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Social media study: What makes CUs attractive to consumers
BOSTON (1/30/13)--What makes credit unions so attractive and inviting? Better customer service tops the list, according to an analysis of more than 220,000 posts from a social media library conducted by Crimson Hexagon, a social media research group in Boston.

Nearly 17% of the posts touted credit unions' better member/customer service, said the company, which analyzed posts over 11 months to understand why consumers join credit unions.

"Operating under a different business model than their traditional counterparts, credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial entities," said Crimson Hexagon. "Recently, credit unions have become an increasingly popular banking alternative for consumers in the U.S. As a result, traditional banks have come to view credit unions as formidable competition--often including key players in competitive research and social media analysis."

The group's conclusion: "At a growing rate, consumers believe that they will receive superior customer service through the credit union model," said the report.  "In fact, the proportion of conversation related to joining credit unions because of customer service has increased 20% since January 2012," it added.

"Consumers also identify with an intangible benefit of these institutions: credit union membership feels like you are part of a community," said the company.

The study is well-timed; the Credit Union National Association recently announced its key communications goals center on making more people aware of the value of credit unions.

Other reasons consumers cited in the study for making credit unions their choice included:

  • Help me build credit, raise score, cited by 15%;
  • Grant higher credit limits, 14%;
  • Lower interest rates on loans, 14%;
  • Savings on fees, 13%;
  • Credit unions foster and support community, 9%;
  • General displeasure with  previous bank, 8%;
  • Big banks are unethical, 7%; and
  • Better rewards program, 3%.
"In this industry," said the report, "credit unions uniquely enjoy the reputation of being community builders. Consumers favor these institutions because they are perceived to foster communities--both among its own members and in local areas."

"Nuanced discussions within this conversation include the belief that credit unions are genuinely concerned with leaving a positive footprint in their regional areas of operation, and they don't view their members as numbers--or dollar signs."  Although this sentiment represents 9% of the conversation, "its proportion relative to all other reasons for joining credit unions has increased 12% since January 2012."

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