Twelve Steps to Bonding with Your Members

Unlike traditional banks, credit unions have a mission to serve their members, not shareholders. This fundamental difference makes building solid and lasting relationships with their members possible. To make members love their credit union, focusing on delivering exceptional service, fostering trust, and offering financial products that meet their needs is essential. Below, I will explore key strategies credit unions can implement to cultivate member loyalty.

  1. Personalized Service: One of the primary ways credit unions can win members’ hearts is by offering personalized service. Building a rapport with members, addressing them by name, and getting to know their financial goals and challenges are vital. Still, we also need to learn how to think for the members, not just take orders by learning what they want or need, not just do what they ask us to do. Every member should feel heard, valued, and understood as a unique person, not just an account number.
  2. Competitive Rates: Financial products are at the core of a credit union’s offerings. Credit unions must provide competitive interest rates on savings accounts, certificates, loans, and credit cards to earn members’ love. Moreover, keeping fees low and transparent helps members trust the credit union and feel their finances are in good hands.
  3. Financial Literacy: An informed member is a happy member, but even more importantly, credit unions need to understand the circle of prosperity; as the membership succeeds, the credit union succeeds. Credit unions should actively engage in financial education efforts, offering workshops, seminars, and online resources to help members make informed decisions about their money as they transition through life’s ups and downs. Empowering members with financial knowledge builds trust in the credit union as a reliable financial partner.
  4. Technology and Convenience: Technology and convenience are paramount in today’s digital age. Credit unions must invest in user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms that offer a seamless experience that is as friction-free as legally possible. Moreover, robust security measures should be in place to protect members’ personal, non-public information. Access to a widespread network of ATMs and shared branching services also adds to the convenience factor. One of credit unions’ secret strengths is their willingness and ability to cooperate with each other in serving their members.
  5. Rewards and Incentives: Credit unions can incentivize member loyalty through rewards programs. Offer cashback rewards, discounts, or special offers on financial products and services. These perks attract new members and encourage existing ones to stay. There is an opportunity to understand the cost of acquisition versus retention and determine how to use that difference to retain the member the credit union wants.
  6. Community Involvement: Credit unions have a unique opportunity to engage with their communities. Sponsoring local initiatives, participating in charitable organizations and their events, and supporting community causes make a positive impact and showcase the credit union’s commitment to social responsibility.
  7. Transparent Communications: Open and honest communication is essential in building trust. Credit unions should regularly update members about the institution’s financial health, performance, policy changes, and fees. Seeking member feedback through surveys and advisory groups demonstrates a commitment to transparency. Hearing from members and prospects is vital when deciding plans, services, products, or fees that impact the membership.
  8. Member Feedback and Involvement: Actively seek input from members. Establish avenues for them to provide feedback through surveys, suggestion boxes, or member advisory groups. Involve members in decision-making processes and governance, helping them realize their ownership in the credit union and how that differentiates it from publicly traded financial institutions.
  9. Financial Assistance and Flexibility: Financial challenges can happen to anyone. Credit unions can set themselves apart by offering hardship programs and flexible loan repayment options to assist members during difficult times. Providing solutions tailored to individual needs shows empathy and support.
  10. Social Media and Online Presence: Maintaining an active and engaging presence on social media platforms is essential for staying connected with members. Share informative content, financial tips, and updates to keep members informed and engaged. Try to avoid using social media for constant product pitches. Balance your product offers with financial and lifestyle information that consumers can use. That balance should ideally be three wellness topics for every product offer.
  11. Continual Improvement: Credit unions should continually assess and improve their products and services based on member feedback and industry trends. Investing in employee training and development ensures staff continuity and that customer service remains top-notch.
  12. Create a Strong Sense of Community: Building a sense of belonging is essential. Foster a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere within the credit union and organize member events, networking opportunities, or affinity groups to strengthen the community spirit.

In a world where financial institutions often prioritize profit over people, credit unions have a unique opportunity to shine by focusing on their members’ needs and building strong, lasting relationships. By offering personalized service, competitive rates, financial education, a desire to help their members on their life journey, and a commitment to their communities, credit unions can make their members love them and establish themselves as trusted partners in financial well-being. Every bank on every corner can provide financial solutions; building member loyalty is about creating a sense of belonging and trust beyond banking.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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