Consumers show affinity for credit unions, social media posts show


An analysis of social media conversations found that consumers join credit unions because of better customer service, more credit and lower fees.

Jehan Hamedi, global market development manager with Crimson Hexagon in Boston, gathered some 230,000 relevant social media conversations from January to November 2012 that were analyzed for the credit union industry.

“If used in the right way, social media can be the largest source of unsolicited consumer opinions,” Hamedi told credit union executives during a presentation titled Social Intelligence: New Strategies to drive Membership and Lending at the 2013 CU Direct Lending Conference.

The analysis found that 17 percent of the total conversations represented consumers who cited better customer service as the biggest benefit for joining credit unions. Hamedi said in 15 percent of social media conversations consumers see credit unions to be advantageous for building credit and raising credit scores.

He said 14 percent cite more competitive interest rates, while 13 percent noted fee savings as reasons to switch to a credit union. Hamedi said 9 percent switch to credit unions because membership feels more like a community.

“Consumers are telling you what they want, but most people aren’t listening,” Hamedi said.

Crimson Hexagon leverages its proprietary technology to monitor social media conversations to uncover what consumers are saying about businesses, products and services. The CU Direct Lending Conference took place May 21-22 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Hamedi said in analyzing 27,000 conversations about one of the “big four” retail banks, 12 percent want to end their relationship because of checking account fees and customer service issues. He noted that 77 percent of the conversation was positive following the release of mobile check deposit, but that quickly declined to 60 percent.

“It only built them short-term goodwill,” said Hamedi, who declined to identify the bank surveyed.

He stressed that credit unions need to develop online strategies to reach out to potential members. Hamedi suggested using Facebook or a credit union’s website to reach out and explain how a credit union can help them.

Hamedi said it was crucial to analyze the social media conversation to tell your message.

“We are in an age of anxiety,” Todd Buchholz, an economist and former director of economic policy under President George H.W. Bush, said in a keynote speech to almost 400 credit union executives. “When is confidence really coming back?”

Buchholz said a middle class that’s trapped was slowing the economic recovery. He said those who kept their jobs have not had a pay raise, commodity prices have risen, while also competing against the 1 billion more people in India and China who enter the labor force.

Buchholz also discussed FOE — the Federal Reserve, oil and the euro.

He said the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have done everything they can to prop up the world’s economy. Buchholz expected the Fed to keep interest rates at zero through the end of the year, before a 5 basis-point raise sometime in 2014.

He said unemployment at 7.5 percent was “improving but at a glacial pace,” while health care “puts a trip wire in front of small businesses” when it comes to job creation. Buchholz didn’t expect the Affordable Care Act to be overturned “unless there is a massive change in the next election.”

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

 

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