This is a real life story of a meeting with HFS FCU. Through the eyes of BloomCU cofounder, Derik Krauss, see how we created a vision for HFS FCU’s new credit union website design.
I recently got an email from Ashley at HFS Federal Credit Union. In the email was an agreement signed by her CEO, Nate, saying BloomCU is going to design a new website for HFS. I was really excited and, as always, a bit nervous due to the anticipation of many tasks that go into a credit union website design project.
To kick off the project, we scheduled a strategy meeting. This is a really important meeting because it sets the vision for the whole credit union website design. I prepared a document for the strategy meeting containing questions to lead a discussion (you can download a copy of our Strategy Guide).
I anxiously awaited for our strategy meeting to start at 10:30 AM Hawaiian Time (HFS is based in Hilo, Hawaii, so I’m hoping I’ll have to fly to their office for a “business trip”). Even though I’m pretty good at talking with people, when I meet with clients I get a little nervous about facilitating good conversation and always sweat–especially when I present to groups of people. Fortunately, this was a phone meeting so they didn’t see my sweaty armpit tacos.
I called into their conference line and greeted Ashley, Jesica, Jim, Donna, and Nate. After some brief introductions, I asked my first question, “Why do you want a new website?” Here are some of the responses I got:
- “We want the website to be a resource center, not only for members, but also for our staff.”
- “Members should be able to do more on our website through their mobile phones.”
- “The design and aesthetics of the website need to be improved.”
- “We want to better organize the website and simplify the navigation so visitors can find information more easily.”
- “The new website should make visitors aware of the many awesome products and services offered by HFS.”
These are all good answers and the same type of responses I usually get when holding strategy meetings for credit union website design projects. However, creating a laundry list of website features is not the purpose of a strategy meeting. No, we need to dig deeper to discover something more elemental. That’s why I next ask, “Why does your credit union exist?” For several seconds there is silence, but I wait. Finally, Jim breaks the ice and a thoughtful discussion ensues. Ultimately, we conclude, HFS exists to help members with their financial needs.
Then, I ask, “How do you measure the success of your credit union?” The answer I expect to hear is a list of metrics like, “Number of members, checking accounts, auto loans, etc.” Honestly, I thought a list of metrics would be the best answer to my question. Instead, I heard a much better answer. Ashley speaks up and says, “We can know our credit union is successful when we hear success stories from our members.” Then she shares this story written by a member named Anthony:
I recently closed a personal loan with HFS FCU, and I was extremely pleased with the service of both the staff and the loan product. I submitted my application online and was contacted by staff about a week later that because of the overwhelming demand for the promotion, they would need more time to analyze the application. A few days later, I received a call from a branch manager who was friendly and understanding, not only asking questions related to my loan, but also wanted to know more about me as a member. I enjoyed the interactions I had with her, and I will always remember how she listened and offered to give me advice for the future. I am grateful to be a member of HFS FCU, and I am glad to be a part of their family. Thank you for helping me with my financial needs!
As Ashley speaks, I feel the synapses in my brain firing and I think, “Of course that’s the true measure of success! Success is when a member has a wonderful experience because HFS fills a financial need in a caring manner. Metrics are just measures of how many individuals you help.” As our conversation continues, we determine that metrics are important (of course), but only as measures of individual success stories.
The last big questions I ask are, “What makes HFS special? Why should someone choose HFS over alternatives?” I ask these questions because I want to know how to communicate HFS’s brand through the website. The first response I hear is, “We genuinely care about the lives and success of our members.” Then, Nate chimes in, “Our employees are what make HFS special.” He explains that the employees of HFS are responsible for the member success stories because they give members a level of service and personal attention that shows they genuinely care. After all, the employees are on the front lines making sure members experience HFS’s mantra, “Where Caring Counts.”
As our conversation ends, we summarize the key takeaways of our strategy meeting:
- HFS exists to create stories of financial success for its members.
- Metrics–like the number of members, accounts, loans, etc.–are measures of the success stories HFS creates.
- The employees of HFS make the credit union special because they create success stories for members by exhibiting “Where Caring Counts.”
These three takeaways will guide the entire website project because everything the website becomes and does will link back to at least one of these three things.
Note: To get these takeaways, I asked several questions that include the word “why.” I’ve found that asking, “Why?” helps me get to the heart of what’s most important. That’s true not only with credit union website design projects, but with everything in life. (I know, I sound like a life coach, but it’s true.)
I hang up the phone and smile. Despite the fact that my underarms are damp with sweat, I know the call was a success because I can now see in my mind’s eye a vision for the new HFSFCU.org.
PS: HFS FCU’s new website has not been launched yet. It will launch at the end of January, 2017. We’re super excited about it. Here’s a sneak peak of the new design:
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