Data-related Lessons from…Estée Lauder?

One woman shaking hands with another in meeting room

My first job was with Estée Lauder. Well, my first real job—the 40-hour-a-week, punch-a-time-card, wear-a-uniform kind of job. That’s right, a uniform complete with the mandatory 2.5-inch heels. (Yes, seriously.) Over the course of my career, I’ve had many jobs, but only a select few shaped me significantly. The Estée Lauder job was one of those.

Imagine standing behind a cosmetics counter talking to a woman about her make-up routine and offering suggestions on how she can enhance (or minimize, in some cases) certain aspects of her appearance. Either way, at the end of the experience, you want her to walk away feeling good about herself, about you, and about whatever she (hopefully) purchased. That feeling captures what member experience means to me.

When I first started working for Lauder at the age of 19, I would introduce myself using only my first name. Audra. Just Audra. I was corrected almost immediately (as I am not Cher) by an older woman in the company who said, “Always look someone in the eye, use your full name, and shake their hand firmly when introducing yourself.” It was another valuable lesson, one I’ve carried with me ever since.

I learned quite a few lessons as an Estée Lauder rep, which, by the way, was an experience I loved. Next to bartending, it was one of the best jobs for learning how to interact with people on an intimate level and carry on conversations about personal products. Fast-forward a few years, and now I find myself marketing financial solutions that make people’s financial dreams a reality.

Thankfully, I can draw on my Estée Lauder experience and remember those lessons about how to make a customer feel special. I can recall how it feels to know you’ve made a difference in their day—maybe even their life (Trust me, the right lipstick color can be that empowering), and I can relate it to the work I do today with credit unions and their member experience.

My Lauder experience also taught me to remove the negatives from an interaction as quickly as possible, to listen to the customer’s needs, and present a solution or product that’s right for her. That’s similar to what we want our Member Service Reps or Financial Solutions Specialists to do when they are face-to-face with our members, right?

If we’re going to create an exceptional member experience in our credit unions, we must apply these lessons to how we treat our members. Look them in the eye, introduce ourselves, and give them a warm welcome. But in the age of emails, mobile devices, and online account opening, how do we cut through the digital noise and deliver specialized attention that still conveys the feeling “You are important to me and to our credit union”?

By using data, that’s how. Yep. Cold, boring numbers. Data.

WAIT! I love data! I promise I do. I love it for the sheer fact that you can use it to make members feel special and relevant like they’re part of something really cool. Because, as we all know, there is nothing cooler than belonging to a credit union.

Data. You don’t have to be a huge CU to use it, and you don’t have to have an incredibly tech-savvy data miner working behind the scenes to uncover mountains of information that you can use to onboard members and predict behaviors. You can use basic data and simple applications. You can use it to set the expectations for the member, guide them through new product releases, or show them the benefits of changing how they use a particular product or service. And the best part about using data like this? You can automate it!

For smaller credit unions, automation can be key. All too often, these credit unions lack the motivation to begin using data to set the stage for onboarding or for communicating regularly with their members. For starters, it can seem overwhelming, which makes it difficult to get buy-in from the whole team. But with a little effort, these credit unions can identify a few key trigger points and use those details to automate relevant, personalized emails. From there, the improved member experience will speak for itself.

I believe in the member experience. I believe that when you make every interaction about the member in front of you, good things will happen. When the message is specific to the individual, you will hold their attention and keep them engaged. Member growth and depth-of-relationship increases come from being relevant, looking your member in the eye (or addressing their unique concerns via email), and meeting their specific needs. After all, we are credit unions, and that level of personal focus is what makes us different in the best way.

Let's Get Started!

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche


Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!
Download Teal Paper!