One of the biggest mistakes a credit union can make during the core conversion process is alienating their members by failing to effectively communicate such a significant change. So, what’s the best way to inform your members about the exciting new changes coming their way? Here are several tips and strategies I have seen successfully utilized over the years.
Don’t count only on email to communicate product changes
Email and web communication can be very efficient, but do not underestimate the effectiveness of eye-catching lobby signage, a physical brochure, or upgrade guide to hand out at the front line or insert with your statements. Remember: Not all your members are virtual or online savvy and non-electronic forms of communication may prove more valuable for them.
Be as visual as possible in your message
Assigning a “theme” to your upgrade project is a great way to promote it in a positive way and apply a consistent visual representation throughout all communication delivery channels. For example, a theme like “Under Construction” would lend itself to fun visual aids like construction hats, vests etc. which could be incorporated in physical branch locations as well as printed and online communication materials.
Give them plenty of time to adjust but do not communicate too much too soon
Determining how much to communicate and when is a balancing act. Communicating too early has proven to be ineffective as members may forget important information and many conversion details are still being ironed out in the first few months of the project. I always recommend multiple touch points with members starting no earlier than 90 days pre-conversion which still gives them ample time to prepare for any changes or action needed on their part.
In my experience, the most effective communication takes place 30-45 days pre-conversion. Throughout the conversion process it is important to plan for member retention by listening/responding to concerns and offering better services post-conversion. Create an online community – whether through social media or your website – where you can share real-time updates and directly address member questions or concerns.
Be personal in your communication with your members
Provide targeted communications to specific demographics of your membership with relevant information that could directly impact them. Will there be branch closures or service interruptions? Are online banking or bill pay changing? Are you getting a new mobile app? Will they lose access to prior transaction history or statements? These are all common questions or concerns that impact specific segments of your membership.
This also applies when addressing dissatisfied members. Today, when members are unhappy, they often turn to social media to express their displeasure. Monitor hashtags and social media posts, responding to each one as they come. Leave a response that addresses the comment made and not just a robotic reply. People often just want to be heard. A personalized reply may help them to feel heard and they may calm down.
Show that you and your team are listening to what your members want
This is a perfect opportunity to highlight new and improved features this upgrade will provide and reinforce the fact that many of these changes are a result of member feedback or requests. Focus on the features that will make them appreciate the changes.
How you communicate conversion related changes sets the tone for the entire membership. These are just a few suggestions you can leverage to stay connected with your membership during the conversion process. Work closely with your new core partner to provide pertinent, accurate details – they will most likely have a plethora of samples or materials, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!