I imagine as we age like fine wine, we gain prospective on many things in life and vocation. I pause to think back to many Decembers and then many consecutive months following those. Like New Year’s Resolutions made by so many how long does it take before they disappear in memory?
In social media and communications it is our goal to communicate! We are endeared for our customer service, or member service to use the credit union appropriate lexicon, however there appears to be a rather wide gap in perception and reality for many consumers. For those of you having served a number of years, “the best kept secret” phase sometimes haunts us. I have asked myself countless times when might that change dramatically and if so who will benefit and who may lose?
A good friend of mine Terri Murphy referred me to a provocative book a few years ago. The content focused on the importance of Relevance with the title, Race to Relevance. The content transcends many of the long held beliefs on business but for the sake of this article I am referring to relevance in the consumer financial services market segment where credit unions add up as a relatively unknown player in an enormous industry. I see infinite opportunities but only if you can master or achieve “perfect” relevance in your Credit Union or CUSO’s business model. This brings to mind a conference speaker I engaged several years ago. Vince Lombardi, Jr. As the son of the legendary coach whose name appears on the coveted NFL Championship Trophy, Lombardi, and Jr. shared a story from his world renowned father. He spoke of a time when Coach Lombardi assumed the reigns of the Green Bay Packers. They were not good back then and the coach delivered a motivating speech to his struggling team. Addressing his football team he said (paraphrased) “we are now on a path to attain perfection. We do realize perfection is impossible however along our journey we will find excellence.” This is etched in my mind since then. I totally agree with the coach and truly believe it serves as a wonderful example to follow for credit unions examining the service standards and competition in today’s consumer financial services marketplace. The primary challenge to achieving excellence reminds me of another quote I often recite “the devil is in the details.” I my opinion it is the details preventing many CUs to stumble or lessen our chances for success.
I forecast 2014 will provide huge opportunities for some who seek and reach their defined excellence goal. We do have many obstacles in our way. We still have the overwhelming burden of millions of consumers still not quite sure who can join a credit union and in fact the services they provide? More importantly there are millions of younger consumers from all ways of life, financial literacy and ethnicities. Millions of prospective relationships ultimately rewarded to those financial institutions best able to deliver quality service and meet their needs. Decisions made every day in every credit union are fundamentally driven supporting our long standing philosophical values and beliefs. It is details such as, hiring the right people and compensating them accordingly, manages effectively at all organizational levels, concise marketing communication to existing and prospective customers and honest and respectful communication with employees. I have contended for many years credit unions need to reach out to the people they want to serve. Once you have a line of communication, be ready with the highest level of quality products and services, with an ease of use for ALL generations and hopefully this is a start to entering the right track. Please remember “practice does not make perfect; perfect practice make perfect.” Let’s face it the competition will be more intense than ever since the stakes are higher than ever.
I challenge every reader to openly discuss these suggestions and how collectively we can make a real difference in the lives of consumers and attaining their financial goals, instead of merely the goals of the credit union’s budget. ACUMA is an organization of “movers and shakers” in the business of Home Finance. I take this very seriously since I still maintain without significant products and services to offer to consumers, excellence or even coming close is impossible. I know many credit unions that get it and seize their opportunities. They are NOT held back by self-created “outdated policies and procedures.” I remember how business was conducted two decades ago having personally transcribed documents into hard bound printed thick volumes of manuals. So now we have reached 2014. Did you happen to see the 60 Minutes broadcast from December 1st. Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO has future plans to deliver batteries, sox and golf balls which I purchase from the online supersite by Drone! Now that is thinking outside the box! George Jetson, where are you? It appears to me the separation between success and failure will be as slim as ever in coming years.
The silver lining to all of this is YOU are largely in control your own destiny. Time teaches us there are few alternatives other than doing all the hard work and the agility to quickly recognize what works and what doesn’t. It’s up to you how you approach relevance and if you can attain it and maintain relevant in the eyes of those you serve! If you can do that, I predict you will survive for many years to come. Happy New Year!