It’s Christmastime again, which means family and friends are running about making preparations for the big day. Shopping, cooking, cards, all that fun stuff. Many families will drop hints with children asking some variation of the age-old question “What do you want for Christmas?

While responses from children will undoubtedly be as many and varied (and potentially expensive) as they always are, have you ever thought about what your credit union might say if asked a similar question? As strategic marketing consultants for credit unions and banks across the country, it’s a question we ask frequently this time of year.

“ABC Credit Union, what would you like for Christmas?”

Note: Try not to picture your credit union sitting on a mall Santa Claus’ lap. Trust me, I did and it’s a hard image to forget.

What’s on your credit union’s wish list this year? The answer really lies in your own heart and mind. What do you think your credit union needs most?

Are you in need of additional branches? Better technology? A new or revamped brand? A member experience program that will knock the socks off of everyone who interacts with your credit union? Maybe staffing changes? New loan products? What about a better strategic planning process? Could your credit union really need to push Santa to his limits by asking for a new name?

Whatever your credit union’s fondest wish this Christmas, it’s unlikely a quick visit to your local Santa Claus will fully address the need. And while leaving out a plate of cookies and milk never hurts, the solution will more likely come from deep-level conversations. Strategic changes like these require firm decisions and commitment to an action plan from your board, leadership team and staff.

It also never hurts to ask your members what they think your credit union needs.

We often find leadership teams are surprised by survey responses from their membership. In the credit union world, we tend to silo ourselves into our daily activities and focus too much on the tactical things demanding our attention while losing sight of the overall (yet critical) strategic issues challenging us.

Asking your membership their honest opinion about the current status of your credit union as well as how they think it could be improved is often an eye-opening (even if a little painful) experience. Simple conduct off-the-cuff interviews with members in your branches, or you can make the process more formalized with focus groups or online surveys.

Regardless of how you discover your credit union’s needs, the most important thing is that you address them.

Whatever the Christmas wish of your credit union this year, the team at On The Mark Strategies wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!