Traveling tends to make you pay attention to things that normally don’t cross your mind.  On this trip, the thing that keeps coming up is consistently, or more correctly the lack thereof, and its implications for the way people see your business.

For credit unions it is important to consider this because the foundation of the financial services relationship is trust.  When you articulate and communicate policies that you don’t follow, you undermine that trust.

Here are a some quick examples from yesterday’s travels.

1. Airlines announce repeatedly that you can only have one carry on bag and that it must be no larger than a certain size.  Why was I whacked in the head yesterday by a bag large enough to hold a small horse that a kind flight attendant was helping weak passenger hoist and jam into the overhead?

2. Airlines announce that you must meet the necessary qualifications to sit in the exit row.  They care so much about this that they actually ask every passenger to verbally respond to the question of whether they can in fact provide service if called upon.  How did the geriatric lady who was helped onto the plane by her traveling companion and who neither heard or understood the question get to remain in the exit row seat (and why was her traveling companion allowed to answer for her)?

3. Hotels put little signs in the bathroom telling you to place towels that you want washed on the floor and those that you will reuse on the rack to help them save water and conserve energy.  Why is it that every time I place a towel on the rack, I return to the room to find it replaced with a nicely folded freshly washed towel?

My point here is not to beat up these two industries.

It is instead to point out that sometimes well intentioned policies are set up by well meaning people who are not in a position to support their enforcement.  The result is that the policies are not enforced, and that makes those who listened and complied wonder.

They wonder why the policy does not apply to those who choose to violate it.  They wonder why the policy was stated in the first place if the business was not going to enforce it.  They wonder how the attention paid to these things impacts the way the business does the other things that it does.

All of this deteriorates the all important trust that a business needs to have with its customers; and if you have similar things happening in your credit union, they will destroy the trust your members need to have in order to continue supporting your credit union.

ACTION ADVICE: Carefully review all of the policies and guidelines that your team is sharing with your members.  Make sure they are being consistently adhered and ask whether they even need to be in place.  Eliminate the ones that you can and train your team to adhere to the ones that matter.  You’ll increase the level of trust you have with your members and build strong long term relationships with them.