SEATTLE-At the downtown Seattle office of BECU, front-line staff are tackling a task critical to the future of the credit union-turning all the new members coming over from banks into profitable relationships.

With the Bank Transfer Day momentum, it's one of the most important jobs facing a credit union today, emphasizes Kristin Anderson, who manages the downtown office. She pointed out the task may be even tougher for her credit union, because her team doesn't get many shots at face-to-face cross-sales, so they have to make the minutes they have with new members count.

"We don't have tellers, as is the case with most all BECU locations," explained Anderson. "We have two, highly sophisticated ATMs that allow members to do most of their transactions. They are in a vestibule in the front of the office, right when members walk in."

That can lead to some long lines on Mondays and Fridays at a location that also gets a lot of lunchtime trade since it's near many office buildings. "It's nice that it's warm weather now, so we can prop open the doors to the branch and people are not packed in the ATM area," said Anderson, who's been with the $10.7-billion BECU for 11 years.


High Traffic Numbers

Thanks to Bank Transfer Day the monthly ATM transactions are up by several thousand, with each machine now averaging about 14,000 to 17,000 a month. Member sign-ups have leveled off a bit from the time of the real Bank Transfer Day boon, but Anderson estimated that instead of doing 125 members a month before Nov. 5, her office is now signing up 175 to 200.

"Our member consultants know how important their jobs are today with the opportunity we have," said Anderson. "They try to do as much of the cross-selling of products and services members need right at sign-up, because we know, with BECU's emphasis on remote banking, we may never see many of these new members again face-to-face."

Member consultants know to ask probing questions at sign-up to sort out needs, scan credit reports for loans, and also explain the CU difference. "We try to get them engaged in the credit union philosophy right from the start," said Anderson. "We talk about the benefits of the cooperative business model, review our own unique operating model, and then look to find ways to save them money. I can tell you, from someone who is in the trenches, we are deepening relationships with many of these new members."

Anderson said her team is well aware that each member contact, whether it be a sign-up or someone stopping in to get a cashier's check, is an opportunity to deepen relationships that can't be overlooked. Her team has been trained in the AID INC sales process, a consultative sales approach designed by the Phoenix-based Integrity Solutions (Credit Union Journal, Jan. 23).

Anderson is doing her part to build relationships with members, looking for cross-sales opportunities when members are in her office, and getting out on the front line. "I like to work side-by-side with my team. Many of us have been together since this office opened four years ago. I think it is important for me to be out front, consulting with members, because my team sees that I am in this with them. This is a pivotal time for credit unions, and it's up to the front line to make a difference."

BECU is based in Tukwila, Wash.





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