The point of research is to collect actionable information that can be used to improve the member experience and grow the credit union. Here is a five-step model one credit union has used successfully for many years.
Step 1: Research needs and trends. For example, research may reveal that members value convenience most, and convenience is defined as free access, not just access.
Step 2: Develop products, solutions and actions. How many free access channels can be created to meet that demand (immediate credit for remote deposits, ATM surcharge reimbursements, personal delivery service, etc.)?
Step 3: Promote, creating demand and value. Communicate and market the new offering (newsletters, billboards, website, personalized email notifications and/or direct mail detailing access options by home or work zip code).
Step 4: Conduct product and sales training, and actively engage in selling the new product/service. Marketing can open the door, but it takes sales activity to close it. Developing new business requires personal, one-on-one interaction with members.
Step 5: Create relationships to exceed expectations. Again, the imperative is one-on-one personal interaction with members.
The model is circular. Resuming at Step 1, new research determines if convenience has in fact increased. If members are not aware of the new offering, additional research can point the way to enhance the institution's marketing efforts. Continue to work the circle of research, improvement, implementation and verification until the desired outcomes are achieved. Remember: no change can be made in isolation. Continue to monitor the member experience to ensure an improvement in one area has not led to deterioration in another.
While one-time projects generally do not demand ongoing research, the model can make the most of research and marketing efforts in measuring continuing processes like attrition, new member experiences or non-member awareness. At the very least, assess the new and current member experiences because they offer the greatest opportunity to build deeper relationships.
Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at 310-643-5910 or by email at ngoldman<at>memberresearch.com