Finding A 'Friend' In The World of Social Media

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ELMHURST, Ill. - The economic downturn hasn't changed some fundamentals.

"One thing that hasn't changed despite the economic downturn is the need to make a personal connection with each member who comes through the door," said Julia Goebel, vice president of marketing for Ambir Technology. "Now more than ever, when there are perhaps difficulties in obtaining loans, customers have options. There are new, online options like Ally and Bankrate.com that give consumers choices. So when they come into their local branch, you need to be able to make a personal connection with each member," typically starting at the teller location or loan stations.

While many view technology as decreasing financial institutions' opportunities to interact with their members, Goebel said that the speed behind new technologies often shaves a minute or two off of the transaction time "where the teller can make that face-to-face connection, make some small talk and ask about additional services the member needs. ... It's about using that extra few seconds or extra few minutes to identify opportunities to cross-sell services."

Goebel also highlighted the potential that social media hold for credit unions, noting that while some CUs see sites like Facebook and Twitter as staff time-wasters and security risks, the sites serve as an opportunity not only to promote things like loan services, but to engage people - in particular young people.

Goebel conceded that a Facebook user probably won't "like" a credit union they're not already a member of, but noted that "you can see what other people are doing, and if you see that your relative, neighbor or friend has "liked" something, you may be more interested to learn about it."

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