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People Over Products: Lessons on Creating an Exceptional Member Experience

Sue Woodard joins The Remarkable Credit Union podcast

Last year, credit union members needed more help than ever. Whether they needed help navigating online banking, making a loan payment,  accessing a stimulus check, or applying for a PPP Loan, members were overwhelming call centers and online contact forms in search of guidance and support.

While credit unions have long prided themselves on building relationships that value people over products, COVID upped the ante for prioritizing member service. Sue Woodard, Chief Customer Officer at Total Expert, joins our podcast this month to tackle this month’s BIG question:

How has COVID impacted member engagement and communication efforts and what new strategies will stick as we return to “normal?”

Sue shares how to create member journeys that drive engagement, human connection, and a personalized experience… even for indirect members!

 

Key takeaways

  1. What doesn’t work when it comes to engaging members is having a transactional mindset and treating all members the same. That is, talking about products or services without knowing what is relevant to their needs. The name of the game is to know our members as people and see what they are going through. And while there are many ways to do this, the guiding mantra should be, why not ask?
  2. People interact with their credit union when big things happen in their lives. They don’t come to us with a transaction in mind; they come to us with their lives in mind. When it comes to engagement, our mantra for our members should be to celebrate the highs and guide them through the lows of their life.
  3. 57% of credit unions don’t have a defined member journey. To improve member engagement, try a simple member journey session where you look at your top 4-5 personas with a cross-functional team. Use a different colored Post-it note for things you do great, you do okay, and where you really need to improve. That can be the catalyst to getting buy-in, breaking down internal silos, and taking the first step towards operationalizing a great member experience with technology, training, and systems.
  4. Indirect members are a big but difficult opportunity. Start by remembering that this is likely their first exposure to a credit union. They need to be educated and engaged. Ask what their needs are. Ask them about the car they bought — why did they buy this car, what do they hope to do with it, why is it important to them? That is the starting point to building a relationship.
  5. To succeed in 2021 and 2022, we will have to be more like Waze and less like a paper map. That is, we will need to combine the human and digital experiences.

Read the full transcript:

Cameron Madill:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Remarkable Credit Union Podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology and community impact. We bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative and magnify the positive impact you have in your community.

Cameron Madill:
Today’s big question, how has COVID impacted member engagement and communication efforts and what new strategies will stick as we return to normal?

Cameron Madill:
Today, I’m very excited to welcome Sue Woodard. Sue currently serves as the Chief Customer Officer for Total Expert, which is a fintech that offers marketing and customer engagement platform for credit unions, banks and other financial services companies.

Cameron Madill:
Sue has 30 plus years of experience, maybe 30 exactly, in the financial services industry and mortgage industry. Sue started her career in personal finance and mortgage loan division at Affinity Plus. She’s also a highly acclaimed industry speaker, subject matter expert and technology exec. She has her own financial radio program and has made guest appearances on CNBC. Additionally, Sue has a whole host of accolades, including being recognized as one of the most powerful women in fintech, one of the most powerful women in mortgage banking, the MPA Hot 100 list, the HousingWire Vanguard Awards and the NMP Most Innovative Award. All right, an amazing list.

Cameron Madill:
In addition to all the sort of professional accomplishments, Sue does a lot of really cool things in her personal life. She serves on the board of Hope for Youth, which is a nonprofit that works to end youth homelessness. In addition, she also has done skydiving over Vegas, firewalking on hot coals, and I just learned that we are both runners and she’s done some pretty impressive long distance runs. And all that being said, parenting is one of her most exciting experiences. Sue, thanks so much for joining us.

Sue Woodard:
Hey, Cameron. Thanks so much for having me today.

Cameron Madill:
I’d love to start with just hearing a little about what initially drew you to the financial services industry and why you are so personally passionate about it.

Sue Woodard:
Yeah, well everybody’s interesting story about how they arrived in financial services and mine is certainly no different. I had started working at a credit union and fell in love with the industry and I ended up getting deeper into the credit union because we actually got robbed several times. So we were robbed multiple times. It was my roommate and best friend who was the head teller that was robbed at gunpoint. I remember having to go with her to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to look at lineups. It was very interesting. But at that time we’d been robbed a few times and I said, “Hey, maybe I need to go work in a different part of the credit union,” and so I actually got into the mortgage division at that time. But I did a lot of really cool things across the credit union. But like I said, really got pulled deeper into it, honestly, out of fear for my life, getting to change jobs and investigate a lot of different areas of the credit union.

Sue Woodard:
The reason I’m so passionate about just financial services in general is, as we’re serving our members, people intersect with their financial services institutions like their credit unions when they’ve got something going on in their lives, the milestones in their lives. If you’re graduating from college or getting married, you’re getting divorced, you’ve got a new job, you’ve lost your job, you’re getting a new car, you’re getting a business, a second home, whatever those things are, they’re coming to their credit union and they’re coming to you with not just a transaction in mind, but with their life in mind. So I just feel like it’s an amazing honor to intersect with our members at these times when they’re truly going through something big in their life. It’s not just about the dollars and cents and decimal points. It’s about somebody’s life experiences and getting to play a part in that.

Cameron Madill:
People don’t come to you with a transaction in mind, they come with their life in mind. I think that’s such a great way to capture what it’s all about.

Cameron Madill:
Building on that, I think one of the reasons I was so excited to have you on the show was over the last 15 months, credit unions have had to really just change how they communicate with their members and engage with them in new ways. And I know that you’re really passionate about that whole customer member experience component and so I’m curious with all of this change, what have you seen that has worked and what have you seen that has not worked?

Sue Woodard:
A couple of things, we’ll start with what hasn’t worked. What I’ve seen is what doesn’t work is talking about just your products and services, like what we were talking about before, and you see it a lot of times. I think the beautiful thing is everybody listening to this podcast, we’re all getting to participate in this grand experiment of belonging to financial services firms. We all have accounts, obviously, hopefully at our own credit unions, but if you have any other financial relationships, we’re getting to witness how they behave. And in many cases, our financial services institutions are just blobbing a product or a service on top of you without knowing if that’s even remotely appropriate for your life. And I think having good products and good services and good interest rates and all those things, that’s just the price for even being in the game.

Sue Woodard:
If you don’t have those things, you don’t have good quality products, services, competitive interest rates, you’re not really even in the game. But I think it’s really… It blasts going out that it might be just completely inappropriate for that person. So I would say that’s one thing is just the blast about your products and services is just very passe.

Sue Woodard:
Also, as we touched on a little bit a minute ago, is having a transactional mindset, looking at the financial information. If you have this financial information about your members and their life information, you think about all the information that you gain on an application, and if you don’t do something with that to say, “Gosh, I see that you’ve got these two young kids, are you even thinking about college yet?” Just asking about what are your life goals or what are your plans? What are your unsolved problems and pain points and find solutions. So again, I see sometimes when it doesn’t work is having that transactional mindset instead of that how can I impact their life mindset.

Sue Woodard:
And along the same lines, as I’ve been talking about, is I think treating all members the same, as if they’re this amorphous blob of members, “And now we will just send out the marketing piece about X for all of them,” when it might be completely inappropriate. Rather, the message is inappropriate, the cadence is inappropriate, the channel through which is inappropriate. We’ve got so many great tools that we can use that to me, it doesn’t work. It rings very, I don’t know, disingenuous when you’re doing it in that particular way.

Sue Woodard:
I can tell you what I think does work is really knowing your members as people, and this is something where I have to say credit unions shine. I’m not just saying this because I’m on a credit union podcast. But I will say that when I ask a large group of people is who feels like your financial institution actually knows you and sees you? If a hand will go up, Cameron, every single time when I say tell me what kind of an institution or where is that place that you’re doing your finance, it’s a credit union every single time. Every single time when somebody says, they know me. So I think that’s a huge thing. And it’s a shift that I think a lot of companies have gotten maybe a little bit more latitude to make during COVID. There’s so many ways that you couldn’t engage that people got a little bit smarter and more creative about saying, how do we see our members as people and the challenges that they’re going through?

Sue Woodard:
Very interestingly, what we went through in the last 15 months, that coming out of in various stages right now, it created a time that [inaudible 00:07:31] the last time we went through a huge crisis if you go back to 2008, financial institutions were the villains. Whereas this time, we really got to be the heroes to say, “Hey, you’re probably going through something in your life, we’re all going through something, and so how is this impacting you and how can we be there for you? What are you struggling with right now? How can we be of assistance to you? What roadblocks are you facing and how do we help you through that?” That’s something that I hope to see really, really, truly carry on is that little bit more personalized approach on how you can actually make their lives better, not just during crisis, but after post-crisis as well.

Sue Woodard:
I would also say a data-driven plan to help members achieve their goals, really paying attention to your member engagement metrics, whether that would be open or response rates or paying attention to what your customers are telling you that they want and asking them what they want. I know we’re probably going to talk about this a little bit more, but I’m fascinated sometimes when I go to different conferences and people will talk about artificial intelligence and [inaudible 00:08:31] all these data points and what does it mean, and I think that’s incredibly important, but man, how much is asking? How about asking people, where are you at? What resonates with you the most?

Sue Woodard:
We were talking about, Cameron, you’ve got a young family, and so your needs and goals and pain points and things you’re planning on are different for me being. So I’ve got a 23-year-old daughter and she’s getting married and we’re at a different phase of life, and so why not ask?

Sue Woodard:
So those are the things that I see both not working and the things that I’ve seen working really, really well as we’re progressing post-

Sue Woodard:
… That I’ve seen working really, really well as we’re progressing post COVID.

Cameron Madill:
I love that phrase. Why not ask? It’s something that always kind of baffles me when I’m engaging with any kind of business and something slips out. Like, yeah, like I had a new baby or something big and just how rarely someone just says, “Oh, what’s that like,” or, “What’s been the best part,” or “What’s been the hardest part?” And I always think, for getting out of a transactional mindset, you just nailed it. Why not ask? That’s really all it takes to get out of a transactional mindset is just a little bit of curiosity.

Sue Woodard:
That’s right.

Cameron Madill:
So, I’d love to maybe build on that a little bit. One thing we hear again and again, both from our clients and just from other contacts in the credit union space, is that member engagement is an ongoing struggle. And I may be speculating a bit here, but just a lot of credit union’s historical advantages come in face-to-face interactions. And a lot of that was taken away over the last 15 some months.

Sue Woodard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.

Cameron Madill:
That there’s kind of this historical focus, marketing is about acquisition. It’s about getting new members. We keep hearing that there’s at least as much opportunity in retention, but it’s a little bit more of the long game. And it’s a little bit harder as far as connecting all the internal stakeholders for a more robust onboarding engagement and retention program. And so, I’m curious, because I always think this is like the holy grail of any business is deep, long-term relationships.

Sue Woodard:
Yeah.

Cameron Madill:
Not a sort of rapid high churn sales approach, though sales definitely is needed for new folks.

Sue Woodard:
Yes.

Cameron Madill:
But so, what advice would you give to a credit union trying to improve its member engagement efforts in this current environment and in this day and age?

Sue Woodard:
Yeah. I’m so glad you asked this question because this is something I’m super, super passionate about. And the good news is the answer to this is not particularly complex. Right?

Sue Woodard:
So, what I would tell you is that, and I talked about this last year a lot, is mapping out that customer and member journey. And the reason why I talk about, like I said, I talked about it last year and I’m talking about it again is because your member journey is something that, once you have it mapped out, and we’re going to talk about how you do that, it’s evolving. It’s not something that’s set in stone. Because, as times change, it’s very different, what you would have put in place last year for your member journey versus what you might put in place right now and different a year from now.

Sue Woodard:
And so, I would say sometimes people get very thrown off when they talk about mapping out their member journey and even going down a lot of bunny trails and you can get thrown off thinking, “Oh, I’ve got to have some amazing journey mapping software and something really complex. And how do we do all this?” And I can tell you that we actually did this at Total Expert for our own customers. Exactly what you just said, there’s often a lot of attention paid to acquisition and how do we get the leads. But think about what a weird experience that is. If you’re doing this crafted process in order to get somebody in the door, and then the minute that they’re at the altar and they come in the door with you, suddenly that experience completely changes and you’re not on that same journey.

Sue Woodard:
And so, we went through this year at Total Expert to make sure that this is what we help our customers do. We needed to make sure that we were doing a good job in the same way. And so, what we did is literally got packs of post-it notes and Sharpies, and we got a cross-functional team, got a huge wall in the office and we mapped it out. And you hit on this saying, “How do you get all of those internal stakeholders connected?” You pull in all of those internal stakeholders, because it’s just like, as I say, the blind man on the elephant where one person says it feels like wall, and it’s a snake, it’s a tree. Everybody has a little bit of a different perspective of the whole thing.

Sue Woodard:
And so, mapping out what do you want that ideal member journey to be and thinking about who are your personas? And don’t get crazy. Don’t look at 20 different personas. But think of who are your three or four key personas and map out what does that look like after acquisition? After they’ve started onboard and they’re now a member of the credit union, what does that mean? What experience do we want them to have? And the way that we actually mapped it out is we said, “Here’s the things that we do all of the time, that we’re doing a really good job at.” Use a different color post-it and said, “These are the things we kind of do sometimes that maybe we’re a little ad hoc that we need to operationalize.” And then, we could see places really easily like, “Wow, there’s a big gap and we’re not doing anything with that.” Then we prioritized our gaps and started to get those operationalized over time.

Sue Woodard:
And this is something that, again, honestly doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be super technical. That’s why I say the answer to this is somewhat simple. But really sometimes just visually mapping it out with that cross-functional team, you see really quickly ways that you can build engagement when you start to dream and kind of pull off all the limits and say, “What do we want our members to be able to experience with us?”

Cameron Madill:
I love that analogy of getting to the altar and then just sort of giving up. I think that’s like… I remember when I got married a few years ago and so many people were just like, “Congratulations.” And, of course, I was excited, but I was also like, “It’s not like we just get a free pass now. Like in a lot of ways, like the real work starts when a commitment happens.”

Sue Woodard:
Yes. Yes.

Cameron Madill:
But I think it’s easier to focus sometimes on the top of the funnel, so.

Sue Woodard:
No. It’s true. It’s true. And that’s a great gift. When somebody is saying, “Hey, I want to be a member of your credit union and I’m coming in and I’m going to become a part of what you’re doing.” It’s a special thing. And, to your very good point, there’s a lot of renewed focus on having that member for life and really serving them throughout, not just that one car loan and that’s going to be the deal, or $10 in the share account or whatever, but it’s really starting to engage with that member. And again, asking them and learning from them and taking the data points that you have. And then, really just mapping out what that journey should look like for that member. And to make them be that person in one of my sessions, raising their hand, saying, “My credit union knows me and they do pay attention to me as a person and as an individual member.”

Sue Woodard:
So, and again, the key is operationalizing all this. Anybody listening, they think, “Well, yeah. If I only had three members, I’d be great. I’d call them every day and it’d be awesome.” But this is where I do think the great technology comes to bear is that you can take that ideal journey, operationalize that, and just really ensure that you got that great journey that you want every single member to have.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. Technology, systems, and training. Right? You need all of those to build that great experience.

Sue Woodard:
Yeah.

Cameron Madill:
So, that was also a perfect segue because you mentioned the nemesis, of course, of many credit unions, which is car loans. And I remember back when we first started working with credit unions, I talked to maybe it was like our third credit union client and they were telling me about indirect lending. And I thought, “Oh, this isn’t that hard. I’ve studied business quite intensely. And I’ve got all these connections. And how hard can it be?” And I was wrong, of course. And it’s something that is a continued challenge for credit unions, where they have this indirect lending channel, most often with car loans.

Sue Woodard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cameron Madill:
But how to do something with that, how to build brand awareness, how to incentivize them to really make that credit union their primary financial institution? So, I’d love to know, given all of your experience, do you have any advice on how to sort of convert a highly transactional member, I suppose, to someone who really is more connected more deeply to the credit union?

Sue Woodard:
Yeah. Well, I do think it’s a unique opportunity because in some cases that’s the first exposure that someone has to a credit union. Right? In a lot of [inaudible 00:16:01] that could be the very first time that they’re getting actually to experience what a credit union is like. And what a missed opportunity, if you don’t step into it and show them how a credit union is different. Most people, if you ask them a bunch of questions about their financial relationship or their banking relationship, generally, they’re not saying, “Oh, yeah. Man, it’s awesome. I’m getting all kinds of personalized information. I’m getting good guidance. I’m getting education.” They’re not getting those things. And so, I do think, again, this is where, again, asking the question.

Sue Woodard:
I think again, there’s a lot of power in the data, but there’s also a lot of power in literally asking the questions. And you can do that via surveys. It doesn’t have to be individual phone calls. But you can learn a lot when you’re asking the right questions in the right way about where are you at in your life? What would be most helpful to you right now? Which of these categories most resonates with you, starting a family, starting a business, retirement, or vacation? Pick one. And then, you learn something about that person.

Sue Woodard:
I think also that, again, I’ve seen a lot of really good work done over the last year because of the crisis where people were doing better work around education, because a lot of people needed it, whether it was them themselves, or it was somebody one degree of separation away, there was crisis. There was somebody who was worried about losing their job, about making the rent payments, about just any number of things. And being able to step in and provide education, I think, this is a way where you can take these indirect members that are experiencing a credit union for the first time and show them something different.

Sue Woodard:
I had banked with the same institution for 30 years, 30 years. And they know nothing about me, and it’s stunning. They know that there’s checking account Sue, and there’s debit card Sue, and they know there’s home equity loan Sue. And that’s it. And they don’t ever put those pieces together. And it’s almost offensive when I think, “I’ve given you so much information. How is it possible that you’re not reaching out to me and asking?” There’s all kinds of information and education that they’re perfectly positioned to give me. And they know a lot about me. It’s all-

Sue Woodard:
Perfectly positioned to give me, and they know a lot about me. It’s almost, as I said, it’s almost disrespectful and a disservice not to ask, how can we help you? So I do think that there’s a lot of questions, even on an indirect, asking questions about, did you make this purchase to put a family in this vehicle? Is this a vehicle for your business? Is this something you dream of taking a road trip on? Is this something for a student to take out to college? Think about just asking that question about why did you make this particular purchase? Why is this financing so important to you and what a door that opens to step into? Again, not just a transaction, but into somebody’s life.

Cameron Madill:
All right. So let’s go in a slightly different direction. You told me you did this crazy run. What was it called? Ragnarok, rager something?

Sue Woodard:
Ragnar, the Ragnar, yeah.

Cameron Madill:
Ragnarok’s the thing from Thor, I think. A Ragnar. So let’s say a credit union found out that member Sue did a Ragnar. What kind of followup would you have? I’m really putting you on the spot here, but [inaudible 00:19:01].

Sue Woodard:
Well, and we do talk a lot about that. It’s about how do you celebrate a win for your customers? And again, I know it’s getting very specific and very individualized, but for me, I would be blown away if any institution that I did any kind of business with had just said, “Congratulations on this accomplishment that you did.” Being able to celebrate with people, guide people through their lows and celebrate their highs with them, I think is incredibly, incredibly important.

Sue Woodard:
And it’s also something that in marketing, when you are highlighting member stories, credit unions are a business of stories. And we sometimes may forget that in just the day in, day out, doing the things. These are people’s life stories that are taking place in front of our eyes. And when you have a member story, people are attracted to stories. This is how people learned about all of history is by sharing stories with each other, right?

Sue Woodard:
And so when you find out a member story, think about if there was an opportunity, if you find out something about some member inside your credit union, did something [crosstalk 00:20:04] Ragnar, but doing something like that. And featuring that story and doing a highlight on member Sue who ran this race, and we just want to celebrate that. You can’t do that for every single member, but can you find some amazing stories every single day? And then use those on social media, maybe in your newsletters, because people do business with people. People don’t necessarily choose to do business with a company. People do business with people and people are attracted to people and they’re attracted to stories. And we are literally in a business of stories, so find those stories, raise up those stories and celebrate your members.

Cameron Madill:
I love it. And anyone who doesn’t know what a Ragnar run is, you should Google it and you’ll have a whole new perspective on Sue. All right, so I’d love to talk a little bit about personalization. It’s obviously something we all hear about, we all want to do more of, but a lot of folks don’t know where to start. We see a lot of clients who have marketing automation tools, but they’re just sitting dormant or partially used. So what advice would give to a credit union that’s just kind of at the beginning stages of personalization and automation?

Sue Woodard:
It goes back a little bit to what we talked about a moment ago, which is defining who are your key personas. And don’t get crazy, again, you can make, oh my gosh, you can really go nuts creating different personas, but just start with your key basic four or five personas, and then map out that journey. And it sounds really simple, but we did a survey with financial brands and we learned that the majority of credit unions, 57% of credit unions said they don’t even have a defined member journey at all. They may have a marketing plan, but it’s not really revolving around a member journey. And so I would say start with a few key personas, map out that journey.

Sue Woodard:
And onboarding, I think, is one of the most critical journeys. I mean, we’re talking about onboarding all the time with our customers because it is such a critical moment, right? We’re walking away from that altar and you’re kind of like, “Okay, you’re in now, you’re a member.” What does that look like? And it’s a big deal to welcome them in the right ways, provide the information that they may need.

Sue Woodard:
And so I do think a lot of times, people think personalization is just making sure that their name shows up into your camera and in a letter that may come to you. But I do think that this is where again, the power of technology can come to bear when you’ve got journeys, for example, generally you’ve got some level of intelligent automation and you can start to adjust the journey based on what that person is reacting to or not reacting to, right? So you can take it beyond kind of the old way of doing things with the drip campaigns, whether they want it or not, we’re going to drip on their heads 10 times about an auto loan and then we’ll stop. Well, maybe they just got an auto loan with you and they’re dripping on their heads six more times. That literally screams to that person, I don’t know you, and I’m not paying any attention to what actually you’re doing.

Sue Woodard:
And so additionally, when you think about past channel preferences and past paying attention to what they’ve actually done with you, you do have a lot of member facing teams that can add context. And so when you again, have the ability to capture those data points, make those data points, put them into your CRM, and really just ensure that you’re capturing those personal things. And then again, there’s a lot of people that want the online ability and the ability to self-serve and have a digital service option, but it doesn’t mean that you still don’t have that connection. You always should utilize technology to automate all of the things that you can, and operationalize your great member journeys, but nothing substitutes for having when somebody reaches out their hand, they want a human being. That’s where your member facing teams are really going to shine and be there for your members.

Cameron Madill:
Great answer. I’d love to talk about everyone’s favorite pandemic, the thing that’s taken over all of our lives. So we’re “going back to normal,” right? And I’m just curious, how do you think that’s going to impact member engagement communication? Because I think there’s these different buckets of things that worked really well in the pandemic. I had one client tell me of, we used to always say we could never do X. Well, that’s not true anymore, right, because they just proved it. And there were things that worked really well in the pandemic. And so are they going to stop working? And are there things that didn’t work that are going to start working? How do you think about this new universe, that is in a weird way, I feel like almost as unknown as going into the pandemic of what this new normal will look like.

Sue Woodard:
It’s such a good point. And it’s so funny, because didn’t we all get tired of hearing the new normal and unprecedented, but you brought up something that I loved. And I’m really thinking about when we were going through this, you said that we suddenly realized these things that we thought would be impossible suddenly weren’t, right? It’s like the four minute mile, right? We were talking about running the four minute mile, nobody could do the four-minute mile. Nobody could do the four minute until Roger Bannister did. And then suddenly now thousands of people have run a four-minute mile.

Sue Woodard:
So you realize, once something you realize has to be possible, we have to get all of our employees suddenly home over the course of a week. And we’ve been working on this for years and haven’t been able to do it, and suddenly you do it. You start to have those barriers removed and think, “Wow, what else might we be able to do?” So as we move forward, and it is continuing to evolve. I think we need to be more like waves and less like the old fashioned roadmap, right? We need to be able to adjust as we go based on the circumstances as they unfold. And it’s like, whoops, we’re going to need to take a detour here. But at least we do know where we’re going. We know where the end goal is with that member engagement. But it’s going to take some twists and turns as we go, and I think that’s the magic of the folks listening to this call is applying their own intuition.

Sue Woodard:
But what I see and what I’ve heard from people going forward is that I think members are going to continue to embrace probably a combination of in-person and technology aided approaches with their financial services partners. I think a lot of people, to your good point, they had to become comfortable doing things digitally because that was really the only option. But most people still say that they prefer to open an account with a new institution in a face-to-face setting. I think it still is almost half. There was a study by Accenture that we were looking at and half of the people out there still want to do it face-to-face, which I think is rather amazing. And credit unions are going to follow that same pattern.

Sue Woodard:
And so, that’s where I think it could be the best of both worlds. As I said, you want to utilize technology and have it there to do all the things that it can do. But interestingly, there was all this talk about the millennials and they don’t want people and they just want everything to be digital. And it turns out that it’s very opposite from that, where the millennials sometimes more so than I’m a Gen X-er, more so than my generation or even the boomers, they want to have a connection with the place that they’re doing business with that is at that human level, right? They want the technology at their fingertips to do the things, to check their balances, to make the transfers. But man, when they reach out their hand, again, they want that person to be there, and that’s very important.

Sue Woodard:
So I do think that it’s going to be the companies that are going to win, and the credit unions that are really going to shine are the ones that do the best job of combining those two experiences, having a digital experience, but then also ensuring that you’re-

Sue Woodard:
… as having a digital experience, but then also ensuring that you’re not trying to replace a human connection with technology, but really just enhancing that connection, the technology with that human being. So I think it’s going to be a combination of those things, but I do think it is a continuing relentless focus on that member experience, that as we continue to go more virtual paying more attention about how do you make those connections with your members in all of those platforms. Those are going to be the companies that are really going to win.

Cameron Madill:
I love it. Well, I’d like to ask you a little more, I just want to do some rapid-fire questions, so we get to know you a little bit better.

Sue Woodard:
Okay.

Cameron Madill:
So what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Sue Woodard:
The best advice I ever received was to understand that you don’t know what somebody else is going through. You are not walking in somebody else’s shoes and to have grace. I think about this all the time, both personally and professionally with how people behave. And I’ve shared this with my daughter, is that you don’t know the struggles that somebody else may be going through. And so have grace, have kindness, do the right thing and just be kind, you don’t know what somebody else’s journey is like.

Cameron Madill:
All right. What is your favorite movie, Sue?

Sue Woodard:
Princess Bride.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah, that’s a classic one. Can’t go wrong with Princess Bride.

Sue Woodard:
We laugh, it’s just I can’t get enough of it. It’s like the one that is on and I’m never going to go past it when I’m clicking around the channels, Princess Bride,

Cameron Madill:
If you could have dinner with one historical person, who would it be?

Sue Woodard:
I don’t know if it’s historical, but it would be my grandma. I didn’t get to know any of my grandparents actually, as well as I would have liked to growing up. But honestly, my grandmother grew up in the south and had a job before a lot of women were necessarily working professionally. She worked for actually Martin Luther King’s organization in their printing area and living in the south at that time. So like I said, I don’t know that she’s historical per se, but she’s historical to me and I would love to have dinner with her.

Cameron Madill:
Wow. I bet she had some amazing experiences. All right. And lastly, if we were in some bizarre alternate universe where you had to wear a t-shirt with one word on it for the rest of your life, what would that word be?

Sue Woodard:
Gosh, Cameron, where do you come up with these things?

Cameron Madill:
This is a really weird one. Yeah.

Sue Woodard:
Tenacity.

Cameron Madill:
Tenacity. I love it.

Sue Woodard:
Yeah. There’s a phrase that I love. I’ll tell you and I don’t tell most people this, but there’s kind of a little power phrase that I love and it is nulla tenaci invia est via, and in Latin, that means to the tenacious, no road is impassable. And I love that because I think just personally and professionally, that is something that I’ve hung on to because I might not be able to figure it out this way, but then I’m going to go figure it out this way. And I might not win this way, but I’m going to figure out how do I get it this way. And I might not do okay at it, but I wanted to do it like this. And I feel like it served me well in my life to be tenacious. So that’s my secret power phrase that I never shared on a podcast, Cameron, but I’m sharing with you.

Cameron Madill:
I love that answer, plus, no, one’s going to mess with you if that’s your t-shirt, right? Nobody’s going to be like, “Oh, I’m going to mess with that person,” right?

Sue Woodard:
That’s right.

Cameron Madill:
Well, I’d love to know just for a quick final take, is there anything you want to leave our audience with that you didn’t get to or anything you want to reiterate?

Sue Woodard:
No, I think the most important thing is just the actions that people take from here. People take time and they listen to podcasts, and I’ve done a lot of speaking in my life, and I always think, but what do you actually go do? What is your audience going to go do after they listened to this? That would be the one thing that I would say is you’ve spent this time, whatever length of time that this has been listening to Cameron and I have this conversation, and certainly, of course, if we do all kinds of cool things at Total Expert, so I could say your actions should be reaching out to us, but really what is your action going to be for your credit union? Are you going to get on Amazon right now in order that pack of Post-it notes and get a team together cross-functionally and start to map out what your member journey looks like? What action are you actually going to take?

Sue Woodard:
So I would just challenge folks listening, after we wrap this up, do something, call somebody, tell them some takeaway that you had from this, block out a time that going to map out what that journey could look like, be thoughtful about are you serving, are you asking your members questions about their lives? Where are you going to get content that’s going to help educate them if you don’t have it currently? But do something, put something on your calendar, call somebody, share this podcast with somebody, and do something. And so, again, Cameron, I’ve loved this time together, but that would be the greatest gift is if I knew folks listening took this and actually put it into action in their own credit unions, because, man, people are serving their members, they’re serving the communities, and they’re making a difference in lives. And as I said, it’s has been my honor to be a part of it today.

Cameron Madill:
Well, thank you so much. Take action and do it with tenacity. A perfect closing note. It’s been a real pleasure having you on. I appreciate you taking the time.

Sue Woodard:
Thanks, Cameron. Thanks, everybody.

Cameron Madill:
All right, folks, another really enjoyable podcast. I loved talking to Sue. I’d like to share a few of my key takeaways. I really love this framing of remembering what doesn’t work as much as what does work. So as Sue said, what doesn’t work when it comes to engaging members is talking about our products or services without knowing what’s appropriate, having a transactional mindset, and treating all members the same. I also love this notion that the name of the game is to know our members and see what they’re going through when it comes to engagement. And while there’s a whole bunch of ways to do this, data analysis, surveys, she said just the guiding mantra of an organization should just be why not ask? I think that’s so powerful.

Cameron Madill:
Next, we talked about how reminding us that people interact with credit unions when big things happen in their lives. They don’t come to us with a transaction in mind. Members come to us with their lives in mind. And I think when it comes to engagement that our mantra for members should be to celebrate the highs and guide them through the lows of their life. And I think if we can do that, celebrate the highs and guide them through the lows, we’ll be doing a really outstanding job of engaging our members.

Cameron Madill:
I appreciated how Sue framed how her organization approached in their case, customer engagement, and just having a simple member journey session, where we sit down with a cross-functional team, we look at the top four to five personas and use different colored Post-it notes for each step of that journey. What are the things we do great? What are the things we do okay? And what are the things we really need to improve? And how this can be the catalyst to take action, to really getting internal buy-in, breaking down those silos that you have, and taking that first step toward being able to operationalize a great member experience with technology, training, and systems. And that’s a request that we’ve heard come up again and again from marketing teams is how do they get that kind of internal connection?

Cameron Madill:
And maybe not shocked, but it’s certainly made me raise my eyebrows to hear that 57% of credit unions don’t have a defined member journey. And so when we’re asking that question of how do we create member engagement or experience that that is obviously the critical starting point. I really appreciated Sue’s take on indirect members, how they’re a big but difficult opportunity. It’s something that’s come up again and again, over the years. And I think her framing was one of the best that I’ve heard of starting by remembering that this is likely someone’s first exposure to a credit union, so they need to be both educated and engaged in an individual way. So that comes down to, of course, asking what their needs are, but I thought there was a particularly insightful approach, which is to ask them about the car that they bought. Why do they buy this car? Why now? What do they hope to do with it? Why is that important to them? And that that can be the starting point to building a relationship and learning about them as you tell them about yourself.

Cameron Madill:
And then I loved this analogy to succeed in 2021 and 2022, as we move out of this pandemic phase, that we’ll have to be more like ways and less like a paper map. We need to combine the human and digital experiences in a way that we’ve never had to before. And lastly, I loved Sue’s parting words. If the word of her life is tenacity and her life mantra, it sounds like is to the tenacious, no road is impassable.

Cameron Madill:
All right, thanks for joining us today for another great episode. Until the next time, I wish you all the best of luck and making your credit union remarkable.

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