To sum up the THINK 12 Conference, five common themes emerged from the Baton Raton event:
Culture is the sum of beliefs and values that shape norms of behavior and dictate the ways things get done. There are several continuums that help define an organization’s culture. Is your credit union driven by results and achievements, or relationships and people? Does your organization have an external focus , or an internal focus? Is your credit union adaptive and flexible, or is it structured and stable.
Culture tells you a lot about an organization. Culture determines the true self of your credit union. Is your outward communication aligned with your culture? If not, how can you change that?
It’s not the products and services that matter to people; it’s the emotional connection to brand. You can’t build trust through advertising, you have to build it through the consumer experience. Customers want to communicate with a brand on their terms, through their preferred channels. The community aspect of credit unions is appealing to your members and prospects. The more you create a sense of community, the more people will be attracted to your products and services. Humans are connections, give them what they desire.
Change is hard and it can be expensive. Still, the cost of not changing might be more expensive and, ultimately, ruin your business. Average in-branch transactions per month across the United States will plummet 56 percent between 2006 and 2015. In three years, 50 percent of your members will use the smartphone as a primary device for their banking. In just a few years, the majority of your members have changed their behavior; credit unions still base their business model on old behavior. Behavior is at the core of the future of credit unions: Banking is no longer a space where you go, it’s a thing you do.
Every financial institution sells comparable products. Trader Joe’s sells groceries just like other stores. Their biggest difference is how they do it: Integrity of design, employees are “crew members”, hiring the right people that have a passion for the brand experience. Credit Unions should consider hiring outsiders with fresh, diverse ideas, people that consider creativity a team sport. Focus on people with the ability to connect, not how fast they can complete a task. Hire frontline staff that can deliver delight and joy.
Let’s face it: Credit unions will never be able to compete with the massive marketing budgets of the Wall Street giants. That can be a good thing. We shouldn’t try to compete with banks, we have to communicate the other solution: Think small. Consumers are fed up with financial institutions that are too big to fail; they desire community banks that are big enough to care about their money. Being small is a strength that credit unions should call out of more often and be proud of.