Show them how a credit union really is different.

3 ways to earn your members’ trust

There’s an old saying, “May you live in interesting times,” which supposedly refers back to an old curse. If you’ve not heard of it before, the gist is that it’s better to live in a “boring” time of peace and prosperity instead of an “interesting” time of conflict and change.

And when it comes to people’s finances, this sentiment is right on the money.

Most CUs are trying their best to attract members ages 35 and under. Consider what the average 35-year-old has seen in their relatively short time as an adult: We’ve had black swan event after black swan event since the early 2000’s. And it seems like all the news we see is full of doom and gloom, whether that’s from broadcast media or online.

It makes sense that your average person is apprehensive about the future. Younger members have concerns, to put it lightly, and they’re looking to you for reassurance. If you can’t provide that reassurance, you run the risk of losing your members’ trust. The good news is that credit unions are worth trusting, and there are real, actionable things you can do to show that quality.

Here are three ways to build up your members’ confidence, and earn their trust:

Be there when they need it

Part of the appeal of the credit union model is that the members are the first priority. After all, people want to be part of a community where others care about them. The unfortunate thing is that, while low rates and federally insured savings accounts are great perks, they feel a little impersonal. Luckily there are a variety of ways to show the CU’s human side, and add more of a personal touch.

One of these opportunities comes with the products that CUs can offer members when they need help. These could be debt consolidation, first-time-buyer home and car loans, or getting started with a checking account. But the important thing in this case isn’t advertising the product, it’s the connection you make with the member at that time.

Another way to get chummy is financial education and coaching. Talking about your finances is still pretty much taboo for Americans, even today. There’s a good chance that at least some of your members don’t really know how to manage their money.

So why not invite your members in for a chat? People show up for yearly doctor’s visits, and more than likely they’d do the same for their financial health. But this is where you should be leveraging your local expertise, as well. One of our clients has a strong connection with their local high school where they can talk about money management and make a connection even earlier.

Acknowledge and reward their loyalty

Every credit union knows people don’t like to change financial institutions. But this member-acquisition headache can become your best friend when building your members’ trust. People love being praised, and you have an opportunity to remind your long-time members that they have been loyal and trustworthy. So why not thank them for sticking around?

You can also take this a step further and offer your members rewards based on how connected they are to the credit union. Some credit unions are already doing this, and their members can typically earn up to a 1.0% discount on loan rates. This approach incentivizes single-service members to use more services, and new members to stick around so that they get an even better deal in the future.

Walk your talk

Credit unions are community-oriented, and a lot of their advantages come from being able to speak to and connect with the community in ways large corporations won’t. The flip side of this advantage is that there’s both a need and a pressure for credit unions to live up to that potential. It can sometimes be difficult to “walk the talk,” so to speak, but the power of a close personal connection shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Your members want to feel like you understand them, and they’re right to do so. But there’s also no guarantee that your members fully understand you. You’re going to have to remind members about all the things the credit union does to help.

For example, a lot of CUs like to advertise their rates. All the CU apostles out there know how credit unions offer lower rates, but a lot of people have no idea there’s even a difference. In fact, it’s a safe bet that even some of your members don’t really understand how rates work. And just touting something like a low rate without context doesn’t remind members where that benefit comes from.

If you want your members to think of their credit union as both trustworthy and safe, you need to be communicating with them openly, clearly and directly. Become the people who they can come to for answers and advice. Show them how a credit union really is different.

Remember, a good rate speaks to the wallet, and feeling appreciated speaks to the heart

You have the chance to do both.

Sam Dicken

Email this article to a friend or coworker.