If your Thanksgiving was anything like mine, it was smaller, a bit less exciting, and simply felt a little “weird.” However, it also lent itself to being a bit more intimate and – dare I say – meaningful. Rather than sitting around bloated after eating more than my fair share of a giant feast, chatting with relatives I rarely see, and playing with children who will soon be taller than I am, I had some time to sit on the couch, stroke my favorite canine, and just think. Think about all the things I’m thankful for, and should be thankful for all year. Think about the things I take for granted, and shouldn’t.
Being the credit union geek that I am, my mind wandered to credit unions, and specifically credit union members. I thought about the hustle and bustle of my beloved career – credit union marketing. My life is filled with conversations about “audiences” and “ROI,” copywriting, design, ad placement, etc… and as much as I try to keep top-of-mind that these conversations revolve around real people, those few moments I spent pondering my thankfulness made me realize I’ve lost sight a bit. Maybe you have too, so please bear with me as I gush over credit union members just a bit.
Credit union members are loyal. Wow, are they ever! Credit union members who really understand what a credit union is and why credit unions exist are some of the most loyal people on the planet. They’ll accept a slightly higher loan rate or a slightly lower dividend rate if it means doing business with their member-owned financial cooperative. They’ll even put up with some less-than-modern technology and payment systems (to a degree). However, it’s up to us to “nourish” them with the unique philosophy and structure of credit unions if we want them to be loyal. We can’t expect them to seek this education on their own, or even care much about it unless we ignite that passion in them.
Credit union members are happy to see us. While this is not true of all members, every credit union I work with has a core group of members who stop in…often. In non-COVID times, they love talking with the staff, grabbing coffee and cookies and socializing with each other. Visiting the credit union is an “event” in their day, and the credit union employees are more than “service providers” – the members consider them part of their circle. Let’s not forget that these members are the reason we all have a job. Without them, there would be no credit union. So, while you may have more tasks on your to-do list than can possibly be accomplished in one day, take a few minutes to show your appreciation and thanks to these members. You never know – it may be a highlight of their day.
Credit union members will fight for us. Have you ever participated in a credit union advocacy event, or setup a booth next to a banker at a select employee group’s benefit fair? If not, I highly recommend both. If a credit union member hears someone slander their credit union, or even suggest their credit union is inferior to another financial institution, they are deeply offended. When I’m a witness to such an event, as a credit union representative my best course of action is to stand back and say absolutely nothing. A well thought-out, expertly crafted rebuttal from me cannot possibly compare to an authentic, mother-lion type of response from a member. It fills my heart with pride every single time!
Credit union members are forgiving. The majority of credit union employees I work with are absolutely crushed and bewildered when they make a mistake that causes a member problems, or when leadership makes a decision about operations or fees that unknowingly creates havoc and stress for the membership. Credit union employees are overwhelmingly bad at giving themselves grace. However, when credit unions admit their mistakes without revocation, and do what needs to be done to rectify the problem, credit union members are typically very responsive and forgiving. Members don’t expect credit union employees to be perfect, but members do expect credit unions to make things right. After all, they own the place!