Last week I taught at Southwest CUNA Management School. I’ve been on faculty there for more than 10 years, and let me tell you: these students are amazing.
We talked about branding and how credit union employees living a brand involves more than wearing a logo shirt. Students shared examples of ways their credit unions are wowing members—and living their brands—through exceptional member experiences. Here are a few of my favorite stories they shared.
Implement a Random Give Back Program
(Russell High, Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, OK)
When you’re in the financial industry, it’s hard to wow people more than by making a payment instead of asking for a payment. But that’s exactly what Russ and his team at Tinker FCU do through a unique “give back” program.
Several times a month (yes, a month!) they randomly select different members, push a button in their system and voila! The credit union covers that member’s monthly payment. Members talk to their friends about it (why wouldn’t you tell people if your credit union paid your mortgage for you??), post on social media and even call Tinker to say thank you. Tinker has been doing this program for 10 years now, and my guess is they’ll keep it going many years to come.
Put Members Above Profit
(Stephanie Miller, Communication FCU, Oklahoma City, OK)
Stephanie and the folks at Communication FCU are wowing members by putting themselves in members’ shoes—and basements. Oklahoma residents face serious tornado threats. Seeing a need, the credit union created a storm shelter loan program. They partner with storm shelter companies throughout the state and offer loans that start as low as .75 percent. The credit union might only make $50 on a three-year loan, but as Stephanie said, “Our position was simply that we wanted our members to be protected.” That’s a kind of care that will wow any member.
Offer a No Credit Check Loan Specific to Member Needs
(Diandra, Murga-Laskowski, Bethpage FCU, Bethpage, NY)
Diandra’s credit union partners with a nonprofit that helps immigrants become citizens. They created a loan program with a $500-800 no credit check loan to help hopeful citizens get on their feet, obtain documentation and start their new lives. By the time these members become American citizens, they’re not just U.S. citizens for life—they’re nearly always Bethpage members for life too, all because the credit union went above and beyond to get them where they wanted to go.
Host Mid-year Drives to Support the Local Community
(Tonya Henley, First Family FCU, Henryetta OK)
What Tonya and her team at First Family are doing to serve teachers—and simultaneously wow the local community—is something you’ll want to write down. They took a spin on the classic “Angel Tree” and created an “Apple Tree.”
During the back to school season, members write down a teacher’s name and what supplies they need for their classroom. Anyone who comes into the credit union—members and staff alike—can grab an apple to support a local teacher. The Apple Tree gives members a reason to engage with the credit union and shows teachers they care.
Make Extreme Weather Work in Your Favor
(Lina Abshire, Beacon FCU, La Porte, Texas)
Texas summers are hot. That’s an understatement. But what’s not an understatement is how much Beacon FCU members are wowed when they walk into any Beacon branch in July and see the Kona Ice truck. Lina and her team bring this popular mobile shaved ice franchise directly to their members, turning visiting the credit union on a sweaty day from a chore into a reward. That’s a wow!
(Carmina Paniagua, Members Choice CU, Houston, Texas)
Much like the give back program at Tinker, Members Choice Credit Union in Houston is wowing members by creating a sense of hopeful anticipation. The credit union recently launched an autoloan program in which anyone who opened a new autoloan was entered into a random drawing. The winner had their car note paid for an entire year!
Empower Employees and Frontlines Staff
(Con Brazeal, Southwest 66 CU, Odessa, Texas)
Southwest 66 CU knows the secret to wowing members: involve employees first. All their frontlines staff united to organize a cookout and raise money for a local animal shelter. They handed out hot dogs in the drive through line, asked for donations and raised $1,000 for the shelter. You can bet if I drove through a credit union window and got a hot dog, I’d be wowed…and probably find an excuse to come back through to get another!
These are just a few examples of ways credit unions are wowing members and creating massive brand loyalty. Your credit union could too. Get creative. The more creative, the more wow your ideas will be.