Last year the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty and rewards programs merged. Early this year they announced the name of the new program as Marriott Bonvoy.

Sound confusing? I’m a loyal Marriott customer and didn’t understand the change and how it affected me. But I’m just one of millions of customers. It’s no big deal if I missed some of the communication details. But what if their employees are confused too?

When traveling recently I asked the general manager of one of Marriott’s significant properties, “Can you explain this whole Bonvoy thing to me? Why it happened and what it means?”

His answer: “I have no idea.”

And this was a GENERAL MANAGER.

Not the person cleaning the rooms, not the receptionist, not the food server. But the general manager!

How well can your employees communicate your credit union or bank’s brand?

The reality is many financial institution employees today struggle with basic branding and product questions.

How can you help your employees better communicate? Here are a few tips:


Explain the why


Simon Sinek (through Ted Talks and books) famously emphasizes “start with the why.” That principle certainly applies to your employees. While you can drill and push things to them it’s best if they know your credit union or bank’s “why.”

  • Why should someone choose your financial institution?
  • Why are your products better than the competition?
  • Why do you open your doors every day?

Communicate the why and watch employee communication skills increase.


Give talking points


Marriott either didn’t give that general manager talking points or he clearly had not read them. When launching new products or initiatives, reduce the core message to key points. Then share those briefings with your entire team.

Bonus Tip: cut those communications to three key points.


Train the brand


Credit unions and banks do all sorts of employee training: BSA, compliance, sales and service, operations, etc. When was the last time you did brand training? This type of training refers to spending time educating your staff all about your brand (vision, value proposition, niches, messaging, tagline, etc.).

No matter what your brand says it is, it’s your employees who live it every day. And they can’t live what they don’t know.


Teach your products


Donald Miller famously says, “If you confuse, you lose.” How confused about your products are your employees?

If you have 7 or 8 checking accounts, a plethora of different loans and countless savings offerings more than likely your people don’t know that many details. Consistent product knowledge training is critical when it comes to your employees’ ability to communicate those products.


Overcommunicate everything


While all those steps above are great, they are not one-time things. You must do them consistently and regularly. In fact, you must overcommunicate your brand and your products. If you are getting tired of the messaging, then you might just be hitting the mark with your team.


Test for understanding


Assume absolutely nothing when it comes to your employees’ knowledge of your products and brand. You must test how well they know these items. Whether it is mystery shops, surveys, tests or random questions you have to double-check their knowledge. As the old Russian proverb says, “Trust, but verify.”



If your employees—at all levels—were asked to explain one of your products or to explain your brand, would they answer like the general manager with “I have no idea.” If so, use the tips above to close that communication gap.

PS: Want more employee communication training tips? Mark and Elizabeth recently facilitated leadership training with Centric Federal Credit Union and shared key insights into Employee Communication. Check out the highlights here and contact to find a training program that fits your credit union.