As someone who has participated in multiple fitness programs over the years, there is one that stands out among the pack…Crossfit. To be crystal clear, I do not do Crossfit. At 47 years of age, I have come to accept that my knees just won’t do what they used to. I recently came across a quarter on the sidewalk and did a risk analysis to decide whether to bend, stoop, or just kick it to higher ground. I am, however, fascinated with the fervor that surrounds Crossfit. These athletes do traditional exercises such as pullups, clean and jerks, and squats, but they’ve taken it to a new level. They have their own vocabulary such as WOD, AMRAP, and EMOM and have created an entire sport around it. They are hooked and are ambassadors of the lifestyle. To these athletes, Crossfit is more than a workout, it’s a tribe. Tribes support each other and offer inclusion, caring, and guidance. I get it. If only my knees would cooperate.
I believe that credit unions have the opportunity to build tribes as well. Not just among the employees, but in the member community. Seth Godin says that “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” This describes credit unions. Your members are connected to one another through virtue of membership. Whether through community credit unions, faith based, educational, military, government or industry. Every credit union I’ve spoken to, thus far, tends to have a strong leader that the employees adore and they serve a common idea which is to provide member service that traditional banks can’t or won’t.
The biggest fear that I hear from credit union execs is the impact that Artificial Intelligence will have on the financial services industry. While AI certainly serves a purpose, it is not a tribe builder. AI cannot look a person in the eye. AI cannot communicate empathy for real world challenges and most importantly, AI cannot make a member feel connected, special, and supported.
As you continue to build your credit union tribe, understand that growing it will be done through your ambassadors and how they tell the credit union story. This story has nothing to do with interest rates or financial products you offer, but the impact that your credit union has on the lives of your members.