• Fred Kelly

All Member Needs Are Not Created Equal

You are probably familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the idea that our needs are not all equal. We need to have our more basic needs broadly met before we can move onto the next level in the hierarchy of needs.


The same is true for your members. Not all their needs are equal. By ranking their needs you can prioritize those that have the biggest impact on the member experience.


A Way to Understand Your Members' Needs

For example, the non-profit, member-owned angle is prevalent in credit union marketing. It is an important differentiator from the traditional source of competition, banks, but it focuses a long way up the pyramid. It assumes all the basic needs are being met. They're not.


If members hear about how much your credit union is different from banks because it cares about the community, but they can't get hold of you easily and are forced through automated telephone menus systems, then you are working from the top down rather than the bottom up.


If you don't have their basic needs covered then you’re not going to get a good return on marketing that focuses higher up the pyramid. In fact, there’s a real risk that you will antagonize members.


Master the basics and market them before you tackle the second level of the hierarchy

A better alternative would be “Speak to a real person every time”, or “Fed up with wasting hours on hold to speak to an agent? At Amazing Credit Union a real person will answer your call within 3 rings. Give it a try!” or “We are bot-free, so you get your needs met by real people that can actually help”. These are level 1 frustrations your members will relate to.


But what about purpose you might ask? Purpose is a key ingredient in a successful credit union and is one of the Four Ps of business success.


You are probably already familiar with Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk on The Golden Circle or his book Start With Why. This is very appealing to credit unions given the purpose-driven model. However, this is a higher level need. For it to be effective, it must reconcile with the lower order needs in the Maslow hierarchy. Nobody would care about the design philosophy of Apple if the IPhone couldn't hold a SIM Card.


With all the focus on tech and software being a revolutionary force in financial services, it’s easy to lose sight of what your members really care about. All the tech tools in the world won't make up for flawed basics. Technology is a tool to help you deliver on your process. Map your member experience journey first, then decide how technology can support you.


Technology in financial services is now a commodity. It’s the member experience that will set you apart and ensure you thrive in the age of FinTech.

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