Easy ways to get, and make the most of, member input
Solving unique problems for members and providing them with the best service stems from understanding member needs. Getting input from your members can help you learn more about what they’re trying to accomplish with your financial partnership, uncover gaps in the marketplace and identify areas of your product and service mix that need changing.
There are plenty of ways to collect member insights, from ethnographic studies to research groups to surveys. Methods vary quite a bit in time and cost. When you want quick input or when you’re working with a small niche within your membership, here are some tips on identifying members to contact and making the most of your time with them.
Identifying Contact Groups
When your credit union is interested in updating a product or providing a new service, it can be incredibly beneficial to talk directly to members in an interview or focus group. You’re more likely to create something unique that truly fills an unmet need when you have real conversations.
If you’re not doing it already, maintain lists of members who you can talk to about different types of new or updated products and services. Some core systems make it easy to tag accounts, or you use something as simple as an excel file.
Think about the goals of the credit union and what groups of members you want to be able to contact. Consider both areas of the business that are consistently important, as well as areas that are in consideration for development.
For example, maybe you’re planning on adding small business accounts in the near future. Every time a member asks about business services – on a social platform, with a service rep, or over the phone – ask them if it’s ok to reach out with a survey when it’s in development. You could do the same thing for members who are parents, who are saving for their first home, or who are currently students.
When it’s time to get your insights, you have engaged members you can talk to.
Asking the Right Questions
Before you reach out to members, identify your goals for the interaction so you can stay on track with your questions. Create a summary statement that identifies what you’re trying to accomplish and let that be your guide.
When you start out a project, you may be researching a broad area, like “how can we support parents who want to teach their kids positive money habits?” As you get further in your development, your focus may shift as you’re trying to understand how your proposed solution works in practice. Wherever you are in your research, keep your questions as open as possible so you aren’t leading your participant.
Let’s go back to the example of developing small business accounts. A great place to start would be encouraging your member to walk you through their decision-making process, including how they identify their needs, how they go about researching their options, and how they make a final decision. Some questions you can include are:
- Tell me about how you first discovered you needed a business checking/credit card.
- How do/did you research solutions?
- What information did you find the most helpful?
- What do you like and dislike about current solutions?
- In a perfect world, how would you design a business checking/credit card?
- What does business success look like to you?
- What obstacles are you currently facing?
If you’re working with a small contact group, making phone calls or hosting in-person interviews is very effective because you can get the member’s full story and ask follow up questions. Electronic surveys are also handy and can be posted on your website, on social media, and sent out via email.
Don’t be afraid to show visuals and get input throughout the development process so you can create the best solution. However, do be mindful of the time needed to respond to your questions and give incentives to boost participation.
Watch Interactions to Fill in the Gaps
Surveys and focus groups can be tricky because people are prone to biases. One way you can identify improvements is by watching and listening to member interactions. This works for everything from the flow of a branch, to website navigation, to opening an account.
As a member interacts with your staff, your products and your services, map out the interaction so you can analyze each of the steps individually and the process as a whole. You can also ask members to research something and see what terms they search, which websites they visit and what products they consider.
By observing your members, you may uncover things they wouldn’t have noted in a survey and even things they don’t realize they’re doing. Especially when it’s time to design a user experience, these insights can be invaluable.
Regardless of your budget or the size of your team, there are always ways to collect more insights from your members and use your discoveries to make better decisions. As cooperatives, we should be thinking about the needs of our members. Regularly getting member input will help you create truly unique solutions so you are their first choice for solving their financial needs.