The best advertising is done by satisfied customers

Word-of-mouth referrals are the best marketing tool.

My dad wasn’t exactly all that handy in the area of home projects when I was younger. In his defense, though, he had no internet, YouTube, or Google to lean on back then. So, when he started a home project, there was a high degree of probability that he’d need help to finish the job at some point in the process. He also knew my fiery-tempered mother would never let him hear the end of it if he failed to complete the task. Moms are good like that.

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Since dad didn’t have things like Google reviews or Angi (Angie’s List) to glean information from, he relied heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from neighbors, friends, or family with a positive experience. After all, there was, usually, concrete proof of a neighbor’s testimony evident right across the street.

To this day, my dad still prefers hiring professionals based on word-of-mouth referrals even when the price is higher because he places a premium value on high-quality work.

Word-of-mouth referrals help credit unions.

Referrals from someone who knows your member are the best source of advertising for your credit union. They can be more potent than any other form of advertising, because people inherently trust referrals from friends and family more than reviews they read online. So, the better your member’s experience is, the more likely they’ll share it.

According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust word-of-mouth and referrals from people they know. This data suggests that when someone sees a friend or family member raving about a particular brand, they’re much more likely to buy.

How do you create good Word-of-Mouth referrals?

Whether it’s online or in your branches, there are numerous ways to build a Word-of-Mouth referral engine for your credit union that’ll get people talking about your products and services. Below we’ve listed some great ways to get the buzz going.

  • Be honest and authentic in customer communication – One way to build positive referrals from current and potential members is to be straightforward about conducting your business. When you’re transparent about what they can expect from your support, pricing, and products, their confidence level improves dramatically.
  • Improve your in-branch customer experience – It seems so obvious. But, when you cultivate a branch environment where the staff is friendly and helpful, members feel comfortable referring friends and family to do business there. Making the interior design warm and inviting also helps them feel at home and likely to return.
  • Be overly helpful to members and non-members – When your credit union provides the information and resources members and non-members need to succeed, it positions your company in the role of helpful guide. If you listen and help members solve their financial challenges, you’ll gain their trust, and they’ll rave about you to their friends.
  • Support your community – It pays to be a good citizen. Be involved and stay connected to the community. People remember and will talk about how your credit union was there to support local non-profits and charities. It not only improves your company’s perception, but it speaks to the character of how your credit union helps people. People feel good about referring family and friends to companies that support the community where they live.

The rest of the story

One of my dad’s most crucial word-of-mouth referrals came in the early 1980s. Our family was pretty poor, so when my dad got a new job working for the airlines, it dramatically improved the family income situation. The one snafu was that for 12 months, he had to commute from Indianapolis to Chicago for training and was going to need a better car to do it. Sadly, none of the local banks at the time could offer a simple auto loan. So, on a referral, my dad decided to try the airline’s credit union.

I went with my dad to get that loan in the credit union’s local branch, and I still remember the experience of going in with him. The loan officer was friendly and very generous with the candy lollipops. As a kid, they had me at lollipops. I liked them whether we got the loan or not. In the end, though, the credit union provided an auto loan, and they eventually became dad’s primary financial institution.

Fast forward ten years or so, and I needed a car for college. I was ready to do my own commuting. And, I bet you can guess where I got my first car loan.

As a kid, I remembered all the times my dad talked up his credit union and referred them to co-workers and friends, and it’s the reason today I handle all my finances through credit unions.

Psst… we’ve got a referral for you.

At iDiz, we solve a variety of problems for credit union marketers every day. We experiment and endlessly research to find the solution that best fits our credit union clients’ needs. 

As a by-product of our efforts, we’ve curated a helpful resource page on our website called the Resources and Recommendations page. It’s filled with top-notch vendors, online calculators, free photo editors, and other powerful online resources that credit unions need for their website to succeed. Check it out and feel confident that these sources will save you time and money through their usefulness.

Jon Cooper

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