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

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.

Airbnb

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.

Evernote

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. 

 

Categories: Marketing & Printing, Sales & Service
Posted by Ms. Pamela Blevins, Remote Financial Services Manager, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/18/2016

Not knowing what is motivating your employees could land you in financial hot water.  Did you know that the majority of employees that have committed internal fraud, did so because they were in a financial bind and saw no other way out?  According to the fraud triangle theory, those who commit fraud usually had all three of the following scenarios occur before they decided to cross that line.

  1. The motivation to conduct fraud.(Usually due to a financial difficulty)

  2. The opportunity to conduct fraud.(Weak internal controls in place to prevent the fraud)

  3. The rationalization that they are owed the money (Usually due to feelings of dissatisfaction or feeling they have been wronged in some way by their organization or management)

Reducing or eliminating even just one of these three risk categories will greatly reduce your risk for potential internal fraud.  I recently wrote blogs on decreasing your risk exposure for opportunity and rationalization by ways to increase internal controls and boost morale in your credit union; however, identifying red flag employees who might have the motivation to commit fraud is just as important.

Identifying Risky Motivation

In most cases, when fraud has been committed and the credit union looks back on the situation, many could identify warning signs that an employee was going to commit the fraud.  These warnings signs usually come in the form of the employee displaying financial difficulties.  There are many ways to identify the potential risk BEFORE the fraud occurs:

  1. Review all employee statements.  Look for employees that are constantly overdrafting their accounts or living on the edge.  Pay close attention to waived fees.  Many credit unions do this on a quarterly basis.  This can be handled by an internal auditor or even an outside third party such as Credit Union Resources.

  2. Review employee loan trends: Look for employees who have recently requested many personal loans, credit cards, or advances.  This could be an indication they are not financially stable and need access to external cash.

  3. Pay attention to credit scores, credit reports and debt ratios:  When reviewing new loans for employees, look for dramatic drops in credit scores or increases in debt ratios.  Also look for new items in collections that were reported to the credit bureau.  This could be an indication of problems with other creditors.

  4. Keep an ear out: The credit union environment is much like a family.  In many cases, employees discuss their financial difficulties out in the open.  Here are some key scenarios that could be cause for concern:

    1. Employee’s spouse/significant other has lost their job

    2. They have significant debt and / or credit problems and are struggling financially

    3. Employee/spouse/child is involved in civil or criminal proceedings

    4. Employee/spouse/child has a drug/alcohol/gambling problem

    5. Employee made a lavish purchase (like a new home) that exceeds their means

      They have been identified… What now?

If any of these four circumstances lead you to identify an employee as a red flag or high risk, knowing how to handle the situation with finesse is key.  First, once the employee has been identified, begin with opening the door for open dialog with your employee as a concerned party.  Maybe inform them that you have noticed that they seem to be having a difficult time financially and ask if they are okay or if there is anything you or the credit union can do. Make sure when you start this dialog, you do not come across as accusatory; do not inform them they are a high risk; or make them feel bad about their situation.  We all experience ups and downs in life, but that does not necessarily mean we would commit fraud.  By opening this dialog with your employee, your employee will know that you are aware of their financial difficulty.  The employee will also know that they are on your radar and someone is taking notice.  Be transparent with your staff and let them know that reviews of employee statements are performed on a random and regular basis.  That might be just enough to make them think carefully about conducting fraudulent activities at your credit union.

If the employee is struggling financially, offer some solutions or resources to help them.  Many credit unions have financial advisors or financial counselors on staff.  If your credit union offers that service, allow employees a certain number of sessions annually to discuss their financial issues for free with the advisor/counselor. If your credit union does not offer this service, provide them with outside financial advisory information.  There are a couple of great credit counseling agencies that have partnered with the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation.   

Both agencies have certified credit counselors there to help consumers know their options.  The staff member could receive guidance on managing debt, housing, budgeting, credit, student loans, and bankruptcies.  Although these services are not free, their costs are minimal and may reduce the employee’s expenses more than the cost of the sessions.  If the employee decides to use the service, they will have a custom plan developed for them including a customized budget. The agencies also work with the client’s creditors and are often able to help them obtain lower interest rates and payments to help the client get back on track.  (They are not debt consolidation companies).  It might be just what your employee needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

In a lot of cases, if the employee had seen another way out of their financial problems, they would have taken that over committing fraudulent activities.  Give them that other option.  Make sure all staff members are aware of the resources available to help them, not just those staff members that have been identified as high risk.  When your credit union chooses to endorse either their own counseling service or an outside agency, put that information in the breakroom or send it to staff members annually as a reminder of their options and resources.  Another added bonus for the credit union, staff members who are more financial stable have improved work performance.  One of the major reasons for this is instead of worrying and thinking about their own financial difficulties, a financially stable employee can put those thoughts aside and concentrate on the task at hand and their members.

Finally, help your employees stay financially strong and on track from the beginning by giving them the resources and training needed to learn how to handle their finances.  It is a sad truth, but many people have not learned the proper skills that teach them how to budget, what credit will costs, how to manage their finances, or what their options are when things occur that are out of their control.  To maintain an environment that advocates financial freedom and stability, create a Financial Literacy program in your credit union.  Both Transformance and GreenPath offer free webinars and financial training courses your staff members could utilize.  NEFE (National Endowment for Financial Education) www.nefe.org also offers free financial/retirement trainings and toolkits to help your staff members manage their money and savings.  Another great resource is the National Credit Union Foundation www.ncuf.coop.  They offer several resources to you and your staff build a financial literacy program and motivate your staff to achieve financial freedom.  Finally, utilize the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation.  They are help you get started and point you in the direction you and your credit union would like to go.  It all comes down to motivation… Are your employees motivated to commit fraud or motivated to be financially stable?

Can you think of other ways your credit union can help motivate your employees to financial freedom?  Share those ideas here!

 

For more information regarding Employee Statement Reviews or Employee Loan Trend Reviews, contact:

Pamela Blevins

Remote Financial Services Manager

Financial Technology Resources

Credit Union Resources

Ph. 469-385-6793

Email. Pblevins@curesources.coop

 

Categories: Compliance, Education & Training, Employment & Staffing, Financial & Auditing, Human Resources
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