Make the Most of First Contact

Connect with members from the moment you meet.

February 24, 2015

Make the Most of First Contact

A new member comes to you to open a checking account or ask for a loan. And you have that person’s full attention.

It’s the perfect moment to talk about what else your credit union can do to help the member.

But there are some do’s and don’ts in that process, says Carla Schrinner, implementation manager and senior master trainer with CUNA Creating Member Loyalty:

1. It’s not about products

“What I tell credit unions is, the key is to turn off this concept of product and turn on the concept of need,” Schrinner says. Your task is to find out what that financial need is. The member may ask for a checking account, for instance, but what she’s really looking for is a convenient way to pay bills. What’s the best way for the credit union to meet that need?

2. Ask questions

If the member requests a car loan, for example, ask what he’s looking for in a vehicle. Is it reliability? Does he need a new car, or would a less-expensive used car accomplish the same purpose?

“It’s about asking questions to learn the ‘why’ behind the need,” Schrinner says.

3. Ask permission

Starting to ask questions out of the blue can make new members uneasy. So first, request permission to ask questions, Schrinner advises.

“Tell the member you’d like to ask some questions,” she says, “so that together you can find the right solution.”

4. Set the stage for follow-up

Your No. 1 goal, Schrinner emphasizes, must be to meet the member’s immediate need. Presenting a litany of other products and services unrelated to their immediate need can be a turn-off to members.

Still, inform the member that your goal is to continue to look for ways to serve the member’s financial needs. Ask for permission to initiate future contacts, and find out what form of contact the member prefers.

“Tell the member what kind of relationship to expect with the credit union going forward,” Schrinner says. “Build that into that initial conversation.”