As you may have seen, Consumer Reports recently published a compelling report on satisfaction levels within financial services, stating 93% of credit union members rated themselves as “highly satisfied” using their CU. Contrasted against a rating of only 69% for that big four banks, this data point is truly an amazing achievement. Furthermore, the report indicated that credit unions achieved some of the highest satisfaction ratings ever recorded.
The report deserves a quick read, but to summarize, Lending institutions receive top marks for personalized service, product mixture of low to no fee accounts, higher rate of interest savings products, and lower interest rates on loans and charge cards. Also of interest, the report stated an average CU member pays about $71 in fees annually, versus $183 in a big bank.
All this positive news, yet lending institutions still struggle to acquire new members, and separate themselves from the big banks. Therefore the question remains: How do lending institutions rise above the noise?
This topic is near and dear to our hearts, and a significant challenge for Lending institutions. How does a marketer in a CU provide the message and be sure it rises above the noise from the big banks, which seemingly possess unlimited funds to invest on marketing?
As someone in North America, we’re pummeled with thousands of branded messages each day. This saturation has resulted in an erosion of a consumer’s focus, and more importantly, his and her capability to make an educated purchasing decision. When similar services and products all seem to be advertising the same thing, with little attention dedicated to a product’s true differentiation, how does a consumer make a decision?
We believe one under-utilized tactic open to marketers may be the empowerment of the customer to inform your story and share their experiences with their friends and family.
We strongly think that referrals really are a significant untapped opportunity for credit union marketers, precisely because of the amazingly high satisfaction rates of members. By virtue of what is called the “birds of the feather” principle, existing members at a credit union may have similar values, attitudes, interests and behaviours to their family and friends, and therefore more likely to have similar needs with regards to their services. Thus, dealing with your members to spread the good word regarding their satisfaction with your credit union aligns well using the brand ethos that is a core component of most credit unions today.
While many lending institutions might have implemented some type of a referral enter in yesteryear, we’ve got the technology, automation and reach of contemporary programs have dramatically improved within the last couple of years. A credit union can implement a course ready to go in a low cost, and also have the system manage every aspect of the program, from sending and tracking referrals to distributing rewards.
The key – and frequently missing – bit of a great referral program is consistency. The program should be repeatedly and persistently marketed. This methodology ensures that your members are always advised from the program’s existence, where to find it should they would like to make a referral.
Often our clients initially believe that a referral program should be run as a temporary campaign for a couple of months. While promoting a program regularly is important, our results show that running a referral program for only 60 days dramatically limits the opportunities that members need to share your credit union with their family and friends. Data from our clients proves the longer the tenure of a referral program, the better the program performs overall.
Why is this?
In the case of lending institutions, one must understand that consumers seek banking alternatives at different times within their personal financial journey. Often something triggers the need to search for a new or alternative financial provider: a new job, moving, a significant purchase, etc. Over these times, seeking a lower cost alternative, better rates, or a better experience can all lead a potential new customer.And frequently, the search starts with that potential customer talking to friends or family.
Because of this initial desire to consult close contacts, placing your credit union’s referral program continually in the mind of the members is crucial. Ensuring this program is easily accessible from your online portal, in regular marketing material, as well as in a mobile optimized page out of your website makes it easy for an associate to preserves out their phone and submit a referral when that conversation arises.
Take benefit of these great satisfaction results. Let your members know. Toot your own horn. Or better yet, let your customers toot it for you!