credit union member servicesSeveral years ago auto industry experts predicted Tesla would not take root and eventually fail. Little did they know that Tesla was changing the auto industry.  How is Tesla capturing the attention of buyers when the major car companies have more money, engineers, resources and industry experience?  On top of the eco-friendliness and amazing quality of their vehicles, the electric car company is changing the industry through manufacturing and a direct to consumers sales model. They have found a way to transform the thought that green cars have to be cheap and tiny, they can be big, luxurious and expensive. By creating this feeling of exclusivity, Tesla drivers know they are in rare form as they "fuel" up at charging stations. So how can a credit union deliver exclusive service like Tesla?

The world of financial institutions has long been thought of as conservative, serious, and sometimes boring. These aren’t altogether bad concepts as people desire security and credibility for their money. The credit union industry, that for so long has worked to develop a sound platform, making a move to become more engaging and imaginative might seem like a stretch for some executives. The mindset that people want boring, status quo banking has been shifting over recent years. People want to feel special and be recognized; credit unions are positioned to do just that.

Strategies for a credit union to elevate their profile

Results from a Brand Desire survey in Feb 2012 looked at the brands that 22,000 people across the world most desire and why. Paypal ranked #23 in the U.S. for being approachable and cooperative. How do companies like Paypal and Tesla connect with their customers as real people? As identified by the survey results, these companies adopt the following strategies:

1. Have Clarity of Purpose – Have an inspiring purpose that goes beyond financial transactions and makes a real difference in people's lives.

2. Inspire Connections – Focus on winning people's hearts, not just their wallets.

3. Focus on the Future – Harness technology to help re-invent people's money lives.

4. Create Experiences – Use every touch point to reinforce your brand’s purpose and personality.

With the right credit union software backing up your purpose, you can take your credit union member services to the next level, and empower your members to be part of your own exclusive club.

Learn More About FLEX Member Services

In her book, Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd, Harvard professor and marketing expert Youngme Moon offers some advice for credit unions looking to differentiate themselves. Simply put, your credit union doesn’t need to be better, sometimes it is about creating something different. Credit unions won’t stand out if they go toe-to-toe with competitors to just 'keep up'.   

Moon says, “The ability to compete, in turn, is dependent on the ability to differentiate from competitors.” Credit unions must develop a true differentiation strategy.   Hint: it’s not service (everyone says that). What makes your credit union different? You must be able to answer that question in 15 words or less and without the words “people,” “service” or “community,” as these are terms every credit union will use, and are not a differentiator. 

“Just talking about differentiation gets you nowhere," Moon continues. "You must be willing to make hard decisions. If you are competing on experience, then invest in your branches; if you are competing on members/service, then invest in your employees; if you are competing on price, then invest in efficient operations." And for credit unions, competing on exclusivity may be key to winning, but simply stating you are exclusive isn't going to cut it. As Moon writes, "Don’t expect differentiation to just happen: pay the price.”

Credit unions realize there is room for improvement when it comes to connecting with members to create a unique and memorable experience. How each CU accomplishes this will be dependent on its purpose and ability to connect with members, and stand out from the competition.

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