The business value of personal connection

May 23, 2014

Who are you striving to be?

10275516_705648832830172_5588543601566778944_oThanks to this photo of Roy Bergengren recently shared by credit union advocate Matthew Cropp of Vermont, I realize that we now have fewer credit unions in the U.S. than at any time prior to NINETEEN THIRTY-NINE. Think about that for a minute…. what does that mean? Now some would explain that away saying that overall membership in the U.S. is at an all time high. So let’s put those two equations together: more people, but fewer institutions. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Just a thing?

What would Ed Filene and Roy Bergengren think? That after the past 75 years of credit union advocacy, we now have fewer credit unions serving all of America? Are the products better than before? Is the service worse than before? Is the differentiation between credit unions and banks better or worse than 75 years ago? Do we still have a need for credit unions, or has the reason they were founded pretty much gone away? Is there more opportunity than ever before for smaller CUs to succeed? Or is it just too challenging, and every CU below $10m in assets should just get merged into a larger one until there are none in this size range anymore? Do you need to offer every financial product and service that your competitors do in order to succeed? Or does that pursuit just drain time and money resources away from your CU’s core mission?

What is the mission and purpose of your credit union? Who are you trying to be? Who are you serving? What is your connection like with the members you serve? Tight? Barely there?

One of the reasons I bring up this topic is that it seems to me that more and more credit unions are basically operating as tax-exempt banks; attempting to grow no matter what, and becoming more generic in appearance and attitude (and losing connection with the group that founded them). To operate this way may serve the needs of the institution (although it may actually not), but in any case seems a disservice to the membership, and perhaps just as importantly, a disservice to the CU movement as a whole. If a credit union is going to operate like a bank, it should just acknowledge that fact and change charters and switch to being regulated and insured the FDIC instead of NCUA. That tax-exempt thing is not really that a great a business advantage anyway.

But the other surprising thing about credit unions operating like banks (aside from failing to live up to its mission statement) is that in many cases, the trend is away from generic large institutions and stores, and TOWARDS unique, local, and independent organizations. So-called “big box” stores are on the decline; while one-of-a-kind shops find their niche. Many people avoid chain restaurants in favor of unique eateries.

But being different, in and of itself, is not a sustainable business model. To increase success in business, you need to provide something different for which there exists a customer base. One way to approach this differentiation is to employ technology to make it easier for your customers to do business with you, whether that be in facilitating the process of ordering products and services, the delivery of those products and services, or help in using those products and services. From our own point of view; we’ve found that every time we make our own technology easier to use, more streamlined, and more personalized, it pays dividends immediately.

How are you using technology to differentiate and personalize your credit union? Are you using technology to strengthen the connection between your employees and your members, or is it weakening that connection? Who are you serving, and how are you making their experience with you easier and better? If providing “better, more personal service” is the differentiation point of your credit union (as many state), is your technology living up to that promise? What are your thoughts?

The Launch of Loan Switch

September 12, 2013

EverythingCU.com’s new product, Loan Switch, is finally here!

Loan Switch is a brand new online product that enables your current members to refinance all of their loans that they have with other financial institutions, with you; all at the same time.

There has never before been a product like this, and it is only available to credit unions.

If your CU has the ability to compete on loan rates, promote a loyalty program or has a great loan department ready to re-capture loans; Loan Switch is for you.

• Loan Switch arms your member with the information they need in order to WANT to refinance with your CU
• Makes it ONE CLICK for your members to start the refi with your CU!

We can’t wait for you to demo Loan Switch because we are incredibly excited about its ability to simultaneously save your members money AND bring loans into your CU! The best way to understand why we think Loan Switch is a breakthrough in capturing loans that members have at other institutions is to just demo it yourself so that you can see exactly how it works. Click here to demo Loan Switch now!

Click here to view more information about Loan Switch, including pricing.

Email Matt with any questions or for further information about Loan Switch: matt@everythingcu.com

After you’ve to submit your loan info in the demo, Matt will play loan officer and send you a response. When you receive the response email, be sure to log in to your personal checklist with the username and password supplied. Then you’ll see how easy it is for the member to start the refi with just a mouse click. Once you’ve had a chance to demo it, let us know what you think!

eSwitchKit enhancements

June 13, 2013

Here is the latest on the new developments we’ve added to the eSwitchKit. We didn’t sit on our haunches after the launch; we’ve already made some improvements.

One of the most important portions of the new eSwitchKit is the real-time status checklist that’s created for the member to use throughout the switching process. A major upgrade we’ve just implemented is the ability for the member to re-send switch emails and/or to print switch letters at any time, via their personalized online switching checklist.

For member convenience, we’ve also added an “Already fill a switch kit out?” login area on the first page of the eSwitchKit. Just in case they’ve lost their email with the login link, or can’t access their email, they can still log in and view their checklist to see the status of their switches. We’ve also implemented a password retrieval system in case they don’t have that info handy.

If you are demo’ing the eSwitchKit, then in order to experience the eSwitchKit’s full capability, be sure to input your email address as well as create a username and password. After doing so, you’ll feel the same hand-holding experience your members will be receiving. You’ll get a copy of all of the secure emails, along with the most important email; the email guiding the member to their secure and personalized eSwitchKit checklist. If you’re interested in the eSwitchKit’s full capability, be sure to complete this step. There isn’t another switch kit in the country like it.

Why is the personalized eSwitchKit checklist important?

  1. In one convenient spot for the member, they have a record of every company that has been informed of the switch, and can check it at any time to see the real-time status of each company that has, or has not, replied to the notification.
  2. The secure emails sent to companies have specialized replies pre-written within the email that use radio button technology. The vendor selects an answer and that answer is instantly updated on the checklist.
  3. The member can stay in the know at all times concerning their account switches and they can re-send and re-print the switch emails and letters any time they need to.
  4. The receiving company can send notes back to the members via the secure emails and the notes will appear in real-time on the checklist.

Click here to demo the eSwitchKit.

We are also extremely pleased to announce that already six credit unions have signed on to the eSwitchKit in less than three weeks. Welcome aboard Pam Griffiths and the Railroad & Industrial FCU team as well as Malinda Warchus and the Electric Service CU team.

Announcing the innovative new eSwitchKit!

May 22, 2013

EverythingCU.com is thrilled to announce an innovative new breakthrough in making it easy for your new members to switch their previous accounts over to your CU! Our new eSwitchKit makes switching incredibly easy via secure email and organized with a personalized online checklist that both your member and your credit union can monitor for real-time status updates.

Making the switch to your credit union has never been easier with our new eSwitchKit!

See for yourself how easy and convenient it is by trying out the Demo!

The eSwitchKit makes it easy for your member (or your MSRs to help your members) switch their previous accounts over to your credit union. The member’s information only needs to be entered one time, and the correct information is then sent to each vendor involved in the process, including Employer for Direct Deposit, previous Financial Institution for close account instructions, and for every ACH/Automatic Payment vendor as well as any vendors making automatic withdrawals via Debit Card.

The member is in control every step of the way, being able to decide which of these organizations are to receive account numbers, which organizations are to receive secure email communications, and which organizations are to receive printed and mailed letters.

  • The most innovative switch kit in the industry brings the member an active, real time checklist with email alerts keeping the process top of mind and organized
  • The member and credit union can access a Switching Checklist providing an up-to-the-second look at each step of the switch
  • Member is alerted via email whenever a vendor responds with switching updates
  • Full admin controls enables you to help your members through any sticking points
  • SSAE 16 compliance and industry-standard 128-bit encryption
  • Vendors can send messages back to the member in regards to switch status and details
  • The eSwitchKit is the latest innovation from the same company that brought you the original Online Switch Kit in 2004 and Premium Online Switch Kit in 2011. More than 100 CUs nationwide employ these Switch Kits that have helped more than 23,000 members switch to their credit union

If you are currently using the Original or Premium Switch Kit and would like to upgrade, please contact me for your prorated upgrade pricing; via email: morriss@everythingcu.com or call me direct at 413-535-0621. For more information about the eSwitchKit or to place an order, visit the eSwitchKit Info/Sales page.

Initial feedback has been positive; feel free to let us know your thoughts and comments about this new concept in helping members make the switch to your CU!

Happy switching!

Making online forms as easy as possible

May 14, 2013

I’m in the process of writing an article for CUES’ CU Management magazine, about KickStart Online Lending Generator and Holy Rosary CU’s results. Editor Lisa Hochgraf had some excellent questions for me which prompted me to do a little bit more research into the universal conclusion that removing barriers and streamlining online forms from the user’s perspective leads to better results and increased sales.

So I thought I would share with you some of the eye-popping research that I discovered (and thus why Carol and Holy Rosary CU are getting wonderful results with KickStart – i.e. 10.49% growth in their loan portfolio over the past 6 months):

• Google’s Marissa Mayer: Speed Wins

The $300 Million Button

How Amazon’s website usability affects consumer product choice (This is a lengthy research paper)

In addition to the above research on the importance of streamlining the user/member/customer experience to improve sales, we’ve done some streamlining of our own. One item that proved to ourselves that we get better results when we make things easier online is that when we took the step of pre-filling out our own Online Switch Kit demo for you, dozens and dozens of you tried it out, compared to nearly no one trying it out when it was not pre-filled. It seems simple, but often times the little things can make a BIG difference!

So in our continuing quest to make our own forms and demos even easier to try out, we’ve now also pre-filled out the already-simple KickStart Loan Request form to make it even easier for you to test that for yourself. Kick the tires on KickStart yourself right here: KickStart test site

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – did you find you got better results when your streamlined your online processes, forms, applications, and navigation? Was there ever a time when making things easier for your members online was a bad thing?

The Disclosures – Thank My Piggy Bank

April 3, 2013

Many of you may know the Madison-based musical duo of Christopher Morris and Chad Helminak, better known as The Disclosures. In addition to their busy touring schedule, they have also been recording some new songs for a forthcoming album.

It’s not too often that my primary job of EverythingCU.com intersects with my side project of music engineering and remixing, but when I heard that Chris and Chad were working on new songs, I jumped at the chance to mix their new album for them. They have been thrilled with the results.

Their first single, Thank My Piggy Bank was just released on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby yesterday, in honor of National Financial Literacy month. Here is their fun video:

And you can purchase/download it from iTunes here. For more details on the duo and the song, their blog post is here. Enjoy!

KickStart in action

March 7, 2013

Carole Wight, CEO of Holy Rosary CU in Kansas City, Missouri, recently shared with us an email exchange she had in regards to an inquiry into her use of EverythingCU.com’s KickStart online loan application:

Question: Once they fill out the on-line app, what is the process/member experience from there? 

Carole: Usually we are able to match the account number with the online application. We pull some quick loan data and promptly call the member back. Usually we have the information we need to move the loan to closing when we call so we are WAY AHEAD on the process.

Question: How has the process/member experience changed from before the on-line app? 

Carole: Before online application, they either didn’t call us because they were at work by the time we were open, or the process dragged on. They would call us initially and we would have to pull their credit and get back to them. All this took time and many times the loan was lost. Either because they never called or we didn’t have the jump we needed to catch the loan.

Question: How has it helped the staff in getting or processing a loan? What % of your loans go thru the on-line app comparative to the traditional process? 

Carole: That is a very interesting question. I don’t have a fancy system that captures numbers for me like this. I wish I did and I am getting ready to go there but I am searching for solutions. I would say 10%-20% of our applications come from KickStart. That is just a guess. NOW, if you ask me which of the most have the most successful close rate, I would say that KickStart helps us get closes. My staff like it because they have tons of information when they start to talk to the member. We have more loans because of KickStart.

If you have any questions in regards to KickStart, please feel free to email me at any time!

Member testimonials in Texas

March 6, 2013

Yesterday, I had a nice phone call with Susan Herring of Brazos Valley Schools CU in Katy, Texas. Susan is awesome, and had a glowing review of our PlumWall testimonial product, which she has been using ever since we rolled it out.

Here’s a summary of what she told me: Susan said she LOVES PlumWall and thinks it’s worth every penny.

She loves how easy it is for members to put their testimonials up, and that members use PlumWall to give their testimonials even more than the online survey system they use.

She also said that staff really enjoys when they are the ones featured in the system. Whenever a new testimonial comes in featuring a staff member, Susan emails it to everyone in the CU so that that staff member gets their moment in the spotlight of doing excellent things for the member, which naturally encourages everyone else to continue doing their great work for members so that they’ll get their turn in the testimonial spotlight down the road.

We are so thrilled that Susan is loving her PlumWall! Maybe it’s something that will liven up your own online member testimonials!

10.49% loan growth for our KickStart client

February 13, 2013

While the NCUA has not yet released the 4th Quarter 2012 5300-data for all CUs, it is available for many CUs on an individual basis.

We can’t help but be beaming proud of Carole Wight and Holy Rosary CU…. and the terrific results she’s getting with her EverythingCU.com KickStart.

I just checked the 4Q12 5300 report for Holy Rosary, and it’s even better than we thought it’d be! We were hoping they would maintain a 3.9% lending growth rate, and THEY WOUND UP BEATING IT! Lending is up EVEN MORE than the previous quarter! Loans are up by 6.3% in just the past quarter!

The last two quarters combined have seen Holy Rosary’s lending go up by 10.49%! If her loan portfolio continues to grow at that pace, her CU will have seen a TWENTY PERCENT increase in loans for the year! Wow! Never in our wildest imaginations did we think KickStart could have such an immediate impact on a CU’s loan portfolio, but the proof is in the NCUA 5300 numbers.

Here is the latest:
Dec 31, 2010: 4,758,649
Mar 31, 2011: 4,647,966
Jun 30, 2011: 4,623,701
Sep 30, 2011: 4,719,143
Dec 31, 2011: 4,918,250
Mar 31, 2012: 7,623,506 <– Merger with a smaller CU
Jun 30, 2012: 7,607,091
Sep 30, 2012: 7,906,605 <– 1st full qtr w/KickStart
Dec 31, 2012: 8,405,157 <– 2nd full qtr w/KickStart

Holy Rosary CU (MO) Loan Growth

If you are ready to give KickStart Online Lending a try, then check out the SPECIAL OFFER we are running, or learn more on the KickStart information page.

A special offer to Kickstart your loans

February 12, 2013

We here at EverythingCU.com are constantly looking for ways to help credit unions and their members, and we are so proud of our KickStart Online Lending Program and the results that Carole Wight at Holy Rosary CU are getting with it, that we’ve decided to make it even more easy to try it out at your CU. We are so thrilled that day after day, Carole is regularly getting quality loan apps brought right to her team’s email inbox, and we’re amazed that KickStart is largely responsible for the 10.49% increase in their loans over the last two quarters.

Matt came up with a promotion idea that we’ve decided to implement, and it goes like this:
Starting March 1, 2013, and running through March 1, 2014, EverythingCU.com is offering a FREE SIX MONTHS of KickStart for everyone who renews their EverythingCU.com Executive Membership OR for anyone who purchases a new Executive Membership.

Why are we doing this? Because we are seeing Holy Rosary CU get incredible results with the product, and we want every CU to know that this product is a can’t-lose proposition. While we can’t guarantee your loan portfolio will also grow by 10.49% over two quarters like Carol’s has, we think it’s worth a try. Once you develop results with KickStart, we think you’ll be as thrilled to continue it as Carole and Holy Rosary are.

If you’ve been considering getting into online lending, now is the time. If you’re unhappy with how cumbersome your current online lending process is, and think your results could be better with a more member-centric process, then give it a try during this limited-time free period.

As with many promo offers, we have a few disclaimers:

  • Promo runs from 3/1/2013 to 3/1/2014.
  • You must contact us that you want to have KickStart implemented for your CU after you order or renew Executive Membership; enrollment in KickStart is not automatic.
  • After six months; unless you choose to discontinue KickStart, it will renew on an annual basis at the regular price.
  • Custom programming for further functionality is not included with this offer, however we will match your web site’s look and feel.
  • EverythingCU.com reserves the right to post your NCUA 5300-report lending portfolio increase and use it as testimonial for the effectiveness of KickStart.

If you’ve been thinking of getting into online lending, this is your chance. To take advantage of this offer, simply order or renew your EverythingCU.com Executive Membership, and then send an email to Matt that you would like to get started with KickStart at no cost for 6 months.

If you’re not looking to implement or improve your online lending right now, but do know of a CU that doesn’t have online lending yet, we’d be grateful if you directed them to this article so they can climb on the KickStart train!


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