Building society shows difference between members and customers

Ipswich Building Society has grown its mortgage, savings and membership base over the past five years. It boasts Net Promoter Scores of +65 and retention levels of 90%....

Ipswich Building Society has grown its mortgage, savings and membership base over the past five years. It boasts Net Promoter Scores of +65 and retention levels of 90%. But it has identified that 66% of its members feel more like a customer than a member.

Michelle Monck, general manager, marketing, says Ipswich needs to tackle to this to protect it from the growing competition of new, emerging and existing banks.

“We needed to raise awareness within our membership about their status with us as a member,” she added, “to help them appreciate how we are different and the value we bring beyond our core product set.”

The society’s strategy is focused on face-to-face, personal services. It is positioned as good value but not a rate-leading provider.

“We needed to ensure our relationship with members is based on a brand choice as opposed to product choice,” said Ms Monck. “We needed to find a clear differentiator and leverage our work in local communities.”

She said there was a lack of understanding of the difference between members and customers. “Alongside this would be the perception that membership feels different from being a customer,” she sa. “We decided to create a membership brand. It had to convey our accountability to members, provide demonstrable benefits, be engaging and, dare I say, fun.”

To this end, the society created the “All In” membership brand, with four components; ownership, events, feedback and volunteering.

Ownership provides clearer information about the society’s business model and governance.

Events is the fun aspect of the programme, with excursions and demonstrations from experts. Members are asked to share their experiences on the society’s website.

Feedback to customers has been improved, with customer satisfaction and net promoter scores published on the society’s website. It also shares themes from member feedback and the actions it has taken.

To facilitate volunteering, it has created areas on its website and in branches for members to share causes close to their hearts and ask other members for support.

Ms Monck says: “A loyalty scheme or membership programme/brand is more familiar to most consumers than the different ownership structures of financial organisations. A brand also makes the proposition of membership more appealing and easier to convey to members.”

The campaign will continue through 2015 and will be tracked by a twice-yearly survey of members.

Ms Monck says: “The launch focused on existing members. It kicked off with events across key branches, to generate excitement and reflect the strands of All In.

“We aimed to create micro experiences of All In. For example, member events were demonstrated with a performance from a local theatre group, a Celtic harpist and story-telling about World War One.”

Talks from charities such as Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Sensing Change and Diabetes UK demonstrated the volunteering elements of the campaign. And to improve feedback at the society, the executive team were available in branches to listen to members.

It is still early days, as the society is still in process of creating the brand and the first wave of communications. It plans a full campaign in 2015. Measurement and tracking will continue during 2015 and 2016 as the campaign rolls out.

Case study: Ipswich Building Society

Assets: £601m

Number of members: 65,000

Campaign: New ‘All In’ membership brand

Campaign objective: To increase awareness, understanding and engagement in membership

Target audience: Existing members

Delivery/implementation: Point of sale, branch events, new member website, email and social media

Campaign launched: September 2014

Contact: Michelle Monck, general manager, marketing, Ipswich Building Society, [email protected]

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