Several years ago when I was an executive at a financial institution, one particular copy machine in the marketing department kept breaking. Almost on a daily basis, something would go wrong with it. It was such a commonplace occurrence for it to break that I was on a first name basis with the repairman.

One day when I hit “print”, I could hear the noise of yet another unfixable paper jam. I flew out of my office saying all the choice words your mother told you to never use at work. Once I calmed down I realized the real problem wasn’t with the copy machine—it was with me.

I had accepted that the copy machine was going to break all the time. It was just the way we were doing business. I was not doing anything (like replacing the machine) that would solve the long-term problem.

So what are you seeing in your credit union or bank that you are just accepting? Here are a few areas to explore.

  • Complacent staff—We are pretty good about dealing with unethical employees. But what about those people who are just “mailing it in.” You know who they are: they’ve quit, but they just haven’t told you yet. The biggest threats to your brand come from within. Are you seeing some unengaged employees that you are just accepting their 70% buy-in?
  • Underperforming branches—Branches are a major investment for any financial institution. We want to give them every opportunity to succeed and provide a return on those building dollars. At some point, those assets must become profitable. It’s easy to let pride get in the way: closing a branch may seem like a backwards step. You must take emotion out of those types of decisions. Are you seeing a branch that has underperformed for years that you are holding onto because you are afraid to make a hard decision?
  • Dirty bathrooms—Your bathrooms communicate something about your brand. In many ways, branding is about the details (even the detail about your restrooms). When we do marketing audits for our clients, we do the “bathroom smell test.” Why? Because no amount of marketing can overcome a poor restroom. Are you seeing unclean restrooms but ignoring them?
  • Slow procedures—Consumers today want to do business (especially financial business) where it’s easy. Answer this question: how easy is it to do business with your credit union or bank? In other words, there might be policies or procedures that are slowing down things. Granted, some of those might be out of your control. However, there is a good possibility you can review internal issues for improvement. Are you seeing antiquated ways of doing business because of unnecessary or outdated polices and procedures?

Have you ever said “that’s just the way we do business” or “that’s just the way we do things around here?” If that’s the case, then you might be seeing things you are just accepting. Maybe it’s time you look at your credit union or bank with an outsider’s view.

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