My members are not listening . . . or are they?

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first_imgRecently I was talking to a credit union CEO who was concerned her members were not listening to the advice they were receiving from her organization.  Every quarter her credit union provides financial literacy training at no cost to their members, with the last 3 quarters focusing heavily on budgeting, spending and savings topics.  Initial feedback was always very positive, but as the CU monitored the behaviors of participants post training, they saw little sustained change in their spending or savings habits. She feared this was an indication the CU was making little progress toward the goal of being their members trusted financial advisor. Was anybody really listening?After some research I assured her that her members were in fact listening carefully, and took her across the street to one of her branches.  Inside we saw banners and posters for credit cards, mortgages, and a teaser rate on home equity lines. Handbacks from tellers pitched a special rate on new car loans.  No mention of savings rates or savings accounts were visible. We listened in as a member service representative qualified a prospective new member for a car loan, credit card and debit card, but no discussion of money market accounts or certificates was made.  We saw the same focus on the credit union’s website and in their print advertising. We did a quick review and estimated that over 80% of the marketing messages focused on loans. Turns out, her members were listening very carefully, and were responding to the messages they received every day, and in every interaction with their credit union.That’s right, 90 minutes of training about the importance of savings got lost in the constant barrage of messages about loans.  This credit union really does care about their members; understands the long term problem for most low- and moderate-income households is not access to credit, but a lack of savings and poor spending discipline.  Yet they failed to fully understand the impact the accumulated weight of messages had on their members. As a former mentor of mine was fond of saying, the message, and the messenger, needs to be consistent.So how do credit unions gain a higher level of perspective on issues like this?  Turns out, most are missing a critical role in the organization. We have chief loan officers, chief financial officers, chief operating and chief risk officers, yet nobody around the table is tasked with the responsibility to really understand the factors that influence the way members analyze choices and make decision.  That role is increasingly called the Chief Behavioral Officer, or CBO. CBO’s have the potential to significantly improve the organization across three fronts:Employee engagement Member behaviorInnovation 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Rick Leander Rick Leander is Founder and Managing Partner of LFB Holdings, a behavioral insights consultancy that works with established and startup enterprises.At LFB Holdings we teach clients how to leverage … Web: Details What does a CBO do?  They are the champions who think about the member or employee who are the heart of every policy, program, service or product.  They ensure there are crisp answers to questions such as, what behavior are we trying to influence, what is the context in which the behavior is being conducted, and what tools do we have to shift behaviors?  CBO’s know the business model, drive curiosity about behavior and motivation throughout the organization, and instill a discipline of experimentation. Experimentation is a key tool of the behavioral officer; they understand that every situation, every eco-system is different and the way to optimize the environment in which members and employees make decisions is to test.  Most importantly CBO’s know that no environment is neutral. Every message, every process, every price or product structure sends signals, subtle or not, about the “right” or “expected” behavior. Do you really understand the impact of your environment on members and employees?  Who in your organization has this responsibility? Does anyone?last_img

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