51SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Holly Fearing Holly lives and breathes social media; if you can’t find her IRL, try reaching out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll likely get her right away. … Web: www.filene.org Details How’s your relationship with your credit union members? Do you feel confident you’re in a good place with them?According to Knapp’s Relationship Model, created by University of Texas professor Mark Knapp, there are five escalation and termination phases that explain how a relationship progresses or deteriorates.Now typically, this model has been applied to interpersonal development between two people but because it’s rooted in theoretical framework, I was able to walk the credit union/member relationship through this model to see how credit unions can advance the member relationship and avoid the termination phases altogether.Phase 1: As with any relationship, personal and business alike, the coming together phase begins with initiation.Here is where the credit union has effectively drawn the attention of the prospective member, or the prospective member has sought out the credit union to see if it will meet his or her needs. This is when a credit union communicates with a prospect or lead most attentively and timely in attempt to make a good first impression, show their best side and ‘seal the deal’ to convert this lead to a new member.In addition to traditional marketing materials, digital channels like social media and your website are vital to conveying the right first impression and enabling the prospective member to know about the credit union in the first place.Phase 2: If they like what they see, potential new members may then further delve into the relationship, entering the experimentation phase where they will explore what the credit union is about and analyze how it can add value to their life. This is familiarly what we experience as price comparison shopping.There is no better way for prospective members to quickly and effectively decide to chose your credit union over other options than through your social media platforms and website. These individuals will want to know your personality, values, mission and what you have to offer them. This is the point when many relationships end due to simple lack of alignment on values and needs. A lack of easily accessible information or no similar interest with social media can also trigger the end.Phase 3: Escalating to the intensifying phase, the prospective member has now joined your credit union and is officially a credit union member! Congratulations, this takes your relationship to a whole new level. You now know much more about each other and the member is likely receiving a regular cadence of email or direct mail communications from the credit union. Knowing more of their personal information, you can use your expertise to proactively offer solutions.In this phase it is incumbent on the credit union to intensify the member’s connection to the credit union. Content on social media and your website related to causes you support, your differentiating stories and how you benefit the community can begin to form the bonds of loyalty among members in this phase of the relationship.Phase 4: The integration phase is reached once the member is pleased with the culture, processes, products and customer service received in the initial stages of the relationship. This is when the member would deepen the connection by transferring over other accounts and making the credit union their primary financial institution.This spot is where many relationships can take a wrong turn and head down the termination path when credit unions take the member’s commitment for granted and focus too heavily on attracting new members. It behooves the credit union to provide many options for existing members to participate and engage with the credit union. Rather than seeing member feedback as a potential risk, or worse, not providing a space for feedback, credit unions should welcome and encourage two-way communication on their social media channels, make board meetings more transparent by sharing information on social media and encourage and enable members to attend meetings and run for the board via digital communications.Phase 5: If you’ve reached the bonding phase with members, you now know who are your strongest advocates. They are ready, literally, to announce to the world their love for you on social media. What’s more, 90% of consumers trust product or service recommendations from people they know, according to the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey.By proving members with a digital path to your credit union; sharing who you are and allowing them a space for communication and feedback; and ensuring that doing business with you is accessible and beneficial for them, you’ll build an army of promoters that will influence their networks through social media to take the same journey with you as they have.There are many exit points toward relationship termination status on this journey of escalation and most are triggered by distance, lack of communication, stagnation, avoidance and rejection.A sound social media presence can work to avoid the common relationship pitfalls by keeping the flow of information ever present so the brand is frequently top of mind, communicating vital and timely updates, connecting with personality and empathy, and inviting participation in the credit union’s most important activities and functions.A credit union is a cooperative, which means the relationship to its members is the most important relationship it has. I’m reminded of that classic song lyric that I fear could be the anthem of some credit unions if they don’t recognize the importance of working hard at their relationships:“Situations have ended sad, relationships have all been bad […] But there’s no way that I can compare, all those scenes to this affair. You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go. You’re gonna make me wonder what I’m doing, staying far behind without you. You’re gonna make me wonder what I’m saying, you’re gonna make me give myself a good talking to. You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go…”Enjoy having that song stuck in your head all day.