The ABC's of Pleasing Members Are 'ETDBW'

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It's not interest rates that drive your members elsewhere for car loans or mortgages. Instead, it's the difficulty-or sometimes perceived difficulty-members experience when they work with you, according to two CUNA Mutual Group lending experts.

The easier it is for members to transact business, the more likely they will come to their credit union for products and services, then remain loyal for a lifetime, consumer lending experts Chuck Stephens and Gloria Green said Friday at CUNA Mutual's eighth annual Discovery Conference.

"When members find it overwhelmingly complicated, time-consuming and/or inconvenient, to do business with their credit union, they'll take an easier way out," said Stephens, vice president of consumer lending at CUNA Mutual. "Unfortunately, that too often means they'll grab the dealer's zero percent while they're in the showroom, and not bother to look into what's very likely a better deal at their credit union."

ETDBW, or "Easy to Do Business With," needs to be a credit union's ultimate goal, Stephens and Green said during their session. It means providing member service at any time, using the member's choice of delivery channel.

"It's relatively painless to discover how to be ETDBW," Stephens said. "First, understand what your members want. To discover this, ask them. At the same time, ask them what's irritating about your services. What process improvements would be most helpful to them? How can you make their lives better? Their transactions easier? Then, build your member-friendly processes. Leverage your employees to use them in the most effective, member-serving manner, not filling out forms or tasks that should be automated. Use technology to do some of the work."

Stephens and Green, LOANLINER products marketer at CUNA Mutual, offer several ideas to make it easier for members to borrow:

* Grant loan approvals quickly. Use your information systems to automatically plug in address, employment, salary and other data.

* Have a 24/7 lending operation (yours, or else contract with a well-established and experienced call center) so members shopping on weekends or working evenings can be served at their convenience. Ensure your call center has member information readily at hand and can quickly make a loan decision.

* Ensure the webiste easily and quickly provides information members need, payment calculators for the loan and protection options, and instant decisioning or a link to track the approval process.

And, when it comes to process improvements, Stephens and Green said to make sure:

* Your technology shares information, not only to streamline transactions and eliminate repetitive actions, but also to free staff from routine roles so they can better concentrate on serving members.

* You're using the same or better tools than your competitors.

* You review your processes to see if they add value to your members, changing those that add cost to you or to your member relationships.

* You identify and strengthen the processes at which you excel, and outsource the rest.

"You can become easier to do business with by first making sure your technologies, processes, organization, and your lending systems are all in sync," Green said. "Knock down the walls so your members are on the inside of your organization. Make all of their dealings with you delightful, setting yourself far apart from the competition."

"Ultimately, make sure your members know that you care about them," Stephens added.

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