Three months ago, we at Unitus Community Credit Union began a program of publishing and broadcasting member stories. These were accounts from individual members of their good experiences with the credit union. We have found that these member stories are a powerful medium for conveying to persons in the community that the credit union has been exceptionally valuable to persons who have joined and thus can likely also be to those who choose to join.
This effort had several spring points. One was our monthly all-staff meeting. Naturally, we discussed numbers of issues, but we also decided to read aloud any recent cards, letters or emails we had received from members commending good service. Some of these were really great. Members had taken the time to write these and commend the credit union or certain employees. I, who came from the for-profit financial services world, in particular was amazed. Where I had worked before, it was very rare to receive these kinds of letters. But here members clearly loved their credit union and were not shy about saying so.
The second spring point was a brainstorming session we had with the local radio station we partnered with. There the idea for “ True Stories that Unitus ” blossomed. As a part of the overall campaign, the local radio host became a member and then talked about her experience on the radio and how much she enjoyed the credit union.
Another part of the campaign involved our employees. We began broadcasting quick stories from them about why they were proud to be working for Unitus. These were stories about how they went the extra mile to do exceptional service for members. One was a story of an employee who drove cash to a woman just released from the emergency room but did not have the money or the debit card to make her co-payment to the hospital.
The radio show stimulated some members to call up and say how they had received outstanding service or otherwise appreciated being a Unitus member. So we developed the idea of having members go to a link at our website and type in – up to 250 words – their stories.
The radio personality was soon encouraging listeners to submit their stories. Some story-submitters liked the idea and recorded them for radio broadcast; others were willing so long as someone else did the actual recording. And it's at this website that anyone can read members' submitted stories – all are posted and viewable.
Stories that Resonate
This campaign of personal testimonials is rather new and it is too early to judge its impact with any certainty, but it is very clear from these stories that we have a culture at Unitus setting us apart from other local financial services institutions. We believe that when non-members hear or read these stories, they will understand that Unitus is the best financial services institution in the area, and that they will find a way to our door.
Unitus Community Credit Union began as Oregon Telephone Employees Credit Union in 1937 and was later known as Oregon Telco Credit Union. It now serves anyone living in seven counties in northwest Oregon . It has approximately 60,000 members and $675 million in assets. Leslie Kresl joined the Unitus management team three and half years ago and helped the credit union re-brand itself after changing its name to Unitus.