Research is an income generator. Research is an expense minimizer. And research is a key tool to help you grow. [No, I'm not smoking any funny stuff. Really] Read on.
Income growth. Credit unions today need income growth like never before. Market research can help. Which fees are most elastic? Which proposed new products have the greatest appeal? And which marketing promotions and benefits most resonate with members?
Resources are finite; research can help you focus for maximum return. Consider the following research lessons to illustrate.
Create deposit products with maximum rate or term flexibility.
Truly free ATM access remains a "raise" product over the competition.
Remote deposit capture via scanning is more appealing than via mail.
High-income members want branches for problem resolution (defense); low income members want branches for immediate credit (offense). Consider this in whether to deploy deposit image ATMs.
High interest/high debit checking will appeal to existing debit card users; high credit card users will likely pass.
Expense reduction. Research is vital before launching an expensive initiative. Member Research alone has saved credit unions from wasting literally millions of dollars on errant projects.
Test relationship pricing programs to ensure they won't result in shrinkage rather than growth. If your CFO is driving your pricing...no offense intended...please test first.
Test TV, radio, print, and online ads for appeal. Ads can be expensive. Don't jump in the pool before testing the water.
Consider staff focus groups for cost reductions and/or process improvements. Get new ideas and ownership from team members.
Closed account surveys can tell you why members are leaving. Being oblivious to service quality problems is dangerous.
Growth. Member loyalty drives growth. Since word of mouth is consumers' primary source of information about financial institutions, you simply have to understand what members are saying about you.
One credit union discovered 97% of its potential members had consciously chosen not to use the CU. Further marketing was pointless. The CU changed its FOM and ultimately its success.
Another learned its telephone hold times were its primary Achilles' heel: the No. 1 source of member defections. Outsourcing made the difference.
One CU learned its members were unaware of over 50% of its long-time products. Marketing, training, cross selling ensued. Result: growth in each.
Intelligent research can help you enhance income, reduce costs and grow into the future. So as you consider that new initiative, deployment or strategy, employ research as a crucial step. Ready. Ask. Succeed.
Mike Anstead is Vice President with Member Research. He can be reached at 949-833-6901 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.