5 relationship rules you can apply to your member engagement strategy

Over the last few years, engagement has certainly become a buzzword in the credit union industry. Every touch point (website, call center, in-person, email, online search, social media, etc.) provides an opportunity to engage with your members and deepen the relationship. For the purpose of this article, let’s use the following formula to define engagement:

Relationship + Action = Engagement

When I say engagement I’m not talking about two people in a relationship moving from dating to marriage. Or am I? Are the concepts one in the same? Engaged couples deepen their relationship over time, ultimately creating an organically built family unit. Engaged members have a deeper share of wallet with the credit union, which over time equals bigger profits and organic growth for the organization.

So how can you develop more engaged members? Try applying these 5 relationship rules to your member engagement strategy…

  1. First Date: Get to know the person

Relationship: Break the ice, flirt, romance your date, listen, ask questions, and engage in deep conversation. Don’t be cheap (Avoid McDonald’s), don’t talk about yourself too much and finally, ask for a second date.

Members: Get to know the member (MCIF data/Member Survey/Market Research etc), communicate, first impressions count, don’t be cheap – spend the necessary marketing dollars to win over your new members. Don’t sell, just listen, get to know your member, and follow up (text, call, email).

Tip: First impressions count. People decide how they feel about someone within the first 2 seconds of seeing them; the same goes for financial institutions. Align your engagement strategy with all levels of the organization and all member touch points so that, regardless of how contact is made, the first impression experience is the same.

  1. Dating: Nurture the relationship

Relationship: Text, call, and communicate often. Work on nurturing your budding relationship; tell more of your story (it’s ok to talk about yourself now, but don’t stop listening).

Members: Continuously follow-up and provide valuable content to build trust. Now that you’re getting to know the member, make your communications personal. Avoid selling products/services to members until you know them well enough to match products to their needs.

Tip: If you wouldn’t make reservations at a seafood restaurant before asking your date if he/she likes seafood, then you also shouldn’t sell products to members who may not need or want them. Get to know your member before you make any offers or recommendations.

  1. Engagement: Secure your future

Relationship: You’re confident in your communication style/efforts, comfortable enough to secure the relationship, invite the other person into your life, you know them well enough to move on to the next step and deepen your relationship. Reward them with a shiny new diamond, then celebrate, tell your friends and share on social media!

Member: You’ve established 2-way communication and are both looking to develop the relationship further and deepen the share of wallet. You’ve asked for the sale and they’ve accepted! Time to celebrate (congratulate the member), tell friends (share testimonies), and reward the relationship (member loyalty rewards).

Tip: Patience is a virtue in any relationship. Deepening your member share of wallet isn’t something that happens overnight. There will be times when you ask for the sale and you are turned down. Don’t be discouraged. Keep communicating with your members and the relationship will build.

  1. Marriage: Build on the foundation

Relationship: This is it. You’ve sold yourself to your partner to the extent that he/she is willing to spend the rest of eternity with you. It’s time to take the next step and reap the rewards of a long, happy marriage. It won’t be easy, and it will require lots of work, but it will be worth it, and you’ll gain a new family (in-laws), and friends.

Member: If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you’ve got yourself a loyal member who considers you their primary financial institution (PFI). It’s time to take the next step and upsell, continue to reward, and nurture this long, happy relationship. It won’t be easy, it will require continuous follow up, ongoing communication, and may cost a pretty penny to retain – but don’t worry…it will be worth it when they start referring their friends and family.

Tip: They say that always putting your relationship first is the key to a happy marriage. Putting your loyal members first can be your key to success and profit. Loyal members are easier to sell to and cost less to retain than newer, non-committed members.

  1. Honeymoon and beyond: Focus on your future together

Relationship: Continue to wine and dine your spouse, maintain ongoing communication efforts, and focus on your future together.

Member: Dedicate the time, effort, marketing, and outreach to maintain your PFI status and continue to be the number one resource that your member turns to in time of financial need.

Tip: Preserve the honeymoon phase by rewarding your member over the years, celebrating the little things (birthdays, anniversaries, milestones), maintaining open 2-way communications, and listening to the member’s ongoing needs.

Hilary Reed

Hilary Reed

Hilary Reed, founder of EmpowerFi, is an innovative thought-leader who has been involved in various aspects of strategic sales and marketing for 15 years. Her career began in 2000 when ... Web: www.empowerfi.org Details