Each new member is cause for celebration, and it's important to let them know that.

The Care and Feeding of New Members

The first few months are the perfect time to solidify your CU’s relationship with new members. Of course, it’s important to increase their number of account relationships and all that, but what can marketers do to really get new members excited about the credit union, and maybe even turn them into credit union evangelists?

After all, new members have the sharpest memories of the contrasts between banks and CUs, and for many of them, the CU helped them achieve something emotionally significant they couldn’t find at a bank — a home, reliable transportation, or a feeling of safety. And as with any new purchase or decision, people are most excited when it’s fresh.

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

Personal Welcome: How cool would it be to get a call from the CEO after opening your new account? I’ve also heard of CUs that send a letter from the CEO to new members with the CEO’s direct phone number and/or email address. You could also do something similar with the branch manager’s information — basically forge a personal connection, and let the new member know in a tangible way that they can be heard and that they’re important.

Directing the Indirects: New members gained through indirect auto loans are a famously tough nut to crack. They tend to quietly make their loan payments and then vanish in a few years. What can you do to build loyalty and forge a connection with members who may have never seen the credit union? Make them a few offers they can’t refuse — loyalty to banks is at a weak point (just look at the headlines), so more of these members might finally be open to moving more of their business to the credit union.

Welcome to the Neighborhood: For new members brought in via mortgages, the time to talk about everything else the CU offers may not be while they’re trying to rearrange everything else in their lives. But the credit union can still do a lot to help with the financing, closing, and moving process. Even little things, like on-site closings or flexible hours, can mean a lot. After they’re settled in their new home, what can the CU offer to help out?

New Member Training: Some things are hard to figure out on your own or learn from a brochure. Instead of buzzing quickly through a rote account opening process, what can your member service people do to make sure new members really understand how to make the best use of the CU’s services? Put yourself in the members’ shoes — what do they need to know?

Formal seminars are a good way to tackle some financial topics, but what about the member who’s confused by the internet home banking — and a little embarrassed about it? Maybe a new member is feeling a little over his head in debt, and would love to sit down and ask some questions. Perhaps you could offer to schedule free one-on-one “training” or “question and answer” sessions with your best member service people. Again, you’re forging a personal connection, taking responsibility, and probably listening to the new member in a way she’s never been listened to before.

Of course, there are many other ways of making new members feel welcome. Each new member is cause for celebration, and it’s important to let them know that. What are your ideas?

Brian Wringer

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