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The 5th anniversary of MemberNote

April 15, 2009

By now most people who have read this blog know about Mt. Lehman Credit Union’s MemberNote product. We have been working on the newest version of MemberNote (MemberNote3) for these past months and realized last week that April 15, 2004 was the day we launched the first version. It does seem like it was only yesterday for all of us here.

What have we learned by being the first to deliver real-time alerts?

That above all, the members use and appreciate what we have done. Time and time again we hear the stories of how they have used this and how it has helped them. Going into building this, we had this as the key reason for doing all of this work. If it was something of value to the end user then it would be worth it. We don’t charge anything for this which we believe is important. 

That being first to market with something puts you into a whole new realm. (I think Tim can speak more to this). There hasn’t been any competition so there is nothing to compete against it. The product really stands alone right now. We had hoped that others would have been to market by now and that ideas and enhancements would have been added and pushed this type of service to a higher level. But that hasn’t been the case and in some ways it is disappointing. Probably the biggest disappointment is that because we are so small the drum we beat isn’t heard by others. That is the cost of being small. It has been interesting to view what the ‘experts’ say about alert messaging. They certainly have their views and we are sometimes amazed as to how they come to their particular conclusions. So often what they opinion is not what we see after 5 years of experience. But then they have the bigger drum.

The crux of all of this though is that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Forget about listening to the ‘doubting Thomas’s’. Don’t pay any attention to all of that outside ‘noise’ that keeps telling you that only the big players with their vast resource bases can accomplish what is necessary. These last few months of economic turmoil have told us much about what that eventually can lead to. Is there anything so insidious as the remark ‘too big to fail’? There has to be a balance for sure. To be creative and innovative is not for the weak hearted. You have to believe what you can accomplish and not look back. You will fail and you will fall but that should not stop you from arriving at what think should be done. This small group of employees at this small credit union have accomplished some incredible things. What does the future hold? We don’t know but are working on a few items so stay tuned. Probably never as big as this but what the heck. As Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870), the first senior officer of the U.S. Navy at the time of the American Civil War said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2009 1:15 pm

    It is crazy that the size of your credit union is directly related to the loudness of your drum. For those Mt Lehaman fans among is in BC CU-land, we know to listen closely to your drum.

    I, for one, also know that you are “too important to fail”. At the point where Mt Lehman would collapse, truly the entire banking system will have gone under.

    Anyone who doesn’t get what you guys represent from both a hyper-local relevant and an innovation point of view, isn’t worth listening to.

  2. April 15, 2009 2:12 pm

    Woohoo! MemberNote rocks. Frankly though I think both Central 1 and other CU’s have much catching up to do in this area. Perhaps time to license your creativity Gene and move the whole group forward (worked for Tim with Y&F)

  3. April 16, 2009 4:19 am

    Congratulations Gene and co!

  4. April 16, 2009 3:14 pm

    I have to say that the Member Note story is a great encouragement to anyone in a small software operation. Simply providing a meaningful product that can positively influence customers/members is a goal that so many start out with (and boy do we ever here grand stories of THE START) but it is so nice and refreshing to see an organization that has not only delivered on that initial goal, but has done so for so long!

    Thanks for the contribution!

  5. April 17, 2009 5:03 am

    MemberNote is, to put a Mainer term to use, “wicked cool”! Keep beating that drum, people will eventually start listening.

  6. April 20, 2009 10:26 am

    Gene, I remember sitting in your office more than 5 years ago, and you holding your phone. You asked the big question: “If you were a member, what if…?” You were already well on your way to MemberNote. What stands out for me is you started your question “If you were a member…” Your focus has always been on your members. I talk to a lot of credit union managers every day, and many say they are “all about their members” but you do your talking, walking. That’s what makes you cool!

    Congrats on 5 years!

  7. June 19, 2009 7:42 am

    Gene, I knew you were well ahead of the game when I first learned about your MemberNote, but I didn’t realize you were five years (and counting) ahead of the curve. Huge congrats.

    And here’s what I say about your drum analogy: The size of your drum has no bearing on the loudness of that drum and a large drum can even be a detriment to achieving good tone. The only thing that counts is playing the drum well… and that you are doing, big time, my friend.

    I just gave you and MemberNote a shout on Jim Bruene’s blog. Yes, it’s tough to be first. But boy, does it sure feel good when the rest of the world comes around. And they are, slowly but surely.

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