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  • Focus Groups Help Idaho Credit Union Identify Hyperlocal Issues

    Posted by on July 28, 2015

    Side view of three mid adult people sitting and talking

    Side view of three mid adult people sitting and talking

    An intentional, strategic focus on the Hispanic member experience has become a top priority for Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU). The cooperative’s home state saw the Hispanic population increase by 17 percent from 2000 to 2010, and several of its 26 branches are located areas rich in Hispanic culture.

    michaelwatson (2)Although the credit union has long worked to translate materials and hire bilingual personnel, there has not been a formal plan in place for actively engaging the Hispanic community and the credit union’s existing Hispanic members. Before developing that plan, however, Marketing Manager Michael Watson wanted to ensure the credit union did its homework.

    “There’s a lot of national research out there specific to the Hispanic consumer to which we could have turned,” said Watson. “Yet, we wanted results specific to our local markets. What may be true for most Hispanics may not be true for the Hispanics in eastern Idaho, for example. We needed to truly understand the unique needs specific to our community members.”

    To do so, Watson worked with Coopera to organize three focus groups, each set in a different area of the ICCU field of membership. The goal was four-fold:

    1. Better understand the financial services experience of local Hispanic communities to help guide strategies for the credit union’s Hispanic growth efforts
    2. Learn how the local Hispanic communities think and feel about financial institutions
    3. Identify cultural nuances within the Hispanic community to assist in better serving these communities
    4. Provide a means of evaluating products and services for the community and how to best communicate those products and services

    Among the many learnings generated by the focus groups, Watson said several stand-outs will shape the way the cooperative’s Hispanic member experience plan is drafted. These include educational and product development opportunities, as well as guidance on how and where to market the credit union’s services. Digital banking, emphasis on family/childcare and strong attention to consistent internal training were other high-priority issues identified through the focus groups.

    Initially, Watson was skeptical about the authenticity of the results if participants knew ICCU was the host of the focus groups. However, he now believes revealing the credit union as the organizer has been beneficial.

    “Sharing that it was ICCU behind the effort allowed us to gain a deeper level of feedback about actual experiences we may not otherwise have gotten,” said Watson. “Additionally, because the participants knew it was us, there is also now an expectation that we use the data to make a difference in their experience. In fact, a couple of our participants said, ‘We’ll be watching.’”

    Watson and the ICCU management welcome this attention, as they look to prove their commitment to serving this important and growing segment of members. More focus groups and a unique plan for ongoing engagement of focus group participants are expected in the near future.

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