How many of you watched the ball drop on December 31st 2019, and turned to someone and said “2020 is going to be the best year yet?”…HAHAHAHA.
Until March of 2020, my living was made standing in front of a crowd. Whether it was a theater full of people who came to laugh, or a Columbus Day gathering of credit union professionals seeking to sharpen their member engagement skills. March 2020 arrived and Boom! Well, you know the rest of the story. This is not another article showing how to “pandemic proof” your credit union, or how to pivot in the face of adversity, but rather reveal a skill that successful people use to engage others meaningfully.
When I realized that I would not be back on a stage any time soon, I sought new ways to make a living. After a couple of months, I was approached by my college roommate who asked me to join him and his partner in developing an exciting new product, an organic herbicide. I knew nothing about herbicides and my only success in chemistry was knowing not to drink beer after liquor, but since I wasn’t doing much anyway, I jumped on board with both feet. Over the next couple of months, I became an expert in EPA compliance, state registrations, and the importance of proper product labeling. I toured peach tree and produce farms, landscaping companies, and met with major box stores. We met with lawyers and consultants, and I took all of my entrepreneurial energy and poured it into developing and bringing to market this product that could actually stand toe to toe with synthetic weed killers. First, however, we had to become legally compliant to sell in all the states. I sought EPA registration consultants who could facilitate the process, and what I discovered is they ALL do the same thing. I decided on one consultant and set up a Zoom call so my partners could meet him. It did not go well. He was a bit arrogant and told us all about what he would do and has done, but not once did he ask us about our product. This a product that our chemist has developed over six years of painstaking labor and we have invested our time and resources in. Needless to say, we are proud of it. All the consultant cared about was getting paid before he shared his knowledge. I thanked him for his time and cut the call short. We ended up going with a firm with which we had a great rapport and they seemed to be as excited about working with us as we were with them.
Do you view your member experiences as transactional, or as a moment within a relationship? Because of his failure to ask the right questions, the original consultant failed to learn that, not only are we ready to roll on this product, but we have 6 more products in the pipeline that would have paid him well over six figures in fees. My buddy Jeffrey Gitomer says “If all things are equal, people want to do business with their friends. If all things are not so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.”
What are you doing to make friends with your members?. Let’s be honest, your credit union performs similar, if not identical, functions as other financial institutions. The reason that your members chose yours is because of the quality of engagement by your employees. When you ask relevant, insightful, and meaningful questions about what is important in the lives and businesses of your members, you establish liking and trust and are able to serve as a resource.