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3 posts categorized "January 2012"

January 26, 2012

Focused on the Community: NerdWallet's Top 10 Community CUs.

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by Ron Daly 

Got an interesting link in the mail to an article from a site called NerdWallet. In it, they highlighted ten community credit unions that they felt were doing good work for the people they serve. 

The top ten weren't simply listed, ten-to-one. They were highlighted for specific achievements, such as "Best Business Support", "Most Inclusive", and "Best Loan Assistance Program". 

From the article

Some of these credit unions are community development credit unions that serve low-income and rural communities, while others have an impressive number of financial education classes, grants and scholarships, unique loan products, or other community outreach efforts. If you don’t live within a credit union’s area of membership, you may still be able to invest in their projects or make a donation. If you’re looking to take out a loan, or ditch your bank, consider these credit unions first. Your interest payments will fund community development, not pad shareholders’ pockets.

Did your credit union make the list? What do you think of the list? 

January 18, 2012

Go Ahead, Stay Under the Covers - the Monsters Can Still Get You.

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by Ron Daly 

A while back, the credit union Twittersphere had a conversation about blog comments and whether a blog is really a "blog" if it doesn't allow any feedback. 

"A blog without comments is still a blog, it's all about frequency of posting," some said. "A blog without comments might as well be a static web page," said others. Good examples on either side, but my question was always, "why block comments?" 

So...why block comments? I think I know why. It's because someone might say something bad. 

I've heard a lot of hubbub about "negative feedback" in the past five years. With the emergence of social media and the acceptance of blogging as a medium, people immediately skim over all the basics and jump right in on asking, "What if someone says something negative?" 

What if, indeed? 

The Monsters Are IN the Bed 

The idea of "monsters under the bed" isn't new to any parents out there...we've all had to check for them at some point. We know the truth, but if it makes our little ones feel safer? Sure, we'll check. We'll put in a nightlight, or we'll buy an extra teddy bear. We'll make sleep possible and, hopefully, lasting. 

When the "monsters" are not monsters but are instead an unsatisfied member? Don't worry about them being there or not being there. They're there. There IS a monster there, not under the bed, but in the bed. The question is, do you want to DEAL with the monster or PRETEND it isn't there? 

I think the term of choice for bloggers/social media managers/marketing people who consciously ignore bad feedback or go out of their way to hide it is "tone deaf". I also think there's something really sad about wanting to "go after" commenters or social media users who say something negative. Want to see where that gets  you? Read this story about Boners BBQ attacking someone for leaving a bad Yelp review [ABC News]. 

And while we're on the topic, what about social media from INSIDE the workplace? "We don't want people saying anything that might make us non-compliant!" 

And you manage that...how? Turning off social media? You turn off social media on their network, that's not going to stop anyone from doing something anti-compliant from home or on their phone.

"What if they complain about the credit union or our members?" So, let me get this straight - that's something you DO NOT want to know about, AT ALL? 

Monster Resistant, Not Monster Proof

The truth about business is, you'll never make everyone happy. You'll make some people really happy, you'll be fine with a lot of people, and you'll get a couple of folks good and angry. Getting the angry folks back on your side isn't a matter of just throwing money at them - sometimes, complaints and gripes are solved through careful evaluation. 

Let's run this down: 

  • The complaint is anonymous and full of cuss words - Probably not something you need to burn a lot of energy working on, as it's just some punk playing with your comment fields or being a jerk on Twitter or Facebook. Moving on...
  • The complaint is angry, but seems to be about a genuine problem and has an email address attached - Why not reach out to that person via their email and ask them more about the problem? For every one of these complaints you get, you're probably not hearing several more; this complaint might actually solve a problem you've been overlooking.
  • The complaint is addressing a very specific problem, relative to that member - Then deal with it and follow up with that member, who will be VERY appreciative of your time and attention. 
  • There are sixty complaints, all dealing with the same problem - Odds are, unless you are a top ten credit union with billions and billions in assets, you won't have enough members for this level of feedback. But if you find yourself dealing with a mob scene on your blog, figure out where they're coming from - who's got a good point, who's just gloming on, who's a defender of the brand. 

I think that's the worst part of the decision to completely block out feedback - this idea that you're holding back a tidal wave of negative people saying negative things. We've run this blog for about three years now and we've never had seventy comments to moderate at once. We do moderate, one comment at a time, and we post the ones that meet all our guidelines. Haven't seen our guidelines page? Here it is. Go look at it. That's been here from day one. 

As for social media, we take our own medicine - we use Social Sentry. It tracks social media usage on your office network, public and private, and also tracks public posts from users outside of the office all the time. When I, as the admin, see social media use I don't think is fit for the network, I intervene. When I see an account I want to follow, I follow that account and I get their public feed. I don't spend a lot of time worrying because I stay on top of things. Better than being in the blind, right? 

Managing the expectations and the reactions of members is easy. Just be clear, be consciencious, and be fair. When a problem arises, solve it. But don't think ignoring comments or completely disallowing them will stop people from talking about you. 

Be in charge of your repuation.  

January 11, 2012

Suze Orman gets into the prepaid card game -- and out of the good graces of the CU Industry?

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by Ron Daly 

 Remember a while back when Suze Orman went to bat for the NCUA as an "educator"? She wanted to get the word out about how NCUA served the same function for CUs as the FDIC did for banks. A noble goal, and helpful for those who are confused about what all those letters mean on the bottoms of loan promos and direct mail pieces. It raised the question, "Is Suze Orman the right spokesperson for CUs?" 

Well, it's a false dilemma, really. See, Suze Orman wasn't hired to promote CREDIT UNIONS, she was hired to promote NCUA and their capacity as the insurer of cu deposits. But people read "Suze Orman" and "NCUA" and interpreted that as "Credit Union Spokeswoman".

Which is unfortunate, because Suze Orman just decided to set herself up as a prepaid card magnate. Click here to read about it on US News and World Report's website.

I really don't know how to make heads or tails of this. Sure, Suze Orman has a lot of brand equity, specifically with the "underbanked", but to lend that equity to a prepaid card? She's taken the road the Kardashian sisters weren't able to walk a little over a year ago; the only difference being that Orman actually seems to understand how money works and the Kardashians...well, the less said, the better.

An Associated Press story claims that the aim of the card - which Orman has (reportedly) already pumped $1 million of her own money into in development costs -  is to boost the credit scores of users through a deal with TransUnion. This new breed of credit score would reward users who previously paid for things with cash or other prepaid cards, but Business Insider doesn't seem to think so.

According to the PR Newswire press release, the card comes with "Suze Orman's advice and tips on personal finance," (which are delivered...how?) and is also "insured up to $250,000. The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC". So, there's a bank involved somewhere along the line, but a few steps removed...

I guess the question is, has this move soured your opinion of Suze? Some of the choice tweets on the topic I read over yesterday and today: 

Screen shot 2012-01-11 at 12.53.15 PM

Yes, much has been made of the $3 monthly fee, which is actually low compared to cards like the Kardashian Kard. But a card that preaches better finance management while taking out $3/month to "cover costs"? Would "Pre-Card Suze Orman" approve of that? 

Screen shot 2012-01-11 at 4.12.06 PM
Ron Shevlin from the Aite Group always has great links and thoughtful reads on the topics of the day, and he found one by Ron Lieber in the Times. In it, Orman swears she won't be making much money on the card and certainly doesn't want to be making money off of the "99 percent's backs" (her words). She insists that if the rates increase dramatically, she'll kill off the product. But surely there's some reward for her, considering how much she's already invested...what is it?

Screen shot 2012-01-11 at 12.55.22 PM

This reaction is one of the more damning, in my opinion. Ondine Irving has worked with Suze Orman in the past to get the word out about credit union credit card programs and has been a pretty big Suze Orman "stumper". She's not happy with these new developments. I sense she won't be the only one. 

I'm eager to hear your comments on this in the comment section.