MX is the new brand marketing

For an industry based on the idea of People Helping People, why aren’t more credit unions laser-focused on Member Experience (MX)? Don’t they know that all those little annoyances add up? Isn’t less hassles supposed to be one of the CU advantage over banks?

For example, my CU apparently decided to switch service providers that track whether mortgagors have insurance on their homes. Last weekend I got a generic form letter requesting some “hazard insurance” information. It had the CU’s logo on the letter, but it was obviously from a third party in another state, and between the layout and wording, it looked a bit phishy.

So I looked at the website listed. Which was apparently built about two decades ago. Which did nothing to reassure me that the letter was legit.

Monday morning I called the mortgage department at my CU, got transferred a couple of times, then finally connected with someone that had no idea that a letter had even gone out but was able to check and confirm that it was legit, then looked up what paperwork was needed.

I then emailed my insurance agent, who sent me the paperwork immediately. And who, it turns out, had already sent the same information to the CU’s old vendor back when the policy renewed. Automatically. Which means if the CU had simply notified me or my agent about the change previously, it wouldn’t have wasted any time for five different people.

A communication gap about a vendor switch kicked things off, then a staff knowledge gap on top of a technology gap compounded a completely avoidable problem. None of the steps needed to avoid this problem would have been expensive or very technical, but no one had looked at the process from the viewpoint of a member.

That all could change if CUs actually start paying attention to MX.

“A happy member tells a friend. An unhappy member tells the world.”

You’ve probably heard similar adages throughout your career, but today it doesn’t matter if you offer all the right products or say all the right things. It matters “what people actually experience vs. what they want to experience.”

Member experience is what your members feel and share with others. It’s the story being told about you. That’s why MX is the new Brand Marketing. It’s where your future growth happens.

That’s why you need to look at everything through MX.

MX is the lens to review every process.

Member experience should be how you evaluate everything you do. From how easy your website is to use, to how easy it is to apply for a loan, to every interaction your staff has with members. Anything that becomes a sticking point needs to be closely looked at in order to remove friction.

This same approach needs to be taken with every vendor that might connect with one of your members. Anytime they reach out to a member on your behalf, every digital service a member interacts with, they are representing you and your reputation and your brand. Make sure their process is simple and understandable.

The website, the online banking, bill pay, P2P, financial dashboard, etc. and so on should be seamless, with no indications that you’re using a different company’s products. Your members expect everything to “just work”.

Sometimes MX is the tech, and yes, real fixes can get expensive.

A lot of attention nowadays is on mobile and online — these are arguably the most important areas that most CUs must improve, since that’s where members touch the CU the most.

The processes many CUs use to make these choices need to get a lot better; cost and lists of features are one of the least important parameters. MX needs to be at the top of the list, not the bottom. Smooth, fast, powerful, intuitive are a lot more important than one more feature.

Even if you’re stuck in a tech vendor quagmire for a while, you can still take action. Maybe you can’t switch online banking vendors quickly, but you could pay more attention to member complaints and feedback, then create better help pages and how-to videos to help members get stuff done.

And you can ALWAYS communicate better. 

If you decide to make a change, start connecting with every member that will be affected BEFORE the change happens. Tell them what is going to happen, when, and why they need to pay attention. Give them the resources they need to make sense of the change, from landing pages with instructions to a series of email notices and reminders.

Put yourself in their shoes, and you’ll keep more members happy.

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