The power of storytelling

The power of storytelling

Stories are an influential tool when building relationships.

May 2, 2017

When I first started working for CUNA, I was pleased to run into an old friend I had worked with at a pre­vious company. I was still getting a feel for my job and this industry, so I asked him what he liked about working with credit unions.

Without hesitation, he replied, “I love the fact that we’re part of a movement. It’s so much more than a job to me.”

At first I was confused. Then I learned about “people helping people” and the lightbulb went on.

At its core, the “people helping people” philosophy means you work hard every day to build relationships with your members so you can help them realize their finan­cial dreams.

Did you know the most powerful tool in building those relationships is sharing sto­ries about how you’ve helped other people achieve their goals?

Don’t believe me? Check out “Mud on the Tires” by Brad Paisley. I’m talking about stories that have a major impact on members—not just how you deposited their check into the correct account.

It’s easy to tell stories about members you’ve helped, and how you’ve helped them. Start by answering the following questions:

  1. Who is the person and how was he or she struggling? Describe the member’s situation—for example, the member who worked two jobs to save enough money to buy a first home.
  2. Why was the person motivated to accept assistance? Based on your experi­ence with the member, why was now the time to do something differently?
  3. What outcome did the person achieve with the credit union’s help? For example, maybe they saved enough for a down payment, set aside in savings the equiva­lent of three months of bills, or didn’t need to use a credit card to meet daily expenses.
  4. How did you, your credit union, and/or your services allow the member to over­come obstacles? Maybe you told the per­son about a low-interest, short-term loan to avoid payday lenders, or how overdraft protection could save them hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
  5. What is life like for the member now, after reaching the goal? Talk about how much the person appreciates the credit union’s role in making this accomplish­ment happen.

As you share your stories, you might even discover that many of your col­leagues haven’t heard the most impactful ones. And once you write down your sto­ries, you can easily share them with your marketing colleagues, who will be excited to share those stories with potential members so your credit union can assist even more people.

As we like to say at CUNA, other companies work hard to find their social mission and convince their customers they do good work. What we do in credit unions is a social mission. “People help­ing people” is more than a philosophy. It’s what we do.

It’s time to tell the rest of the country about it, too. Now start collecting those stories!

ANGELA PRESTIL is CUNA’s director of business development. Contact her at

This article initially appeared in Credit Union Front Line newsletter, the monthly sales and service newsletter for branch staff and their managers. Subscribe now to the print edition or PDF.