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Improving Performance via Research Tools
Wednesday, April 6, 2016 6:20 AM

By David England, Senior Research Analyst, Cornerstone Credit Union League

Think of research as a way to engage your members with a specific purpose, rigor, and an intention to improve things. When done well, research helps you better serve them and increases their loyalty to your credit union. 

Given the level of competition you face, it's important to understand the options members and potential members are actually considering and determine how you can win the battles for their car loans, checking accounts, etc. This requires that you understand their decision-making issues—from their perspectives, not yours. You have to know their decision processes well and use that knowledge to develop the best products and services (and prices, locations/platforms, and promotions).

This is not easy to do. As mentioned up front, it requires rigor (purpose-driven methods) with an intention to win. Unfortunately, an "overall satisfaction" metric cannot deliver these specific insights. Fortunately, there is much excitement about tools that allow you to break down these decisions, get a read on where you rank in your members’ consideration sets, and determine how to rise to the top of the list. 

Rightfully so, there is discussion about the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the Wallet Allocation Rule (WAR), and the Member Effort Score (MES). The NPS is well documented as a tool that helps credit unions improve loyalty and bottom lines. WAR and MES are newer tools. They will prove to help credit unions serve their members better and improve their own financial performances.

WAR (also called Share of Wallet) is a tool that helps you improve your performance in a specific product/service (e.g., personal loans). This methodology is particularly potent because it incorporates the competition—you're learning about your strengths and weaknesses as well as theirs. Most importantly, the decision process is clarified, and you can change your operation accordingly with a realistic view of the likely outcome.

The Member Effort Score (MES) is well suited for improving your services, policies, procedures, etc. You will improve your loyalty score (and service satisfaction) by helping your members solve their problems quickly and easily. Talk to members and staff and remove obstacles (e.g., a member that has to call back multiple times or has to call customer service after several attempts to solve a problem online). With enough rigor and curiosity, you might learn not only to solve that particular problem, but you might get a bonus: learn how to head off additional problems.

The research pays off. Some credit unions that grew tired of member defections, tepid internal growth, and anemic increases in new members applied more purpose and rigor. As a result, they are now watching their bottom lines grow significantly. Now, that’s improving things.