Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Verity Credit Union’s Blog Making Industry News

Recently, Verity Credit Union was featured in the well-regarded industry magazine, On-line Banking Report, as being one of the most innovative financial institutes of 2006.

Verity has also been asked to speak at the well-attended Net.Finance 2007 conference in April.

Lastly, Verity Credit Union was recently quoted through a podcast in the leading industry blog, Opensource CU.

I am proud to boast that we have a board of directors and management team who are willing to try new things, a staff that is dedicated and talented enough to keep a blog going for over two years and a membership base that appreciates and participates in this type of dialogue.

11 Comments:

Blogger Trey Reeme said...

Shari, you absolutely rocked on the podcast - and it looks like Verity is well on the way to accomplish all three wishes you listed for the industry in 2007.

Thanks for the shout-out!

Thu Feb 22, 01:45:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shari,

Can you please define the specific benefits realized by our membership and the associated costs in staff time for extending this blog? Do you know how many unique members have viewed the blog on average each month? Since the blog has been in existence for over 2 years now, I would hope that you have documented specific costs and benefits.

Mon Feb 26, 04:43:00 PM PST  
Blogger shari storm said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thanks for the questions.

We certainly embarked on the blog as an experiment two years ago. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but since the blog platform is free to use and there were only three of us writing at the time, the stakes were pretty low.

The benefits have surprised us a bit. They include:

1. Many job applicants mention in job interviews that they have read our blog and feel like they know the corporate culture at Verity. We are viewed as a progressive place to work (and being a top place to work is one of our vision statements). As the job market in Seattle heats up, we are happy to have another thing in place that helps us recruit quality employees.
2. The employees who have volunteered to blog over the past two years enjoy it a great deal and there is a feeling of pride for our innovation and the recognition we have received – also making Verity a better place to work and fulfilling another vision statement – Verity will set the standard for innovation in the industry.
3. We have been able to use the blog for crises management – when we were spoofed, when the power went out and when we had snow closures.
4. Blogging, unlike traditional websites, lets us build and maintain an on-going story. I am a firm believer that credit unions need to do more to tell their story. My hope is that our blog helps with this.
5. Lastly, we have had a handful of members who cite the blog as their reason for joining the credit union.

The associated costs are more difficult to define. Currently, we are using the free Blogger platform and the employees who write are highly productive salaried employees (so hourly costs are hard to pin point). I estimate that, on average, each employee spends about one hour per month writing for the blog. But since they enjoy doing it, I don’t think it takes the place of their other duties (you may note that many of my posts are on weekends or before and after work hours).

Our stat counter indicates that we have between 700 and 800 unique visitors each month. Considering a paper newsletter runs around $2,000 to print and distribute, and is impossible to tell how many people read it, I am motivated to continue to use blogs, or at least the blogging technology, to communicate with members. I have grand illusions of members getting all of their information (and only the information they want), via RSS feed someday.

I hope that answered all of your questions. Please let me know if it did not.

-shari storm

Mon Feb 26, 07:29:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about also posting more content in your info center, which includes RSS and is much easier to search than the blog?

Mon Feb 26, 08:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger shari storm said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Anonymous. We are actually upgrading our blog right now it will be far easier to navigate in the near future.

I will also look into the capabilities of our current info center vendor / system to see if it is able to provide an RSS feed (and the corresponding costs associated with that).

-shari storm

Tue Feb 27, 05:05:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shari,

Correct me if I am wrong, but the info center seems like a better place to get answers to specific questions and the blog is for more open ended dialogue. How would you define the intended usage and benefits of both to Verity?

Thanks!

Thu Mar 01, 01:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger shari storm said...

Dear Anonymous

Hmmm… your questions make me wonder if I am really conversing with a member or an employee of FUZE.

To be quite honest with you, I think blogging systems and conversation tone have had better acceptance by web users.

I’ve already given you the benefits of the blog. The benefits of the info center have historically been a repository for lots of information.

Will it continue to be that way? I am taking a wait and see approach. It would not surprise me if we someday combine the two.

-shari storm

Fri Mar 02, 10:57:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Fuse? I have been a member for just over 2 years now and was just throwing out a question to see if I got the intended usage of your info center and your blog.

However, I must say that I don't see how a blog will ever be a place to get specific help. I think the blog is great, but it seems to me to support an entirely different need.

Have a great weekend!

Fri Mar 02, 06:01:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Chuck Van Court said...

Shari,

My name is Chuck and I am the president and founder of Fuze.

I just noticed this blog post in my RSS feeds and thought that I should respond for Fuze.

I seriously doubt that anyone in our company actually has the time to read and post to your blog. Not to make any commentary on your blog, but I just know how swamped we are.

The Fuze Suite, branded by Verity as the “Info Center”, is a complete member care software suite. In addition to providing a knowledge base that gets members and staff to desired information quickly, it can proactively manage assisted service within your service levels in business hours and also proactively manage all member feedback. Several other modules also exist to make your Web site a viable alternative support channel and to ensure consistency across all your support channels……but enough with me going on about the offering our team is very proud of.

Indeed a blog can facilitate communications with your membership that may not otherwise occur and certainly is not intended through your info center. Likewise, blogs are neither intended nor effective as a member care tool. In fact, I am not aware of one company that is using their blog as its customer care tool. Attempts by either delivery to directly address the benefits of the other would likely only dilute its effectiveness. I do however see benefits in using liberal links between the two to get members and staff quickly to the delivery that is best able to meet their need. I encourage you to explore how the info center and blog could better expose the advantages provided by each.

As far as your comments about which technology has been better received on the web: People who use blogs and appreciate their conversational tone turn to blogs for very different reasons than they would use your info center. As far as actual usage goes, your knowledge base gets over 7 times the volume as your blog and WSECU's KB gets over 70 times the usage. Clearly a knowledge base and the “info center” have been very well received by members and consumers alike.

Does that mean your info center is a better resource than your blog? No, it is like comparing apples to oranges -- they are different resources for different needs.

I wish your blog well and appreciate your team’s partnership with Fuze.

Sun Mar 04, 01:54:00 PM PST  
Blogger shari storm said...

Chuck – Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us your opinions on blogging.

As always, we appreciate the dialogue.

Sun Mar 04, 02:57:00 PM PST  
Blogger eCom Gal said...

I've been watching the dialogue go back and forth about our blog and info center and I am moved to comment.

As eCommerce Manager, I work with our blog and the management of our info center daily. I've had the pleasure of working with Chuck in setting up our info center 'back in the day' as one of Fuze’s first clients. And, setting up our first blog has been a creative challenge that has garnered much attention and accolades.

There is no one software or program out there that is the end all, be all-- yet. The info center has long been a tool for us to help members search for specific answers about Verity's products and services and if they can't find what they are looking for, they are empowered to search, comment and ask questions. The blog, I believe is more of a tool to foster engaging discussion with our members and credit union folk that goes beyond the step-by-step, "how do I” type of information found in our info center.

For almost three years now, our info center and our blog have co-existed amicably on our website and each serve their purposes well. My task is to make sure they will continue to do so.

Thu Mar 08, 07:09:00 AM PST  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home