Value the Relationship Over the Transaction

By Gary Grinnell, NAFCU Board Chair

Gary Grinnell, NAFCU Board Chair

Our structure as credit unions allows us to prioritize extreme member service over anything else. In fact, the member-owned, cooperative model of credit unions is a big factor of what drew me to the credit union industry at the beginning of my career. There were no stockholder interests and I found that at credit unions, the pressure of performance did not weigh down employees or stifle innovation. Instead, the all-encompassing service-minded mission pushed the organization forward.

I have witnessed firsthand how success can be achieved by taking full advantage of the credit union cooperative mindset and doing what our industry does best: focusing on our members and taking exceptionally good care of them. Allowing our credit union to revel in the long-term mindset of fostering unbreakable trust with members is not only rewarding, but also provides us with a unique advantage.

At Corning Credit Union, I have impressed upon my own team that it should never be just about the transaction but rather always be about the relationship. We work hard to focus on each member—building a one-on-one relationship, providing real solutions, and always putting them first.

Achieving success for the long-term goal of member trust and retention means you are achieving success as a credit union. I have a few ideas of how your credit union can reach this goal:

Pairing the personal, member touch points at your credit union with a digital experience that is on par with those at large banks.

Having your team actively engaged and building relationships with people in the community on a daily basis.

Ensure staff and your credit union’s leadership team are always accessible and available to your membership.

While I believe this is the most important part of our industry’s mission, I am also aware of the demands credit unions must meet to remain competitive and innovative. We must remember that growth is important. Instead of offering new programs and products that members may or may not use, we should allow the strong relationships built with members guide the direction for new programs and products to better serve them. When you foster a deep understanding of your credit union’s membership, you will know the problems they face and the solutions they need—providing you a return on investment that can’t be matched.

At NAFCU, the same value on member relationships exists in every corner of the association. Created to provide credit union members with the industry’s best advocacy, compliance assistance, and educational offerings, NAFCU’s mission rests on extreme member service. The award-winning staff members at NAFCU take time to understand the day-to-day issues facing our organizations and voice our concerns on Capitol Hill and with federal regulators. NAFCU leadership is constantly soliciting credit union feedback through various channels, including committees that meet monthly on legislative and regulatory topics, the eight NAFCU Networks that serve as a platform for peer-to-peer communication, and the new quarterly working groups that focus on housing finance issues, digital asset regulation, and small business lending.

At NAFCU, industry concerns are met with action. I am proud to serve as Chair of the NAFCU Board of Directors and I wholeheartedly believe in our industry’s cooperative mission. While numbers are important, sticking to our core value of ‘people helping people’ is what matters and I am confident in our ability to move the industry forward on behalf of so many American families and businesses. 

Gary Grinnell is president and CEO at Corning Credit Union in Corning, NY.