One of our family’s guilty pleasures this summer has been watching the miniseries Under the Dome. We certainly aren’t Stephen King fans (never read one of his books) and usually don’t watch much television. But it’s summer and it’s a guilty pleasure.Under the Dome - 1

The show’s basic premise is that a dome encircles a small New England town, completely blocking the outside world. Nothing gets in; nothing gets out. You can see those on the outside but can’t communicate with him (they can’t hear you and you can’t hear them).

Is that what it’s like at your credit union or bank when it comes to your strategy and branding? In other words, are you trying to communicate with consumers and they can’t hear you?

It may be because you are under the dome. Or more precisely, you may have put a dome around your credit union or bank.

We eat, live and breathe financial services. Checking accounts. Loans. Deposits. Investments. Consumers don’t think like that. They live outside our domes. The reality is we need to start thinking less like credit union and banking executives and more like consumers. We need to get out of our dome.

So how do you get out of your dome? Here are few suggestions:

(1) Talk to consumers—We don’t have all the answers (but our members and customers do). By “talking” I’m not referring to focus groups. Just sit down with a few consumers over a cup of coffee and ask them what’s important to them in banking, where they do their business and why.

(2) Test your website—Your website is your front door. How does it look? What is its curb or drive-up appeal? One thing you can do is give a member or customer a task (apply for a loan, open an account, pay a bill, get an e-statement, etc.) to complete on your site and see how long it takes them and what the user experience is like for them.

(3) Call your call center—What’s it like when someone calls your institution? Do they get a live operator or do they get lost in phone loop hell? Your phone representatives must have key skills to connect with consumers.

(4) Leave your office—You can’t manage from behind a desk. So get out. Visit a branch. Attend a chamber function. Get involved in a local event. If you don’t do those activities you risk becoming stale.

A brand or leader inwardly focused is one that is under the dome.  So get out from under your credit union or bank dome.