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12 posts categorized "Email"

July 16, 2014

I don't know where you are...but I know where you AREN'T.

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by Ron Daly

I don't have spy satellites. I don't have access to your GPS. I'm not the NSA, nor am I Google, nor am I any other intelligence gathering agency, public or private.

I don't know where you are...but I know where you aren't.

The other day, an email campaign was sent from our marketing team to a group of subscribers in my name. Naturally, I got all of the "out of office" replies. In came a flood of three hundred emails from people who were anywhere but near their computer.

As I sat there, my eyes spinning from all the out-of-offices, I wondered how much I could learn from all the information contained therein. Naturally, I know these people aren't in the office (or don't know how to turn off their automatic reply). But what else can I learn?

  • I can learn when these out-of-officers are supposed to be back in the office, in most cases. (Ex: "I will be out until July 18, 2014.")

  • I can learn who their nearest counterpart is. ("If you need anything in the meantime, please contact Trish Fisherwisher, at tfisherwisher@example.email.")

  • If I take a step back and look at the frequency of OOO replies for a weekly email, I can get an idea of when the average credit union employee is on vacation.

  • I know the addresses I have are active and working.

Those are three interesting pieces of information in my line of work. The campaign we sent wasn't time or info sensitive, but let's say I want to be sure that everyone gets a look at it. I know these addresses are good, I know when these people will be back in the office and I know who else to reach out to if it is something time-sensitive. All I really need to do is take a few minutes, mark the recipients in the list that are out of office and get back to them in a few weeks when they're back at work. Why not take this limited-but-useful data and do something with it?

I look forward to your opinions on this...in a few weeks, when you get back from the beach.

December 20, 2013

The Gifts You Give in Seconds are the Best Gifts of All

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by Ron Daly

Uh-oh, gang. I forgot to get a few gifts this year. Which is to say, all of them.

That's right, I took my own advice, skipped Black Friday, and didn't get a single present for anyone on my gift list. What on earth should I do now?!

I got it. I'll give them the Internet.

Well, no, not "the Internet". I'm just going to give my friends something digital instead of something physical. It's easier than ever to give someone a thoughtful gift that needs no wrapping, no exchanging and no batteries.

Let's start with...

• My Favorite TV Junkie: 

For the couch potato who has everything, here's a gift subscription to Netflix. Now they can watch TV all day long from any device or from the comfort of their living room.

• My Friend, The Frequent Flier:

I have friends that love to travel. Several airlines will let you buy miles for someone else. Even if you can't give them a full trip, you can take the sting out of their next outing by giving them a few thousand miles for a reasonable price.

• My Cousin, the Shop-aholic:

There are plenty of people, like my cousin, who thrill at the act of shopping more than the actual gifts on the other end. For her, an Amazon Gift Card that is applied automatically. She can shop til she drops, and in seconds.

• My Friend "Forgetful Frida"

Poor, poor Frida. She can't remember anything! That's why I treated her to Evernote Premium, a service that saves web pages, articles and images in a snap from your iPad, computer or phone. Hopefully she can use it to remember my gift.

• My neighbor, who's still not a credit union member

The poor guy...he just won't get with it! Fortunately, my credit union is offering a "refer a friend" program that gives me a bonus when he signs up. I'm adding a member to my credit union, getting $10 and helping a friend. It's a three-for-one!

• For Anyone, and For a Good Cause

This time of year, I think about our soldiers a lot. Even after they get home, they often need our help to recover, readjust and move forward. If you want to give a gift that will benefit the giver, the recipient, and a veteran, consider giving a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project. Use this form to give a gift in someone's name to this very worthy cause.

Phew! Now that my shopping's all taken care of, I can get back to my favorite holiday pastime: putting up my inflatable lawn ornaments and showing up my neighbors for our block's Christmas decoration content.

Merry Christmas from the CU Soapbox!

October 09, 2013

Stamps for $1? Sure, I'm In.

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by Ron Daly

What can you really buy for a dollar these days?

I did an informal survey (which is to say, I looked at the prices of a few things I buy from day to day), and you'd be surprised how far a dollar goes...or doesn't go.

I can buy: 

  • A can of soda, or
  • A trip down the express lanes from my home to my office, or
  • A copy of the paper, or
  • An older song on iTunes (the newer ones are more than a buck), or
  • Something from the dollar menu at McDonald's, assuming I can scrounge up a dime for the taxes.

There aren't a lot of things that cost one thin dollar. There are even fewer things that cost under a dollar. Everything's "99¢", the biggest double-whammy ever pulled in advertising. "Hey, it's pennies a day!" Yes, 99 of them.

I rarely suggest that things that are cheaper than a dollar should cost a dollar, but do you want to know one thing I think is worth a buck? A postage stamp.

Think about it. What should it cost to send a letter or a card or even a small package all the way across the country, or around the corner? If you wanted to send that stuff privately (via UPS or FedEx), it would cost more than a dollar. The Post Office does a good job of moving thousands of millions of letters and bills and papers and packages all over the country. But they're hurting and they've lost quite a bit of money in the past few years (all well documented here). They want to increase stamp prices again, to $0.49, a move that has some businesses and "concerned citizens" up in arms. "Outrageous!" they cry. "Stamps need to be affordable!" 

Don't argue that to Rick Newman. He says stamps should cost $1 each. His reasoning:

So hiking the price of a stamp to $1 seems like a straightforward way to align the agency’s costs with its expenses and save Congress the trouble of turning out a few members every now and then to listen to the Postal Service’s familiar tale of woe. The Postal Service says a mere three-cent hike in the cost of a stamp will raise $2 billion per year, so going all the way up to a buck ought to raise many billions more, even accounting for the decline in mail volume that's been occurring, plus the dropoff in sales that usually comes with higher prices. All told, those extra billions ought to more than cover the huge annual losses now expected.

If there’s concern about fixed-income seniors or other customers who might not be able to afford a dollar for every letter they mail, Congress could make postage costs tax deductible for heavy mailers below a certain income threshold, which would let the USPS off the hook and make the whole thing Congress's problem.

Postage increases fixing income troubles? Less mail? Blaming Congress? I'm in!

A dollar's not a lot of money, sadly. It doesn't buy a lot. But going back to my original question: how much would you pay for a person to hand-deliver a letter to your home? A dollar's a great value, honestly. And when it comes to serious mailers, one of two things will happen: 

  1. People who relied on the mail will start to move toward electronic payment and delivery methods, which is good for the environment and for business.
  2. The people who insist on sending paper mail (and especially those pesky junk mailers) will pay through the nose to keep it going.

What do you think? Would you pay $1 to mail a letter? Let us know about it in the comment section.

 

March 20, 2013

eManners: What Does "Polite" Look Like Nowadays?

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by Ron Daly 

It's always interesting to read an article that challenges convention, then see the blow-back from that article, then see the author's response to the blow-back. With so much media to manage these days, conversations and commentary come out of the woodwork. If they don't reply on your blog, they'll reply on their blog. Or on Twitter. Or on Facebook. Or by phone. Or right up in your face. 

Take, for instance, this opinion piece by Nick Bilton in the New York Times. It's a piece that rails against the "Thank You!" email, the voice mail where a text message should go, the use of friends to answer a question that's made for Google. 

Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?

Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?

As you might expect, the lament of a 36-year-old super-geek didn't sit well with readers, many of whom are from a generation removed - one that emphasized penmanship, greeting cards and always saying "please" and "thank you". 

Do I really care about "Thank You" emails? No, not really. They're nice to get, and if they have more information or want to continue a conversation, why not? But I'm not going to lose sleep, nor should anyone looking for a reply from me be upset if I just move forward with the next steps after I get an email with an "action item". 

Bilton again, with a worthwhile consideration: 

How to handle these differing standards? Easy: think of your audience. Some people, especially older ones, appreciate a thank-you message. Others, like me, want no reply. “It is important to think about who the relationship is with,” Mr. [Daniel Post] Senning said.

Audience, audience, audience. The number one consideration in marketing, business, sales, collections, consultations, etc. You have to remember to whom you're talking. 

Based on the reactions he got, you might think Mr. Bilton hasn't considered his audience's reaction. Spoiler alert: they got mad. They called Bilton a "sociopath" (no, really), irrational, impatient, sad...they really didn't like the idea that he didn't want to talk to his mother directly, but rather via Twitter. Bilton later explained that his mother lives in England and, as a San Francisco resident, he couldn't call her at any hour that was convenient for both of them, so they rely on Twitter to fill in the gaps. He talks about how he does, in fact, hand-write thank you notes to friends and relations. But too late - the audience had made up their minds.

Bilton says he doesn't mind being "the punching bag" for people his age. He did lament, however, the extremes people go to when they react to something they don't like. They talk about how disgustingly disconnected from reality he must be to dislike a "thank you" message. Bilton replies that the stewards of Emily Post's legacy of good manners insist that, yes, you should consider the audience when crafting a reply. Some people will love a "thanks!", some won't. Some people will want a voice mail, some will just delete it. 

And then Bilton made a really terrific point about who trains whom in our culture. It used to be that older people taught younger people everything. As technology advances and people develop skills at different ages, it's clear that education moves in two directions: up and down the years, each generation having something to offer the other. 

I had to learn to text if I wanted to get an answer to a simple question out of my kids. My younger employees come to me if they want my input about business or finance. We have many ways of communicating and we all have things we need to get done, so we all have to adjust our methods from time to time to make it work. 

Now...let's talk about "what you've always done" and member communication. 

The truth is, things change. People want to converse and conduct business in different ways, and the methods they use are changing all the time. But in embracing changes, consider the audience's reaction to your messages. Maybe one group really loves hearing from you every month. Maybe one group wants a phone call every once in a while. Maybe there are outliers - people who have adopted new ways of handling all of their inputs and have rolled with the changes. 

Pay attention. Knowing how to talk to people is critical to a credit union marketer/manager's livelihood. Knowing when to say something and what to say is so important, and just as important, knowing when to quit talking and let people get back to their lives. 

My Pet Peeve: When you use an online chat or a toll-free line for customer support and people keep pushing the script on you when you've made it very clear that you're done. 

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Me (in my brain): "Are you not listening? Or are you just forced to do this, like a robot?"

Me: "No, that's it."

Them: "Okay, thank you for calling our help line. You can reach us online any time at www..."

Me (in my brain again): "Come ON, just say goodbye and hang up the phone."

I like dealing with people, not people ordered to act like a computer. Here's my dream customer service call.

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all I needed."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly. Have a good afternoon."

Me: "Okay, bye!"

I've had maybe three of these calls in my life. And I make a lot of calls. 

All it takes is a little listening. People unsubscribe from your newsletter? Fine, but make a note of that. Don't chalk it up as "this person's not interested"...find a way into their lives that works for them and you. It exists, I'm sure. 

And when they talk, listen. And when they reply, read it thoroughly. And when they care, you should care, too. 

Don't let technology fool you into thinking that etiquette and thoughtfulness don't mean anything, to any given age group. Treat members with respect and you'll earn theirs. 

And for what it's worth? You should call your mom on the phone. Unless she's totally into Facebook now. 

January 29, 2013

A Penny Saved is…Still Not Enough to Save the Post Office

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by Ron Daly 

Well, my plan to invest my retirement in forever stamps is paying off nicely.

Yesterday, the United States Postal Service increased the price of a stamp to $0.46. The rest of the postage prices jumped, too, but it's good news if you've got a bunch of forever stamps sitting around - they're gaining value all the time. 

The USPS has the right idea - postage prices should increase, considering the fact that letter volume's dropping the way it is (heading to about 150 billion pieces of mail - seems like a lot, but that's actually waaaay down). And, lest we forget, the post office is bleeding about $25 million every day according to the postmaster general. Some estimate they'll be out of money and out of service in the next six months to a year. Will a penny more per mailed letter really save them? No, but it's better than standing still. 

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman...

In 2006, the USPS turned a $900 million dollar profit - yeah, you read that correctly. A profit. Hard to believe about an organization that in 2012 lost $16 billion. Where's all that money going? Is the sharp drop-off in mail volume to blame? Is it all the Postal Service's fault?

No, it isn't. As with just about everything these days, you can blame Congress. 

See, 2006 was the year Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to fund pensions through the next 75 years. I can tell you, this is unheard of in business - nobody's shoring up that much cash to pay employee pensions. Nobody. It's suspected that $11 billion of that $16 billion lost in 2012 went to pension funds and labor. Add to that the fact that mail volume's dropping off and Congress has been inflexible on the idea of killing off Saturday delivery (a measure that could save the USPS about $2 billion annually), the USPS has been fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

So, what's the solution?

There are plenty of people nationwide who are eager to see the post office saved for future generations. This Esquire article goes in-depth about the problem's the USPS is facing and how a complete dissolution of the entire postal service would be a blow to the American way of life. There's a new petition on WhiteHouse.gov to "save the postal service". But how to save it?

One possible way out? Undo the curse of the pre-funded pensions and let the money in that fund be dispersed to the post offices and carriers that need it. But that would require Congress's action in undoing what's been done. 

Congress? Action? Hmm...what's our other option? 

Oh, right...a taxpayer funded bailout. Taxpayers would fund the pension program and alleviate the post office's responsibilities. 

Feel like bailing out one more industry that can't handle the future? 

And speaking of the future...how bad off would USPS retirees be without the pensions in question? 

Not that bad, says Jen Wieczner at SmartMoney

Despite the Postal Service's debt, its retiree benefit coffers are beyond full. Its pension funds are more than 100% funded, compared with 42% for all federal pension funds and 80% for the average Fortune 1000 pension plan. That "astonishingly high figure," according to Williams, amounts to a "war chest" of resources that will take care of older workers for decades to come. 

So either way, it comes down to Congress. Keep your eyes peeled, there'll be a brouhaha on the Hill about all this, likely before the summer rolls in.

And in the meantime, what should you be doing, oh weary credit union marketer? 

The Broken Window Problem

You might be thinking, "yes, let's save the post office - we'll send out more mail!" It turns into the old Broken Window Fallacy - someone breaks a window, the window gets replaced for a certain cost, everyone starts a window repair business, and then all of a sudden...no broken windows. So what do people do? Start breaking windows to save the window repair businesses. 

It's wasteful and stupid. And so is trying to inject more mail into a beleaguered system because you feel bad about its shortcomings. When Western Union announced it would stop delivering telegrams, where did all the protests occur? Where was the petition saying an outmoded form of communication must be saved? 

I like my postal carrier. I like getting a letter every so often. But I don't walk around with 400 pieces of mail in my pocket every day. I do walk around with a small, touch screen computer that manages all my email, sends me text messages and even places phone calls. 

Now, let's look at credit unions. In a time when many CUs are closing their doors or getting merged, who can afford to overlook the significant cost savings that come from online banking, online account opening, eStatements, electronic bill pay, debit cards...the list goes on, but I get the sense I'm not telling you anything new. 

We started  DigitalMailer 13 years ago because we knew that the two things credit unions really want (operationally speaking) are to A) generate revenue and B) cut costs. You can't do that when you're chained to the giant rock of printing and postage. We've delivered close to 60 million eStatements over the years. At $0.46 saved per eStatement, that's $27.6 million that would go out of the pocket of the Post Office (sorry we're not sorry) and back into the pockets of the credit unions we serve. We've created products like One-Click Enrollment to help make that transition easy, and most eStatement converts never look back. Promoting education and organization to members through online account and document management is part of the greater mission of credit unions.

Heed that call and stop worrying about whether or not the Postal Service can survive. It'll take a fight with Congress, but it can be done. And even when it is, don't be surprised if the USPS still cries foul at the drop in volume. They had the chance to latch on to emerging technologies and ignored it, favoring the old ways instead of a new path to profitability. They didn't take it. 

Time for you to consider that new path for yourself. We're famous for avoiding bailouts. 

As for me, I hope postage jumps to $1 - my all-forever-stamp portfolio is looking better and better.

January 04, 2013

The First "Duh of the Week" of 2013 is One for the Record Books

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by Ron Daly 

Ever bite down on your tongue while you're eating a lemon? It's a double-whammy of pain. There's the acidic burn of the lemon juice and the "yow that smarts" of cutting your tongue with your teeth. The thought of it is enough to make you wince. 

It's one of those blunders that you could have avoided in a few different ways. For one, stop eating lemons, you weirdo. For two, chew more thoroughly. You've got no one to blame but yourself. 

The first "Duh of the Week" has a lot in common with this twofer of pain - it's something that could have been avoided and it's easily the stupidest combination of dumb ideas I've ever heard.

A Portland-area teen...

  1. drove home drunk from New Year's Eve, then 
  2. told everyone about it on Facebook.

What a dumb move. For starters, he drives home drunk (under-aged, mind you), hitting TWO PARKED CARS in the process. As if that wasn't enough of a bonehead move, he POSTED ABOUT IT ON FACEBOOK, complete with a little winky-face emoticon. 

If you have young people in your home, now's the time to have "the talk" with them.

  • Sit them down. 
  • Tell them you love them. 
  • Explain that if they need a ride, you'll come get them, no matter the situation.
  • Tell them they should never ride in a car with a drunk driver.

    And lastly...
  • Gently remind them how hard you're going to kick their butt if they ever do something this idiotic. 
Drunk driving kills people, and when it doesn't, it can cause untold damage of another kind. The last thing your kids should ever want to do is drink and drive, and the second-to-last thing they should ever want to do is brag about it on a social network

Kudos to the thoughtful Facebook followers who informed the police and got him booked for his idiotic crime. Maybe now, he'll be sending a status update: 

"In jail :( Not as fun as I though it would be..."

Are your employees behaving resposibly on social media? Is the person in charge of your Facebook account making the right decisions?  How sure can you be about all that? Time to start that long-awaited social media policy, maybe? Maybe employees can use "the talk", too.

Comments always welcome. Happy 2013 to everyone!

August 22, 2012

GUEST POST: The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

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by Jimmy Marks

872

[Ron Daly is on vacation, so Jimmy is here to share his thoughts on the aggressive, obsessive, invasive method of post-sale satisfaction some people think of as "follow-up".]

I don't normally go in for memes. Some of them are funny, but usually, they get all the "juice" squeezed out of them a few days after they first appear. I don't think I need one more "Call Me Maybe" parody, ever. Matter of fact, I don't think I want to hear "Call Me Maybe" anymore, full stop. 

But "Overly Attached Girlfriend" was really funny. This creepy, bug-eyed caricature of an obsessed stalker (A young lady named Laina Walker who did this as a joke) took over the Internet for a few weeks and gave birth to a few "splinter-memes" and follow-ups. 

We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances. 

Or, in some cases, marketers.

Too often, marketers will create "follow-up" campaigns with no end-date in sight. You go to get your oil changed and the service center calls the next day to make sure everything went well. Thoughtful, right? But then, they send an email. Then, they send a message from the manager. Then, they send you pictures of the inside of your kitchen. What?! How'd they get in there?

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it is annoying to be unrelentingly thanked by a company and begged for more business. Even worse, getting an email that says "Where have you been? We've missed you." It's just plain creepy. Why should my dry-cleaner care what I'm doing? 

I'm not the only one that thinks so. Take this article from Target Marketing titled "Famous Last Words: 'Stop Touching Me!'":

I don't know when various follow-ups came into the picture—the tracking number and the shipping advice from UPS. But I don't mind these "touches" from a supplier. When I order special dog food from PetFoodDirect.com for my 15-year-old Auggie or hulled sunflower seeds for my winter bird feeder from ebirdseed.com, I am comforted to know that my little four-legged and feathered friends will definitely be seen to in a timely manner.

These purveyors want me to know that they really, really care, and I appreciate that...

But...

What you do not want is for your customers and prospects to be so fed up with your intrusions that they...tell their friends what a pain in the *** you are and put you into their spam filters.

So, how do you know when you've "cared enough"? I think this article hits it right on the head - only contact people when you have something interesting or pertinent to say. "Just saying hi" is something your great aunt does when she calls you on the phone. Don't disappear from the consumer's field of vision, but as in all things, know your audience and have something relevant and useful to offer. Make every contact with a purpose in mind and always, always, always, make it meaningful for the member. 

Onboarding campaigns have helped many of DigitalMailer's clients. It's a simple, smart way to get people involved with the credit union, a "crash course" in the basics of the new member's relationship. But an onboarding campaign doesn't go on for more than a few emails in the span of a few weeks. After that, contacts should be occasional, and with purpose. 

Now, you're going to deal with a few people that don't want any email at all and a few that want an email every day. There are ways to meet both of those needs. If you do your job correctly, you'll only be sending people things that are relevant, useful, and welcome. 

Don't be the "Overly Attached Marketer" - let the member breathe. Use those points of contact wisely and don't overdo it. 

March 28, 2012

Attack of the Bloated Mailbox: The USPS Wants More Direct Mail - Should You?

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by Ron Daly

We've all heard about the troubles the postal service has faced these last few years. The recently reported loss of $5.1 Billion in 2011 doesn't give one much hope that the ailing institution can survive, but they're not going down without a fight. 

The USPS is making a push to get more merchants involved in direct mail campaigns. They're incentivising the prices for a product called "Every Door Direct Mail". They don't need your name or address - the pieces go to every mailbox in a given zip code. The USPS is hoping to make at least $750 million in revenue...that's roughly 14% of what it lost last year. 

So, what you have is a product that's cluttering up mailboxes for everyone, unsolicited, that's going to generate millions in revenue for an organization billions in the hole.

And where's the consumer in all this? Can they opt-out of mailings they didn't ask for anyway? Do we not have a choice in the matter? 

Now, obviously, I'm biased - for twelve years, I've been preaching a reduction in wasteful paper in every area of the credit union. But even as a consumer, this is disappointing. I could go without a Saturday delivery if it meant not getting a mailbox filled to the brim with coupons I won't use. And yes, "couponing" is a popular hobby, but even those people with shopping carts full of deoderant and beef jerky can't possibly need this many extra coupons...can they? 

Beware of the bloated mailbox. There may not be anything we can do to stop it. 

February 02, 2012

Everybody's Reviewing It! Why Gen-Y Depends on Other People's Opinions Online

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by Ron Daly 

Ah, Gen-Y - the "El Dorado" of marketing demographics. People are hazy about where they are, what they do, and the richness of the treasures they possess. And after about five years of hearing how critical it is to win over the Gen-Y crowd, we get a little insight into how they buy and behave with their money.

One of the critical things a business (or credit union?) must do, according to a study done by Bazaarvoice, is point Millennials to user reviews (which they describe as "user generated content", or "UGC"). The opinions of other online users of a product or service weight heavy, particularly with regards to electronics. They're more eager to hear from people with "relevant experience" and they're three times as likely as the Baby Boomers to ask for people's opinions on a social media network. 

Why would the opinion of someone a Gen-Yer has never met mean more than their real-world friends and family? Well, in the real world, maybe not. If someone runs up to you on the street and screams "BUY AN iPHONE!", it might not make you break out your wallet right then and there. But when Bazaarvoice means "stranger", I'm pretty sure they mean a "reviewer". And what does a review have? 

  • A star rating - Quick and easy. If there are five possible stars and three of those stars are filled, that's a metric. There are typically a row of those stars followed by a number in parentheses indicating how MANY people have responded/rated that product. If a product has four-of-five stars and a thousand reviewers, well, that product is probably pretty good.
  • Short write-ups - A short review says a heck of a lot. If it's thoughtful and fully formed, it tells you the reviewer took their time and is a smart, well-informed consumer. If it says "Dis produkt is h0rrible, teh wackness"? That person's probably not so trustworthy. 
  • A link back to more information - Some online channels will give you permission to see other things that reviewers have reviewed on that site. This helps you figure out whether a person is ALWAYS negative or just negative about the thing you want to buy. 

Online reviews are interesting and helpful because not only are you evaluating a product, you're evaluating its users. But you don't see a lot of online reviews on a CU's website, do you? At least, I don't. 

Why is that? 

According to that same study (presented in a friendly little infographic on this site), 29% of millenials won't make a decision about credit cards or insurance without feedback from other users. Maybe more important: 

"Most Millennials say companies that include customer feedback on their websites are "honest" (66%) and "credible" (53%). "

Pretty great first impression, right? Think that could work for CUs? Who's willing to start this out? We know of a few CUs over on Facebook that let Facebook users review their products, but who's going to up the ante and include a place for reviews on their actual website? Is some CU out there already doing it? 

And before you go on about how you want to manage all your content and control every aspect of your "online presence", consider that over six hundred thousand people in the US moved their money in the past three months and attributed that switch to Bank Transfer Day, an online event that largely happened TO credit unions, not BECAUSE of them. 

Food for thought. 

Want to "review" this article? Have some insight? Talk to us in the comment section. 

 

 

December 07, 2011

The Pony Express Returns! -or- Why Electronic Delivery Makes More Sense Than Ever

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by Ron Daly 

Nostalgia is bringing back some interesting things nowadays. The Smurfs are in my DVD player (my daughter's choice, not mine), the Muppets are back in theaters, and I could swear I've seen the New Kids on the Block on TV recently. Everything old is new again. 

Which is why the post office is returning to delivering mail via pony. Yes, the USPS has invested what's left of its money in the purchase and upkeep of a fleet of ponies to deliver the mail that keeps our country moving. Yes, it will take longer to get your mail. Yes, rates are going to increase. But hey, at least you get to pet a pony once in a while? 

...Huh. Wait a second. I think I have my facts wrong. Service on first-class mail is going to slow down, and postage is going up, but...no ponies? No, the USPS is just gumming up the works as a cost-saving measure. According to the video below, they lost $4 billion in the last year, they've got to stem the loss of funds somehow.

[Can't access the video? Click here to watch it on the Today show site.]

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I guess we've played a part in their trouble...in the past ten years, we've delivered more than 27 million eStatements for financial institutions across the country.  

Is the American postal system dead? No, it still has its place. And it's pretty impressive that you can send a letter from anywhere to anywhere else in the U.S. for 45 cents. But as any project manager, CEO or business pro can tell you, the three choices are "good, fast, cheap", and you can only pick two. You want it good and cheap? You can't get it fast. You want it good and fast? You can't have it cheap. You want it fast and cheap? You can forget about quality. You just can't have it all.

...or can you?

For month-to-month statements and daily notices, encouraging members to switch to e-delivery means you can hold all three corners of the triangle at once. Think about it:

  • Good - eStatements and notices can be presented in a way that's identical to printed statements and notices. You don't sacrifice the "look" or readability and the e-docs are compliant with all regs (ours are, anyway). 
  • Fast - electronic documents are processed on your schedule and are available whenever members want them. Just send them an email and they can log in to a secure host that shows them an archive of docs that they can print out for themselves (if they want), or just keep online to reduce clutter. 
  • Cheap - Printed, mailed documents cost a minumum $.44  .45 cents - you're already saving  that much per user, and that's not even counting what you save in printing and paper costs. With the right company and the right e-documents model (ahem), the MORE e-document users you have, the LESS you pay per statement/notice. What's not to love?

We've been saying it for years and, by George, we keep getting it right; the Post Office's business model can't sustain cheap, speedy, quality delivery. They don't have a war chest to help with the cost - they have to charge more. But e-documents? They've been the same price for a good long while now and they keep providing the same benefits. It's easy to get more members using eStatements - the hard part is not kicking yourself when you see what a HUGE difference it can make on your bottom line!

The truth is, there are very few - if any - documents that used to go in the mail that can't be sent and stored online. Need to get more electronic document users at your business? Click here to get in touch with me. Just ask for Ron!