50 Ways To Lose Your Members

First things first, Paul Simon is a musical genius.  Now that we have a common understanding, I will proceed.

Recently, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover graced my ears.  I did not actively seek out this tune, but the precocity of iTunes shuffle prevailed once again.  Because I’m always thinking about credit unions (seriously, it’s an illness), I thought, “If Paul and Art think it’s easy to lose a lover, it’s probably even easier to lose a credit union member.”

I (think I) know what you’re thinking, and yes, it is a stretch.  Either way, member retention is something that a lot of credit unions don’t focus on.  It’s not to say that we are lazy as an industry, but let’s face it, we’ve all got a lot going on and many of us are lucky to keep our heads erect due to the sheer weight of the multiple “hats” we’re wearing.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of tuning in to a Google Hangout with Tom Glatt and a few others  and he echoed the importance of member growth.  Remember, you can’t have growth if you’re CU is hemorrhaging members.  So, here it is: 5 (not 50) Ways to Lose Your Members (not lover):


1. Don’t make a new plan, Stan

“We always run this loan special in the Spring…”  Times, they are a changing.  Your credit union needs to change with them.  So much is said about “thinking outside of the box”.  I say this, “There IS NO box!”  Let’s stop talking about cardboard and get down to brass tacks.  Be unconventional, question traditions and don’t just do what you’ve been doing for years “just because”.  Credit union members have a lot of choices.  Online banking is taking off and banks are working to become less, well, “bankish” every day.

Banks and credit unions sell the same widgets.  Package them differently.


2. DON’T keep doing what you’re doing

Your credit union is unique, no doubt.  Is your membership aware of your CU’s uniqueness?  It is totally necessary to be innovative with marketing and branding strategies, but other things are better left as is.  Member service (I will only address this topic once) is important.  If you’ve got a member-centric mindset and your credit union lives it every day (every day), please skip to #3.  If not, please proceed.

I’m sure many of you have experienced the member that only conducts their business with a certain Member Service Representative (insert your CU’s title).  Why do members do this?  They do this because at one point, that employee went above and beyond what was asked of them for that member.

In my opinion, if we all went above and beyond, this phenomenon would fade away.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing, but one member’s preference to work with only a specific employee implies that they may have had a less than stellar experience while interacting with a different employee.  We need to strive to provide the best service, we don’t necessarily need to talk about how awesome we are at it, though.  Not sure if you’re employees are making the grade?  Why not employ a mystery shop program?  We need to stay honest with ourselves, outside parties are great at doing this.  No one likes holding their own feet to the fire (if that’s even physically possible.)


3. Hop on the bus, Gus

Get out of the office and get into the community!  Already doing three community activities?  Why not make it six?  If people don’t see you out in the communities that you serve, how will they get to know more about you?  Other than what you post on billboards and run on the radio or TV, how are your members and prospective members learning about you?  Community events, when done correctly are the best marketing your credit union can do.  Let your members see you living the credit union lifestyle.  Start conversations with them outside of the branch.  Ask how your credit union is meeting or falling short of meeting their needs.  Show them that you care (actually caring helps as well) and use their feedback to address issues that need to be dealt with.

Let me be clear here, I am NOT talking about throwing sponsorship dollars around.  I am NOT talking about hanging a banner somewhere with your logo on it and expecting people to see it, actually process it and then make a “buying decision”.  No one does this, no one.  We need to get our brands out there in traditional ways, but if you can get your brand out there and have employees there to talk about making people’s lives easier, your credit union’s success at retaining and attracting new members will skyrocket.  What I AM talking about (Willis?)


4. You don’t need to discuss much?

You may not need to discuss much about “leaving your lover”, but you do need to spend time talking strategy.  Ideally, the amount of time you spend should shake out like this (from least amount of time to most): 1. Talking (everyone loves meeting right?) 2. Planning (“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”) 3. Executing (Not that sort of executing.)

We’re busy, but no one is too busy to do their due diligence.  Plans should always come first!  You may want to be the first credit union on Pinterest (trivial right?), but once you get on the website, what the heck are you going to post?  How are you going to use it to provide value to your membership?  How are you going to avoid being a salesperson?  You can apply this to budgeting, loan growth, marketing, membership growth, you name it.  I’m not casting stones here, but it has become apparent to me that there is a lot of doing, but little thought behind the action.  Lay your plans first, carry them out and then assess what can be done better.


5. Don’t let your meaning be lost or misconstrued

Don’t embrace social (new) media.  There’s no ROI, right?  I’m calling BS on this argument.  You want statistics?  Well, go find them for yourself.  I am more concerned with results.  I’ve been a part of managing social media campaigns for credit unions for three years (impressive right? lol).  There is an ROI and it CANNOT be measured traditionally.  You don’t measure water and square footage the same way, how can you expect to measure two completely different tactics the same way?

I expect, no, I welcome disagreement.  Discourse is good.  Results are better.  What are the results of a properly run social media campaign?  At the credit union I worked at prior to my current venture, we decreased the average age of our membership by 3.5 years in twelve months time.  Furthermore, 86% of net new members were under the age of 46.  Need more?  Here, 60% of that same net new membership was under 31 years old.  Read this white paper for more.  Pick your metrics, work your plan and reap the rewards.

Social media is the easiest way to get your message out of your branches and in front of more people.  It is a relationship builder.  Stronger relationships generally lead to higher member retention.  If you’re lucky enough, you might get people talking about you.  When this happens, sit back and enjoy the show.  I’m not saying Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and whatever other platform you prefer should be your primary focus.  What I am saying is that they provide value to your members and when you have the right person running your campaign, it’s cost effective and high impact.


What are some other ways to lose your lover (err… members?)  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Without wax,



The Ohio Credit Union Facebook

The countdown has begun.  I am leaving tomorrow (July 15, 2012) to start a new adventure in Wisconsin, or, as I like to call it, “The Credit Union Mecca.”  I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately.  This isn’t going to be a soppy blog post, but I think it is only natural for one to conduct an extensive examination of where one has already been and where one plans on going when making a career move.  Keep in mind that the furthest I have ever ventured from Sandusky, OH for more than a week was Bowling Green, OH for college and that was a whopping 59 mile trek.

Now, I find myself about to move 513 miles away from everything that I’ve ever known.  The one thing that remains constant is my love for credit unions.  If you’re reading this, it’s probably not news to you.  You may even be thinking it’s not that big of a deal.  You’re right it’s not, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the great Ohio credit union revolutionaries that I have been blessed to work, collaborate and share conversations with.  So, if you’re reading this, I would strongly encourage you to connect with the people I am about to mention.  I have come to find that these individuals are top-notch people, live and breathe the credit union mission and will do anything within their power (and within the law, of course) to make sure that credit unions remain top-of-mind.  So, without further adieu, here they are:

Deborah Schaffer – Directions Credit Union


Deb is a CU Rockstar, plain and simple.  I’ve had the great pleasure of doing financial literacy presentations with her, talking about grand ideas, thinking about how we can make credit unions more relevant to younger members and how we can work to further our community outreach efforts.  I could go on and on.  I consider Deb to be a great friend and I know that anything she does will end up being successful.  She has a drive unlike most people and her intentions are always, let me repeat, always founded on the concept of improving other people’s lives.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of talking/tweeting with her, please look her up.  I guarantee that the above words cannot do her the justice she deserves.

Amanda Thomas McMeans – Members First Credit Union


Talk about a go getter.  Amanda singlehandedly rebranded her Columbus, OH based credit union and helped to orchestrate a 3-way credit union merger.  Her Member Bill of Rights program is, in a word, genius.  I had the privilege of meeting her and her awesome husband at The Ohio Credit Union League’s (OCUL) Invest 48.  What you see of Amanda via new media is what you get in person.  She has an infectious (think good infection) personality and she is most definitely a mover and shaker in the CU world.

Mike Barr – Commodore Perry Federal Credit Union


Mike is another Ohio CU revolutionary that I met at the OCUL’s Invest 48.  I was really impressed with how tapped in he is to all of the things that most CEOs don’t think about.  Mike totally gets that the future of credit unions is completely dependent on our ability to increase our relevance to both our current members and potential members alike.  He’s a very sharp guy and runs an awesome credit union.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with his employees and talk about marketing earlier this July and you could tell that her has empowered them to do what needs to be done in order to make sure Commodore Perry FCU is braced for many more years of success.

Patrick Harris – Ohio Credit Union League


Patrick is just a cool dude in general.  This guy wakes up every morning thinking (pure conjecture here), “What can I do today to help______ credit union in ____, OH?”  If you’ve ever met him, you know he is 100% genuine in his efforts to do whatever he can to make your job easier.  This guy sends out emails about opportunities for press coverage, calls just to see how things are going in your neck of the woods and would pretty much do whatever he can to make sure your credit union and its members have the support of the OCUL.  I’ve participated in a couple of webinars that he’s moderated and learned a lot.  Early in my adventure with VacationLand Federal Credit Union, the information and sessions he provided helped immensely in my efforts to truly grasp what the credit union revolution (movement, industry choose which one you like best) is all about.

I’m leaving a lot of people out here and I hope no one is offended.  Honestly, if I named everyone in Ohio that has been and continues to be consistently awesome, this very well could be the longest blog post ever.

The bottom line here is this: I am extremely grateful to have been a small part of the wonderful things that are occurring throughout my home state.  The people mentioned above, as well and a horde of others are really moving credit unions forward.

This is my way of saying thanks.  You guys and gals are awesome and there is no award or recognition that could truly do justice for all that you have done and are yet to do.  I look forward to staying in touch with all of you and seeing you at conferences.  Please keep doing what you are doing and remember that all of us are MAKING A DIFFERENCE in thousands of people’s lives.

At the end of the day, making a difference (for the positive) is what all of us are put on this earth to do.

Without wax,