Scott Adams, creator of the serial documentary “Dilbert“, invented the term “confusopoly” back in 1998. Basically, it refers to the tactic of entangling consumers through sheer confusion rather than being directly competitive.
Cell phone companies are the best-known example — can anyone understand why the inescapable two year contract has become the de facto standard? Do you really understand your cable bill? Have you ever looked at a hospital bill?
Okay, what about your credit union’s loan or Visa application? In order to get free or interest checking at your credit union, how many conditions and exceptions must members meet? How long does it take to open a Health Savings Account?
You see, consumers are starting to learn how to deal with confusopolies. Gen-Y, Z, (and whatever’s next) consumers are growing up accustomed to the idea of being able to configure, hack and reprogram everything in their lives. To them, a credit union is just software that handles money.
Whoever offers the most customization and the least fine print will gain a huge competitive advantage. How can your CU set your members free?
- Remove commitment risk. Offer an undo button; an escape hatch, no questions asked. Need to close, move, or change an account? It should be do-able, preferably online, in a few clicks, no arguing or whining. (For example, makers of downloadable software find that conversion rates are much higher when they offer a money-back guarantee and a way to try their software for free with no strings attached.)
- Offer “free samples” — small ways members and potential members can interact with and get to know the credit union’s personality without commitment. This includes everything from giveaways to community involvement.
- Exile fine print — sneaky legal traps have a certain barnyard odor that drives away far more business than they keep.
- Use small incentives for everyone, not big bribes or prizes for the few — build a trail of breadcrumbs, not a pot of gold. Instead of giving away a trip to Hawaii to one person, have a luau in the parking lot on game day and give everyone a lei.
- Think beyond money — opening a new branch? Give away popcorn or ice cream just to allow people the chance to see the branch and interact without committing their life savings right that moment.
- Respect privacy — allow people to interact anonymously as far as possible.
- If you’re giving away something, get over the fear of people gaming the system if you give away something. Few, if any, will bother. Exploitation is a tiny risk that can be managed easily. So what if someone earns 15 free t-shirts? That’s 15 low-cost ads out there walking around. Extra conditions almost always drive away more than they save.