What nonmembers want
What do nonmembers say would convince them to begin using credit union services? The top five needs, along with the percentages of nonmembers who selected each one, are:
Credit unions bucking the dismal membership trend and achieving solid membership growth do so by meeting these needs head on.
Partners Federal delivers stellar service based on several strategies. It has a member service advisory council in each of its three markets: Orlando, Fla., and Burbank and Anaheim, Calif. Each council acts as a sounding board and builds stronger member relationships within their respective communities.
“We get good, down-to-earth information on what’s working and what isn’t,” Terzian says. “The council members also build excitement about the credit union. It’s amazing how fast they can spread the word about our promotions and initiatives.”
Another service element is enabling cast members to conduct their financial affairs “at work, at home, or at will” through conveniently located branches, online banking, and mobile banking. The credit union also builds relationships with different Disney companies, such as by doing a car loan promotion around the release of the movie “Cars 2.”
These strategies and others deliver on the “cast members serving cast members” promise—that unique proposition, as Terzian calls it, that helps Partners Federal attract and retain members. Don’t merely talk about service as the credit union difference, Terzian suggests, but “bake it into everything you do.”
A window is closing
For the past two years, credit unions have had a prime opportunity to promote their service orientation while many nonmembers looked for an alternative to banks.
In 2011, however, consumers’ opinions about banks seem to be on the mend. Is the window of opportunity closing? Will credit unions act quickly enough?
A lot of bank advertising now projects a customer-focused, trustworthy image. The image repair work seems to be reaping some benefits.
Nonmembers’ satisfaction with their banks has rebounded since CUNA’s Survey of Potential Members two years ago. Two-thirds of nonmembers now claim to be “very satisfied” with their banks, and 30% are “somewhat satisfied.” These figures compare with 55% and 37%, respectively, in 2009.
Fourteen percent of nonmembers say they’re more satisfied with their banks than they were a year ago, 78% are equally satisfied, and 8% are less satisfied.
A related survey points to a significant gap between the satisfaction levels of credit union members who use banks (50% very satisfied) and nonmembers who use banks (66% very satisfied). This raises interesting questions:
This is in line with CUNA’s survey findings, which note that 96% of nonmembers say they’re at least “somewhat satisfied” with their banks.
The Ernst & Young report goes on to tell banks that the keys to success in the future will be brand management, personalized service, and efficient pricing. Ironically, those strategies come right out of the credit union playbook.
Next: Opportunities abound