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All In for a Better Future

Involving everyone is the objective of Ipswich Building Society’s new take on the mutual membership model, as Michelle Monck, General Manager Marketing, explains.

At the core of Ipswich Building Society are our members. Always have been – they own the Society, after all. Yet despite consistently outperforming banks on service, the connection between members and the building society has drifted towards the transactional. They rate us highly (we score a branch NPS of +65 and satisfaction scores regularly over 90%) but it’s not enough to differentiate.

The future is member-shaped

It is a distinction of fundamental importance that we are owned by our members, act in their interests and in those of the wider community – we all help each other, that’s the whole point. But a passive membership that does not participate in the operation of the Society, in its decision-making or supporting its ideas, erodes any real difference.

That is why we’re developing our ideas of what membership might mean, to involve our members, putting them back at the centre of our thinking.

It’s a win-win-win

When everyone’s involved, great things happen. Greater focus on members can bring benefits for all. The aims of All In, our new membership programme, are to benefit members directly, support our communities, and secure the future of the society.

It’s astonishing that to date no building society has answered the need to create a coherent membership package. That’s not to say that the sector doesn’t offer similar attractions, but that there’s been little attempt to draw together the strands of membership or to realise its potential.

The components of membership

All In invites members to enjoy being members. We began a soft launch with a calendar of member events. Our events support local arts and cultural organisations who rely on corporate sponsorship to survive, publicising their work and introducing a new audience.

We also aim to develop the idea of ownership. It is a pity that so few members exercise their rights to vote, yet they own the Society and can influence its direction. We’re finding new ways to encourage more direct and democratic involvement, not least because the more representative we are, the stronger we shall be.

And there’s a big difference between having a vote and having a voice. Most of us encourage feedback or monitor customer satisfaction, but what are we really hearing? We’re creating more direct channels that enable members to rate and review events and products. We’re publishing the comments left on our feedback surveys along with our responses and actions, and we’ll publish our NPS and satisfaction scores.

Finally, we believe there is a genuine desire among members to find ways to benefit others. We have long given up staff time to support local causes, it’s part of our responsible business ethos. But we’re going further to help connect local voluntary groups with our members to share information about their services and needs and encourage our members to become volunteers.

An active and engaged membership is the key to a successful and secure future for mutuals of all types. It ensures transparency in our operations, creates loyalty among our members, and earns us an important place in the financial and landscape of the country.

All In launches in September – you can find out more at www.ibs.co.uk/memberlounge

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