Now, don’t get too excited. Yes, we do talk a lot about the importance of member engagement, but I am not to the point of advocating full on-the-mouth kissing for members as soon as they walk in the door. By kissing, we refer to the acronym KISS, or “keep it simple, stupid.”
In this day and age, keeping it simple for your members is critical. Think about how many choices they have out there. They could go to any of your more traditional competitors like other credit unions, they can seek out loans from pawn shops and fast-cash stores. This isn’t even to mention the rapid rise of online-only financial service providers like Simple and Ally. Even McDonald’s is getting into the act, announcing earlier this year an effort to simplify its menu, thus making choices easier and quicker for consumers. If McDonald’s and its 14,000 United States locations are taking notice of this simplification trend, your credit union probably should, as well.
Using the McDonald’s litmus test, there are three important points to this KISS principle. We will examine each and how they can apply directly to your credit union’s efforts. Whether we like it or not, credit unions are in the commodity business, providing products and services to consumers, just like fast food restaurants.
- Operational experience. For fast food restaurants, this means what it is like for staff behind the counter to prepare and present food. For your credit union, this refers to the back-office experience of the products and services you bring to your members. What is it like for your staff to run the various support mechanisms that make your products and services work? Is it easy to do? Do you have way too many checking account options? And what about your marketing materials — are they verbose and confusing? Where can you make things simpler for your members?
- Member response. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, they ranked dead last in customer response and satisfaction, according to a survey last year from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Where do you think your credit union ranks? While there are a variety of ways to gauge member satisfaction, perhaps the best is face-to-face. Are you asking your members if things are simple for them in your credit union? Are you asking if there are things you can do (or stop doing) that would make it easier and quicker for them to use you as their primary financial institution?
- Price points. For fast food restaurants, this is simple. We’re talking about the price of a hamburger and fries. For credit unions, it’s a little more complex. What is your fee structure like? Are you dinging your members to death with dreaded fees? Have you priced your checking account offerings out of the range of most consumers? And what about time of service? How long does it take you to sign up a new member, get a car through the drive-through or turn around a decision on a loan? All these things matter, especially when it comes to helping keep things simple for your members.
Of course, our credit unions are not fast food restaurants and not every comparison is a direct correlation. However, as providers of a product and service (financial) for consumers, credit unions can learn a lot about how to keep things simple for their members from the efforts of other retailers.
Are you kissing your members today, or just making things more needlessly complicated?