Business Development Expert Helps Credit Unions Harness the Power of Storytelling

3/5/2019

“You’re the restroom story lady!”

That’s what some people say when they recognize Strategic Link partner, Julie Ferguson of JRF Consulting at credit union conferences and networking events. It’s because of a story she shares with credit union employees about the importance of a positive attitude.

Ferguson travels extensively and one day, she walked into an airport restroom and noticed the attendant sitting on a box.

“She looked truly miserable,” said Ferguson. “Would you want to work in a bathroom with stressed out travelers all day long? That’s the vibe she was sharing.”

The next day, Ferguson returned to the same airport, but at a different terminal. As she walked into the restroom, she was greeted by an attendant with a huge smile who was singing, “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now. Everybody gets a seat!” Ferguson’s eyes got big.

“When it was my turn, she put her arm around my shoulders, and started singing ‘You are my sunshine’ and escorted me to the big stall,” said Ferguson.

“Shortly after that happened, I was asked to speak at a credit union training event and talk about having a positive attitude,” said Ferguson. “As I thought about my content and having a positive attitude, the restroom attendant kept popping into my mind. So, I Googled her.”

Ferguson found YouTube videos, and even a blog post. Valerie the “Happy Restroom Attendant” has shared smiles with thousands of people and even dazzled some to the point that they take videos and write about their extraordinary experience.

“I’ve been through that terminal countless times since, and every time I see Valerie she never stops smiling or singing. She’s built quite the following and people seek her out,” said Ferguson. “Think about that. She cleans a public restroom all day, and she chooses to have a positive impact on every single person she comes in contact with.”

The first time someone recognized Ferguson as “the restroom story lady,” Ferguson was surprised, but was also happy to hear that person say, “I bring my positive attitude every single day!”

That’s the power of storytelling. A study at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business shared that 5 percent of people remembered simple facts or statistics, but 63 percent remembered a story. Team members at credit unions have a great opportunity to share stories across different channels, and harness that storytelling power to create memorable experiences.

Share relatable stories
According to Ferguson, members are looking for solutions, empathy, and a sense that they are working with someone who understands or can relate to their situation. Stories can help connect the dots. If Ferguson simply stated, “Attitude is a choice” in her presentation, it wouldn’t have been as effective.

Stories are memorable. It’s much more meaningful to share information through a story rather than running through a checklist of the features and benefits of your products or services. Ferguson advises finding ways to weave in the real stories of service that made a meaningful difference with members.

Check your attitude
The love that Valerie has for her job is infectious. It’s inspiring and the takeaway is that if she can choose to be a positive force, then we can all do the same. Can members feel that we love what we do across all channels? How many “Valeries” does your credit union have?

Be memorable
“Ask yourself this simple question,” said Ferguson. “How can I utilize stories to help make this member’s experience memorable enough to be shared with everyone in their circle and beyond?”

For more information about JRF Consulting, contact Northwest Credit Union Association Strategic Partnerships Manager, Kaitlin Ramos. To learn more about Strategic Link’s partnership with JRF Consulting, visit its webpage.