What a character!

Are you meeting members’ expectations?

December 5, 2011

I have a friend who calls me Snow White. Apparently, he believes I bear some resemblance to this delightful Disney character.

This poses an interesting juxtaposition to the resemblance my three younger brothers claimed I bore to the Wicked Witch of the West! Whose perceptions are reality?!

I would like to think of myself as someplace in between these drastic extremes, but it makes me wonder, are we perceived as who we think we are? Or do others envision us another way?

Do your members think the products and services you provide are as relevant and timely as you do? Are you positioning your offerings above and beyond their expectations—and beyond their comfortable acceptance of such considerations as technological sophistication in the process in your attempt to be cutting edge?

Or are you hitting below their level of expectations? Perhaps this varies depending on the different select employee groups you serve.

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Kloth is a research librarian at Credit Union National Association.

Hopefully your credit union is on target with member interests, capabilities, and expectations. If so, how can you continue on a path of growth together?

Research findings this week may allow you to consider such inquiries should you attempt to imagine seeing yourself as others see you.

Gulliver had some interesting travels to unknown territories that significantly broadened his horizons. Maybe a glimpse at some global economic perspectives can help to broaden our horizons as well…

This week, Wharton posts some provocative articles on economic conditions in faraway lands. In “Zvi Eckstein: A Former Central Banker’s View of Economic and Social Hot Spots,” the interviewee shares that the Israeli economy is somewhat dependent on the U.S. with regard to their technological exports, that political climate affects the economy, and “The key to collaboration and economic development for Middle Eastern countries is stability, peace, and competition policies…”

Another Wharton international economic exploration is found in “Italy (and the Global Economy): An End to La Dolce Vita?”  It states, “If the run on Italian bonds continues, leading somehow to Italy’s inability to meet its debt obligations, then an extremely serious worldwide financial crisis could result…”

Youthful expectations
Again at Wharton, “A Primer for Protestors”  reveals that in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement here, one can draw comparisons to “counterparts in the Arab Spring movement earlier this year. “There is a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protestors regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable…”

The world’s youth are a mighty force. Are you meeting youthful expectations?

And do international markets affect your operations in any way? How can you buffer any ill effects that may result for members?

What lessons can we learn about the economic consequences of politics, exports, and so on from abroad and use them to anticipate what might lie ahead for us?

Bumbling Pink Panther detective Jacques Clouseau was all about getting the facts, sometimes with unfortunate results. Another Wharton article, “’Drinking from a Fire Hose’: Has Consumer Data Mining Gone Too Far?”  asks us to consider appropriate levels of data mining from social media. “In a world of endless information sharing, consumers have become the product.”

Many companies use this strategy to their advantage, while others take it too far.

How do you use data mining? Have you explored the option of social media as a resource? Would your members be receptive or resentful? Is such data accumulation done at an appropriate level in your marketing efforts?

Everyone’s favorite orphan, Annie, confronted loads of economic uncertainty until Daddy Warbucks made her dreams come true. The Rockefeller Foundation’s study, “Economic Insecurity and the Great Recession” reveals, “Surprisingly little is known about the dynamic experiences of Americans as the economic standing has changed from year to year amid a turbulent economy…”

Are your members economically secure or insecure? How would you make this determination? What can you do to help those still struggling?

It wouldn’t be December without muses about The Grinch and his holiday aspirations. See “Give Them What They Want: The Benefits of Explicitness in Gift Exchange”  and note that cash as a gift, although impersonal, isn’t a bad thing. Do you facilitate prepaid cards
as gifts for your members to promote your institution? How can you make the gift of money a bonus for your credit union?

Also in Grinch mode, "Black Friday Spending Up Despite Continued Pessimism," Gallup reports.

What are your members’ spending patterns? Are they racking up debt they can’t afford?

What’s their confidence level with the economy? Is there a practical opportunity for focused financial literacy efforts during the holiday season?

Whether we’re perceived as the adventurous Indiana Jones, the cheerful Mickey Mouse, or the stable, yet underappreciated, Kermit the Frog, we make an impression with our attitudes, knowledge, outreach, expertise, and reputation.

Make perceptions reality. Be the happy ending for your members!

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.