Let’s face it: the business world is full of annoying clichés, trite phrases and overused “hip” terminology. Credit unions and banks are no different.

It’s time to examine our own speech and refresh it. Aren’t there things you’ve heard so many times at your shop that if you hear it again, you’ll smack your head against the wall? Consider the following four things we say too often in credit unions and banks.

1)  What’s the ROI of … ? Before all the number-crunchers freak out, I do believe ROI is important, especially when tracking marketing results. However, marketers readily know that actually tracking the ROI of many efforts, such as mass advertising and branding, is extremely difficult. While we must keep an eye on ROI, it should not crack a whip over our heads. The next time your CEO asks you for the ROI of branding, for example, ask him or her what’s the ROI of their mother. You’ll get odd stares and will initiate (hopefully) some great conversation. Use this example at your own risk!

2)  We need a sales and service culture around here. Welcome to the 21st century! Of course you need a sales and service culture. Every bank and credit union does. It’s a must-do. We must get out of the habit of thinking of themselves as order-takers and embrace the reality of what we do: providing a retail service to customers. Yes, I said retail. Just like Apple, Amazon or Neiman Marcus. Banks and credit unions that learn to shift to this role will prosper while those that don’t will wither. Stop talking about a sales and service culture and implement a retail experience culture.

3)  How satisfied are our consumers? What a lame question, yet we hear it all the time. If all you care about is satisfied customers, you should lock the vault, turn off the lights and close up shop now. A satisfied customer means very little. A wowed customer, a blown-away with your service customer, a captured-by-the –heart-forever customer, that’s where it’s at! If all your customers are is merely satisfied, they have no real reason to stay an active with your financial institution. The competition will quickly lure them away. Your bank or credit union must move beyond the search for “satisfied” customers and learn to cultivate “I just got my socks knocked off at the bank or credit union” customer. Satisfaction is worthless; loyalty is priceless.

4)  We need to do a promotion for … Credit unions and banks must also move away from the typical and stale promotion calendar mentality of pushing certain things at certain times of the year, like used car loans every fall. To succeed in the new consumer culture, you must push and promote your brand, not your products. Your brand, as the spirit and voice of your bank or credit union, will (again, hopefully) bring new customers in the door. Once they’re inside, wow them with your products. Make overall brand and not specific products the focus of your marketing and communications efforts.

There you have it: four things we say too often in banks and credit unions, the overused clichés that should send all seasoned executives running.