From your next merger opportunity to your ATM locations, from minor items such as debit card designs to what type of coffee you stock in the branches, rest assured your members have plenty of opinions to share. What matters most to the credit union is when they voice them and to whom.
All too often members don't voice important opinions and ideas until the institution has moved forward on a decision or initiative they disagree with. Credit unions have a valuable intermediary in the form of the board, which helps interpret and prioritze the desires of membership and select the right course of action. But even with this fail-safe, there can still be a disconnect between the decision makers and those affected by the decisions.
So how can you proactively collect member feedback and encourage voter participation? Start with these four steps.
1. Make It Easy
Create a dedicated channel for feedback on your homepage. Also consider sites like SurveyMonkey, which let you serve up customizable question sets and distribute them quickly and easily via email. Members might not seek out opportunities to be heard, so when possible, bring the discussion to them.
2. Don’t Just Listen, Do
Members are more likely to participate if they see some tangible benefit. Video game maker Valve recently launched a project called Steam Greenlight where consumers pay $100 to vote for the company’s next big project. Incredibly, people pay and Steam shows them the results of their votes. Since this summer, the company has created more than new 50 games and software solutions based on voter feedback.
3. Think Carrot, Not Stick
Average voter turnout is higher in both Central and South America than in the United States, largely because 13 countries there require it by law. But instead of demanding member participation, try incentivizing it with small carrots such as waiving a certain fee or offering a minor rate reduction.
4. If You Lose, Lose Gracefully
In some cases, general opinion might reveal member preference is not in line with what management or the board believes is the right direction.
Consider Facebook. Last week the social media giant held an online vote asking users their opinion on whether it should share data with potential advertisers (something users have long complained about) and eliminate user voting on future company decisions.
The vast majority of the 668,000 respondents voted against these measures. But because less than 30% of Facebook's 1 billion users worldwide voted, the company declared the vote invalid and auto passed the measure, reports FastCompany. Sure, getting what you want is great. But sacrificing what really matters to get it is another story.