One easy way to get loyal members to leave your credit union

Mood or mode?  Did you know both words share the same root word? Modality.

modality is the way or mode in which something exists or is done.

I point this out because it’s impossible to take your member where you want them to go until you first meet them where they are. And where they are is in one of two different moods, or modes, of shopping:

Transactional or relational mode

While we operate in each mode at different times, we tend to choose our mode according to the category in which we’re making a decision.

Example: If the category in question is one in which you have an interest, don’t already have a preferred provider in mind, and are willing to spend time to save money, you will approach that decision-making process in transactional mode.

Example: If the category in question is one in which you have no interest, already have a name in mind that you know and trust, and are willing to spend money to save time, you will approach that purchase in relational mode.

A member deciding in transactional mode:

  • Thinks short term (what can you do for me right now?)
  • Today’s transaction will most likely be the end of the relationship
  • Enjoys the process of shopping and negotiating, and they’re looking for the cheapest option
  • Considers themselves the expert and is not looking for your advice.
  • Is willing to spend time shopping around or doing more themselves to save money

A member deciding in relational mode:

  • Thinks long term
  • Considers today’s transaction to be first in a series of many they will make with you
  • Will forego rate shopping or comparing other financial institutions
  • Fears only making a poor choice
  • Seeks an expert they can trust
  • Is willing to spend money to save time (again, not rate or fee sensitive)
  • Desires a long-term solution provider and will be loyal

“Well, why wouldn’t we want all of our members to be relational?”

Yes, if you don’t disappoint them.

Here’s how you can easily lose members who value relationship over price: You must create a culture among your credit union team that causes your employees to take pride in delivering the experience that is expected by the members in relational shopping mode.

Beware! When you disappoint the relational member, they take it as a personal betrayal. You were their trusted provider and you let them down.

You’d think transactional members would be simpler to deal with, but not necessarily.

Your transactional members have zero loyalty to you. Your relationship ends when the transaction is complete (think indirect members.) Transactional members who are attracted to you for reasons of price or rate alone will abandon you for another financial institution as soon as you’re not the cheapest.

There is nothing that another company cannot do a little worse and sell a little more cheaply. Credit unions that depend on indirect auto lending or focus on low rates are not secure when it targets members in transactional decision-making mode.

So which direction do you go? That’s up to your credit union and its culture but remember: The words you use in your marketing messaging send certain vibes to your members and would-be members. Do your word choices appeal to those in relational mode, or do they speak to members in transactional mode?

What’s Your Modality?

From strat plans to rebrands, YMC President and CEO, Bo, is passionate about helping financial institutions come up with a winning formula. If you’re ready to go beyond the SWOT, you can email him at

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