SPOKANE, Wash. (10/10/14)--A business that knows its customers and continually strives to build its brand will achieve success regardless of what it sells, CUNA Mutual Group's Susan Sachatello told a general session audience Wednesday at the Northwest Credit Union Association's Amplify Convention in Spokane, Wash.
Sachatello, senior vice president of TruStage and a former executive for Victoria's Secret and Lands' End, said it's imperative to apply a retail-focused approach to financial services. "We're all in consumer retailing. If you keep a clear focus on the customer and the brand, everything else you do is the same whether you're selling lingerie or financial services," she said.
A clear brand establishes a company's reason for existence and should communicate a unique and compelling set of attributes. It's a story well-told and helps a business perform three key disciplines: product, price and experience, she said.
"To compete, you must perform in all three disciplines, and to become a market leader, you must outperform competitors in one of those disciplines. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to lead in all three areas. We need to choose where we want to lead," Sachatello added.
Equally important is knowing your customers and adjusting your brand to meet their changing preferences. Sachatello discussed the rise of mobile media and the emergence of new payment options.
"Mobile is no longer viewed as a growing medium; it's the preferred method of communication," she said.
Sachatello advised the audience to know what matters to members. Watch what they're doing and notice changing patterns with their buying habits and lifestyle. "One of the things I learned being a retailer is that you really have to see the world through the customer's eyes. No matter how well known your brand is, you're never done building it. As customer preferences change, you have to change with it.
In building the TruStage brand, Sachatello said her team examines consumer buying behaviors for all consumer goods, not just insurance products, to ensure the delivery of coverage through the members' preferred channels. Consumers are encouraged to obtain even a little coverage, giving them peace of mind and raising their awareness. TruStage often invests up to seven years in the customer relationship before it becomes profitable, but it strengthens the relationship with the consumer and the consumer's relationship with their credit union, she added.