Could an all-day breakfast help improve your credit union?

There’s a terrific scene from the 1993 thriller Falling Down in which the character played by Michael Douglas, already stressed from a world-class bad day, goes ballistic in a fast food restaurant when he is denied breakfast. Apparently, they switched over to the lunch menu a couple of minutes before and were simply not going to accommodate his wish. As you can see from this clip, the result is an extraordinarily unhappy customer.

A couple of months ago, McDonald’s, fresh from another re-branding effort, announced it was going to offer an all-day breakfast menu for the first time in company history. The results so far are stellar for the fast food giant. Same-store sales are up dramatically this quarter and the competition is jumping hoops to catch up with them.

All this, you might ask, from finally offering something for which consumers had clamored for years? Apparently, yes.

There is a simple yet compelling application for credit unions in this McDonald’s example. What is the one simple thing you could do (or stop doing) for your members that would thrill and engage them?

If you can find it, statistics are firmly on your side. According to this recent Gallup article, when consumers strongly agree that their financial institution looks out for their financial well-being, 84% are fully engaged and none are actively disengaged. And when financial institutions take the time to address consumer’s financial well-being, they strongly increase consumer confidence in their primary financial institution.

For example, would it make their day if you were to open the drive-through a half hour earlier or keep it open a half hour later? Could you deepen ties and improve your chances of greater future wallet share by offering financial education seminars? Should you get more involved in the community and have higher visibility working with groups and causes that matter to members? Is there anything you could do to speed-up services and decrease wait times? Or is it possible that you could develop a killer idea by simply quizzing them?

Alternatively, is there something you should stop doing that would enamor members of your credit union? Are your twelve different checking account options (that seemed so terrific when marketing developed them) really helping members, or just confusing them? Should you make that big a deal out of your annual meeting when fewer people come every year (and those that do are pretty much there for the free meal and giveaways)? Is it time to do away with products and services your members simply no longer use, such as the telephone account access system or travelers checks? Or, again, can you learn this magical thing only from actually talking to your members?

Regardless of the one thing you could do (or stop doing) that would serve as the credit union equivalent of an “all-day breakfast menu,” the McDonald’s lesson is clear. More than likely, there is that one thing out there that members talk about or ask for on a regular basis and, for whatever reason, the credit union cannot (or refuses to) accommodate. And it is important for credit union professionals to focus on what the member wants – not what we (executive management, board, staff) want. Working inside credit unions, we are vulnerable to developing a “silo mentality” where we think more in terms of day-to-day operations and activities and less about the actual thoughts and needs of our members. Even twenty years ago, the typical financial institution business model was developed from the inside-out, in which members pretty much got what their credit union served-up. Now, with the advent of easy Internet access and potentially loud social media voices, consumers are increasingly in charge of the marketplace.

Obviously, we cannot give away the farm (or breakfast). However, there is always something we can do to improve. And, generally, it is that one thing that’s always been there, much like an all-day breakfast menu.

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: Details