Member experience: The core conversion of credit union culture

While partnering with a West Coast credit union on their member experience program earlier this year, the true enormity of the undertaking settled around the room of executive leadership team, support staff and frontline representatives.

When executed correctly, your member experience workshop fully tells and executes the story of exactly how a credit union wishes its members to experience it. This is a 360°, holistic view that takes into account all points of member/staff interaction. As the reality and excitement of this task settled around the group, we offered the observation that “Yes, implementing a member experience program is the cultural version of an operational core conversion.”

For those of you that have been through a core conversion, you know what a tremendous and all-encompassing task this is. It takes months of dedicated professionals working tirelessly to achieve the task. The same thing applies for a credit union creating and implementing a member experience program. You must approach it from the same angle and understanding. A member experience program, as a natural extension of your brand, is not something to take lightly. It will involve all staff, at all locations, with complete disregard for traditional credit union roles and functions. Forget about back office. Forget about frontline. Forget about executive leadership team. Forget about every single formal title anyone on your organizational chart has. Prepare to lose the comfortable walls of established silos. The most important title for anyone while implementing a member experience program is “brand ambassador” and the program is entirely contingent upon everyone successfully living his or her role every day, with every member and with every fellow employee.

Also similar to a core conversion, creating and living a member experience program is a tremendous investment. Certainly, this investment entails a financial commitment. However, your credit union must also consider its member experience investment in other ways such as time, logistics and, most importantly, credibility. As mentioned earlier, your member experience program is a direct offshoot of the credit union brand. Your brand is a promise you make to members and potential members (what you believe in, whom you best serve, etc.) Your member experience program operationalizes the brand and makes an even deeper promise — how members can expect to be treated, what they can expect to hear, see, taste and touch.

The member experience program, once launched, puts high-performance tires on the engine that is your brand and once the rubber hits the road, you must deliver. That is why credibility is the most important promise your member experience program makes.

If you promise to treat members a certain way, say certain elements of branded language when you interact with them, walk them through a certain set of steps, etc., you must deliver on that promise. Making good on the promise for a few weeks and then letting it fall apart is a recipe for disaster. Money and time are important but credibility represents the word of your credit union. Without it, you have nothing and all the money and time in the world can’t fix it.

All these reasons and more are why progressive credit unions with an eye for growth and vitality increasingly look to brand and member experience programs as key drivers of future performance. But it is not a job to be taken lightly. Again, go back to the core conversion analogy. It’s a big job. Turning the wheel of your credit union in the direction of a member experience program represents the same kind of commitment. Your core conversion likely did not happen overnight (and if it did there’s a real good chance someone sold you core conversion snake oil). Similarly, a member experience program does not happen overnight and will not successfully involve to better serve your members unless it is lived and trained to on a consistent basis.

Yes, a member experience program is a lot of work. But, like a core conversion, when done and done well it is worth the investment. The question is, is your credit union up to the task?

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