93) and quickness of conducting transactions (93). Credit unions garnered the widest advantages over banks with respect to call center operations and competitive rates. In only two areas did banks outscore credit unions: the number and location of branches and ATMs. Both of these findings are understandable given that credit unions typically are smaller and more community-focused.

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) provide another indication of credit union strength.  NPS indicates the likelihood that customers will recommend a company to friends or colleagues. An NPS above 0 is considered favorable, while a score of 50% or higher is exceptional. As the following table shows, the average credit union NPS is an outstanding 49%. This is well above community banks (35%), regional banks (5%) and national banks (- 6%). It is also significantly higher than the average American company (10%).  Let’s take a look:


Hopefully, these current examples of public opinion research will enlighten and encourage us as we continue our efforts to advocate the credit union message. If you have any questions, or would like to know more about conducting marketing research at your own credit union, please contact dfoister@cornerstoneleague.coop

Categories: Research
Posted by Mr. Howard Bufe, AVP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/18/2015

Our credit union is made up of people.  As our mantra states “People helping People”.  Credit unions are comprised of 3 groups of people:  Volunteers setting the direction and vision of the credit union, staff tackling the day to day operations and most importantly our members that we serve utilizing our products and services.  It’s important to remember, people don’t change easily.  For this reason, any communication about change may result in a certain amount of anxiety, negativity, or resistance.  Our ability to inspire others to embrace change is largely dependent upon our ability to communicate from our listeners’ points of view.  Establishing the need to consider change must be accomplished quickly.  To be convinced, listeners must see evidence that supports the stated need for change.  The audience must not feel that they are being driven to change – they must see change as the logical option.  After establishing the need for change, we illustrate both the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.  This holds true for volunteers, staff and members.

Change is inevitable.  Are we prepared?  So often we wait for change to come to us.  Maybe, just maybe, we should take a bold approach, step out and create change ourselves.  Credit unions have experienced six years of declining and unusually low interest rates in conjunction with a sluggish economy.   What will this year have to offer?  Will interest rates go up?  What’s our potential for lending activity?  What new options will technology bring?  Where will our membership growth come from?  What changes can we expect from Senior Management and Board Governance?  These are some very complex questions.

Being prepared for change requires that a credit union pay significant attention to having a strong Strategic Plan in place along with a complete and up to date Senior Management and Volunteer Succession Plan.

Strategic planning plays a key role in providing our teams the opportunity to logically and emotionally address the future of the credit union and explore our best options. Some may ask, in today’s world of high uncertainty, why plan?  Uncertainty is, indeed, a major problem in forward planning.  However, to make the decision not to plan is an ostrich-like approach.  In today’s world of greater uncertainty, there is a significant need for good strategic planning.

A solid strategic plan is for credit unions that are serious about growth, building competitive advantage, critical to prioritizing financial needs, providing focus and direction to move from planning to action.The strategic plan helps:

  • Promote Cooperation / Cohesiveness
  • Creates Focus
  • Provides Direction
  • Allocate Resources

Although, not a requirement by regulations, it is considered a sound business practice and some credit unions will find themselves under a mandate to formulate an adequate strategic plan.

Succession Planning, for both the Board and Senior Staff is also considered a sound business practice.  The purpose of a Credit Union management succession plan is to ensure business continuity in the event of a temporary or permanent loss of a key management position.  The plan’s focus is to provide the continuity on an interim basis.  The time frame for and replacement of the President/CEO will be determined, if necessary, by the Board of Directors (Board).  Other key management replacements will be determined, if necessary, by remaining management.

Nothing is more important to the health and sustainability of our credit union than getting highly qualified, engaged, skilled enthusiastic people to serve on our Board.Imagine all that your Board and credit union could accomplish with “the right people on the bus”, as stated by Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great”.It’s important to realize that the job of building a Board is about more than just filling slots.It is about being strategic in the way a Board looks at its composition related to its responsibilities.Getting the right MIX requires careful attention to the recruitment process!

This year, drive change with an appropriate strategic plan and supported with a sound succession plan.

Categories: Education & Training, Strategic Planning & Consulting, Succession Planning
Posted by Mr. Chad Stanislav, VP Financial & Technology, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/15/2015

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

“I don’t look busy because I did it right the first time.”

Which one of these statements better describes your life?  Are you sure?   Which one do you aspire to if neither is currently applicable?

How does such a simple phrase “do it right the first time” create so much angst for the majority of the people?  I can already hear several readers getting defensive with my word choice in the previous sentence.   They are thinking “I am glad I am in the minority, because I always do things right the first time.”

I bet it’s safe to say, you heard some phrase or variation of “do it right the first time” from a parent(s), followed closely by a teacher, once you entered school.   And, they say parents and teachers have a strong influence over us.  Then why are so many not able to do it right the first time?  Pressures, stress, laziness, lack of pride, no drive, not being held accountable, not caring, denial, emotions, disorganization, lack of knowledge, apprehension, fear of making mistake, or being overwhelmed to name a few.  Whatever the reason, we can do it right the first time.  Doing it right the first time is not a gimmick, but it also doesn’t mean you can never make a mistake.  After all, we are human.  However, it is about changing your perspective, approach and acceptance.

When we don’t do it right the first time, it is costly.  That cost is time, money, resources, energy, production and reputation.  Whether it is personal or professional, having to redo or correct errors takes time away from other tasks, assignments, or delays you from having fun.  Short cuts are not your friend and not your company’s friend, especially when your performance suffers from not doing it right and submitting inferior work.  When your boss has to correct your errors, your boss will do what it takes to make it right whether they send it back for correction or they have correct it for you.  However, be aware, your boss will take note of the frequency of inferior work and it will outweigh all of your favorable production.  You and your credit union’s reputation are on the line with every interaction or item you produce.  Anybody can do it wrong, so be a hero and do it right the first time.

Doing it right the first time should become a habit and a way of life.   It’s about having pride, personal or professional, in what you are working on and completing.   This is where “doing your best” may not be enough.  By incorporating little changes to your life, you can start to improve beyond doing your best.   It is a mindset.  If errors are acceptable to you, then you will hardly ever do it right the first time. 

Doing it right the first time allows for accomplishing so much more in life and work.  Your time and the time of others is not wasted when you are diligent enough to accomplish it right the first time.  When you do it right your company is able to thrive and create more opportunities.  You only get one time to do it right the first time.  WILL YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT RIGHT, THE FIRST TIME?

Categories: Human Resources
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