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Marketing Executive Shares Insight on Earning Member Loyalty
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 6:50 AM

With so many choices, standing out in the crowd isn’t easy, and earning member loyalty takes more than just offering a good product and/or service. Lorraine Howard, vice president of marketing with Diamond Lakes FCU in Hot Springs, Ark., shares her thoughts on the issue with Leaguer readers in the following Q&A.

What is your credit union’s field of membership? 

Howard: Diamond Lakes serves a six-county rural district in Arkansas:  Garland, Hot Spring, Grant, Clark, Pike and Montgomery counties, plus the gated community of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. 

With more credit unions expanding their FOM from SEG-based to community charter, what challenges do you think this poses in building member loyalty? 

Howard: We have had our community charter since 2005.  But we have always walked the walk and talked the talk of a SEG credit union.  We have a full time business development coordinator that maintains contact with our SEGs through site visits, on-site enrollment events, monthly mailings (posters for their employee bulletin boards) and participation at health and benefits fairs. Having the payroll deduction connection is still a very important part of our member loyalty program. By conducting business development within our community, we are always present in the workplace. 

What is your definition of member loyalty? 

Howard: At Diamond Lakes, a loyal member has a checking account, auto loan, credit card and, in many circumstances, a home loan with us. 

How important is it to understand the needs, desires and motivations of your membership in order to build member loyalty? 

Howard: Understanding your member demographics is imperative.  The needs of a baby boomer are different than that of Generation Y.  We have the mobile services in place to serve busy members of all ages.  So having the products and services in place and fitting those to unique member needs is key to building loyalty. 

What tips/strategies can you recommend to transition checking account holders or an indirect loan borrower into a loyal member? 

Howard: Front line staff participation is essential to transitioning single-service members into loyal members. We just recently set up cross sell plans using our host computer system, Portico, to assist front line staff with identifying services tailored to that member’s needs.  Short scripts that open up conversation on our auto loans, credit cards and home loans will educate members and capture their interest in services that could save them a lot of money. 

What are three things that a credit union could do that would cause a loyal member to take their business elsewhere? 

Howard: At Diamond Lakes, we believe that member retention is tied to providing kind, consistent and perceptive member service.  Our culture of kindness is a top-down initiative that includes being kind to fellow employees and kind and respectful to members. In short, we treat people right.  We also feel that consistent, procedure-driven service means a lot.  A visit or call to any of our four branches will result in the same level of service and consistency of procedure. We also expect our employees to consider what services make sense for that member – their age and family needs.

Does your credit union offer a loyalty program, and if so, can you explain how this loyalty program works? 

Howard: Officially, Diamond Lakes is not offering a rewards-based loyalty program right now. It’s something we are looking at for the future. Since we just implemented the cross sell feature of Portico, we are looking at setting up a rewards program possibly in 2015. We like to phase in services that change/refine our culture in an organized way.