CU’s and WiFi

I’ve heard some whispers that the credit union industry might be uniquely positioned to provide WiFi service to areas surrounding their branches. While this proposition could pose security risks, additional cost during a margin-shrinking period, and operational problems (think about people hanging out in the lobby all the time), it is also ripe with opportunity.

Currently our branching structure isn’t exactly setup to house people just sitting around in our branches, but it does provide a unique opportunity to offer our services to anyone using the WiFi and it can drive foot traffic. Marketing materials could encourage people to come to the branch and try out the new kiosks, check out the CU website, use online banking to pay their bills, balance their check book in the car, or give them something to do during their hopefully short wait time.

Additionally, the added bandwidth (assuming you didn’t want to share a branch’s main line) could be used in a fail over situation. We, for example, have direct T-1’s to all of our branches. But if one of those connections went down, we could simply direct traffic to our fail over.

Lots of possibilities, so it will be interesting to see if anyone can implement something like this.

Think big

One of the problems I see credit unions having is not having a larger-than-life vision. Many companies have BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) but they probably are little things like ROA at 1.5% or checking penetration of 70% or the most branches in their community charter.

As big as some of those BHAG’s are, they aren’t big enough. Just because most credit unions are smaller in size in both assets and employees, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think like a big.

It’s the franchise mentality. Starting from cashing a check to locking the front door, every process in a branch should be identical everywhere you go. Every teller sign and banner in a branch should be the same. Every Starbucks triple-latte tastes the same no matter if you are in Kalamazoo or Denver. Because credit unions normally can’t expand outside of a state boundary, we never think of having 100 branches. But when you have 100 branches, or 1000, you have to have processes and brand awareness that is unanimous everywhere.

Ask yourself, what would we do if we had to roll this process or new marketing material out at 101 branches? And your answer should be applied to all 4 of yours.

CU Websites…

So we’re going through a re-design of our website. And I’m seeing more and more of the so-called “generational gap”. I never thought that I’d see it first in personal differences in web design, but sure enough, here it is.

I’m what a recent Fast Company article would call a “millennial”, while most of our marketing department thinks like Generation D when it comes to web design. Our IS team is actually writing the site, with direction from marketing. The IS guys know what’s going on. Sites like bellco.org and celumimagine.com/en.htm are some wonderful examples of up-to-date web design. In my experience there are a few CU’s coming around and accepting the Web 2.0, but most credit unions are stuck in the Web 0.1.

Even though we’re coming up with some fairly good web design elements, the old guard of our credit union is hindering us. Its the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. If credit unions do not begin to dust of their brands and lose “my grandparents belonged to this credit union” feel, they will begin losing, rather not attracting, the members that will see them through the future.

Employee Opinion Surveys

Well our first employee opinion survey was recently completed at our credit union. Not surprisingly, “Pay” was the lowest rating we received in all 13 or 14 categories. Coming from a retail background myself, I find the CU pay is, naturally, higher than other retail pay, but lower then most banks in our general market. When I look at the overall market and compare the harsh selling stress in a retail banking environment, I see many people making a transition to the “movement”.

More interesting findings in our survey show that nearly all of our employees love their jobs, the reputation of the CU in the community, and their direct manager.

Some of the lowest ratings were pay and health benefits (spouse/dependent care).

It will be interesting to see if the changes we’ve made to the compensation structure will alter employee opinion on pay. I hear upper management say “they don’t know what other CU’s are paying” and our front-line staff saying “Bill left and went to Community Credit Union for $14 an hour.” Hopefully our adjustments will bring the two disparate views closer together.

First post

Well this is the inaugural post for this blog and my blogging experience. I intend to discuss many of the current issues facing the credit union industry that I feel are vitally important to the future success of our industry.

opensourcecu.com got me started in blogging for the credit union industry and inspired me to delve out onto my own, so I must give credit to to Trey and the folks over at OpenSource for their outstanding work in discussing a variety of important issues.

So until I can convince my credit union to put a blog on our website, feel free to visit mine.