ROI – the Return on Involvement by Jim Johnson

As you may know, I work for a credit union.  Several years ago, I had the privilege of speaking at a Credit Union Times conference at Disney World Resorts.  My presentation focused on how credit union leaders can truly impact their communities.  This post is a summary of that presentation.  It is written from the perspective of a financial institution – specifically a credit union.  But there are lessons that can be learned for any industry.  

Today, many people are looking that “sure thing” – something to believe in, to hope for, that safe haven – but the reality is that there are very few sure things in this world.

Our customers/members are wanting, needing, and seeking “sure things” in their lives.  Guess what?  YOU can be that sure thing!

In this post, I want to share how you can create an incredible ROI – a Return on Involvement – that will positively impact someone else’s life while it grows your business, your company’s brand, and boost your personal reputation.

None of us can afford to waste time, resources, or energy becoming involved in things that go no where.  In thinking about this ROI, I suggest there are two variables that we need to consider that will help us determine the impacts of the levels of return from our involvement.


As this exhibit shows, we will explore the Range of Impact – those member/customer experiences where you may or may not interact with them.  Also, we’ll see how the Return of Involvement – how well you become involved in those experiences – can grow.  Note the following:

roi f

…, the greater the intensity of the impact you can make on your member/customer, the higher potential for the Return on Involvement.  Read on…

The Range of Impact does not have to be harsh or intense.  In fact, your company already is doing activities that positively impact your community.

roi c

From Junior Achievement to Habitat for Humanity to food drives to mentoring a student, Community Involvement is the first level of impact that most companies participate in.  We get positive PR from this as we demonstrate our desire to become better corporate citizens.  We do good things!  There is impact on this level, but typically it is not very personal.  Let’s look at the next level of impact.

roi d

Personal Investment provides us more opportunity to personally impact our members/customers.  At this level, it is not the company that acts, but it is individuals within the company that begin to get more involved.  How does this happen?

In my industry (credit unions), we are committed to doing the following for our members everyday at every encounter:

  • Help them make money
  • Help them save money
  • Help them save time
  • Protect their assets
  • Help them prepare for their future

Most people want to do these things.  And it usually surrounds that person having a problem that needs to be solved, a need that they want met, or a dream they have that we can help them fulfill.

Years ago, a sales associate of ours was chatting with members who she had built a good relationship with.  On this day, the couple was sharing their process for adopting a baby (they were unable to have children on their own) and how expensive it was.  They didn’t think it could happen due to costs.  The sales associate suddenly connected some dots and asked them if they owned the home they lived in.  “Sure, but why do you ask?” The sales associate explained how a home equity loan would provide the needed funds for the adoption.  “We can use the funds for an adoption?”  “OF COURSE!”  This family has now grown to 2 children because a sales associate became personally involved in these members’ lives.  What an ROI, eh?!

roi e

The third level of impact is Crisis Intervention.  Bad things happen to good people.  And during these times, people need leaders like you and me even more.  This level requires that we have already built solid relationships with our members/customers so we know what is happening in their lives.  This level requires trust between our members/customers and us.

At my credit union, we have met this level of impact in positive ways by:

  • Helping folks consolidate debt and freeing up hundreds of dollars thus lifting heavy debt burdens from them…
  • Walking through the process with individuals who have had their identities stolen…
  • Coming along side of a woman whose husband suddenly died and providing peace of mind regarding her finances during this most difficult time…

Are you a leader of leaders?  Do your leaders understand their ability to impact their members/customers?  Do they know how to build trusting relationships today?  Are they willing to make the personal investment that can ultimately change someone else’s life?

This is true:  We serve our communities best we when, as leaders, seek to personally impact our members/customers at their greatest point of need.

Our nation is moving out of a hard economic period.  Some areas are recovering faster than others.  People are still in need of a trusted partner.  YOU can make a difference today.  Listen.  Act.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot, things aren’t going to get better, they’re not!”  The Lorax

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