Editor’s Note – Welcome to “Leaders Talk with Dave Hall” a series of interviews posted every third Wednesday of the month here on the DMG blog. The series features experienced business writer Dave Hall interviewing an incredible line-up of DMG clients, giving you an inside look on what makes them tick. The questions will surround their success, their experience in their sector and the type of characteristics that drive them to be leaders in our community.
Last month we featured Business Development & Community Relations Manager Kelowna International Airport, Jenelle Hynes. This month we’ll get the inside scoop from Marketing Manager of the Motor City Community Credit Union, Becky Langlois.
Are there any unique challenges in operating a company in the highly-competitive financial sector?
BL: Our biggest challenge is differentiating ourselves from other financial institutions since we all offer essentially the same services. We are perceived to be smaller because we don’t have a ton of branches but that is also one of our personal service strengths. You can compete on the basis of price or on the basis of service and we prefer to compete on services which are often harder to market. We have a huge level of loyalty from our established members and the challenge is to attract a young clientele.
What are your institutions key strategies for attracting and retaining clients?
BL: We have made a conscious effort to attract new clients by being as visible as we possibly can in the community. We also offer preferential rates to attract new clients but we will then offer those same rates and services to our current members. We will not disadvantage our current members by offering better rates to new clients.
What are the most important customer services tips you can offer?
BL: In our branches, we take a four-pronged approach. First is a prompt greeting to everyone visiting or calling the branch. Second is asking open-ended questions and listening to the answers so we can determine what issues our clients are facing. Third is offering solutions which best fit the client’s needs and finally, we keep in touch. We find ways to keep in touch which we hope makes renewing their relationship with us as seamless as possible.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about credit unions?
BL: The two most common are that we don’t provide full banking services and that we aren’t open to everyone. Neither is true. It may have been the case in the past with credit unions but today we offer the same services and we are open to anyone who wishes to join.
How important is community involvement and how is it encouraged at MCCCU?
BL: It’s of paramount importance to us. We want to be visible in the community because we are the grassroots credit union in Windsor. Others may be bigger but we are grassroots. One of our newer employees recently made the point that she was pleasantly surprised at how much involvement we have in the community and that it is nice to work for a company so well known for its constant support of local causes. We have a presence at as many events as possible, we provide sponsorships, we support local organizations and our employees donate their time to many of these activities.
How is important is financial literacy?
BL: We believe it is very important and we have just renewed a partnership with Junior Achievement which enables us to offer two-day courses to grade 7 students in schools across Windsor. We are committed to providing these courses in eight schools this year and plan to continue into the future. The courses include information on credit, credit ratings and debt which we believe are important issues which are not covered in schools.
How have you been able to establish a corporate culture and strengthen your brand?
BL: We realize our name – MCCCU – is a mouthful but we will not give up the middle C because it is a reminder to everyone that we are a community credit union. We recently went through a very helpful branding process with Douglas Marketing which reminded us that our strength is in how we present ourselves to the community and how we are community-focused in everything we do.
How important is social media to your company?
BL: It’s very important and we have recently hired someone whose responsibility is to maintain our social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. We were the first local financial institution to use Facebook. We also provide information via Twitter because we recognize that if we are to attract a younger demographic to our financial institution, we have to expand the ways we communicate with potential new clients.
How important is technology to your institution?
BL: It is extremely important because technology is changing the way everyone conducts business. We were the first local financial institution to offer remote deposit capture which allows our members to take a photograph of their cheque which enables it to be deposited immediately into their account. We are constantly updating our website to stay in touch with new and existing clients.
What is your ideal way of spending a day off?
BL: I love to get up early and either go for a bike ride or a swim. Then listen to some music, read, have dinner, enjoy a glass of wine and share some laughs with friends.
What is your favourite vacation spot and why?
BL: My favourite vacation spot would be anywhere I haven’t been before because I love new experiences.