I was in Sedona, Arizona this past week-end to speak for the CEOs and Board Chairs of some of the largest and most innovative cooperatives in the world.

No, not BECU or Navy Fed – Florida’s Natural, Blue Diamond Almonds, and the Dairy Farmers of America (just to name a few). I was asked to share my knowledge of Net Promoter Score (NPS) at the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership.

I spent weeks researching agricultural cooperatives and constantly experienced deja vous. It was like reading the history of credit unions all over again.

One of the co-ops in the room was 98 years old. They struggle with the need to merge to create economies of scale. They are riddled with regulation. Oh, and they have to deal with the economy AND the weather. I have a deep respect for farming.

The one thing that stood out for me at this conference, was how many times they mentioned their member. The farmer. It was always a part of their language. Their cause. At the end of the day, how does this benefit the farmer?

Most credit union conferences today tend to focus on the products, the risk of our business, the need to improve margins. All important things – but it struck me – we are nothing without our member. Our members created us. And when we stop being loyal to that fact (to them) they will stop being loyal to us.

That’s why I’ve become so passionate about the Net Promoter Score (NPS). It’s the measure of member loyalty that predicts growth by asking a simple question, “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends, family and co-workers?”

Loyalty and word-of-mouth grew credit unions for the first 50 years. Our members marketed FOR us. Because we could not quantify the ROI on that – we ignored the essential ingredient in that process – the members have to be at the center of your decision-making. And not by “guessing” what they need or relying solely on “anecdotal” reference. NPS is a discipline, like accounting, that puts the voice of the member on the balance sheet, where it belongs.

I am rejuvenated after spending the week-end with these co-ops. I know we have some nay-sayers out there when it comes to NPS. So I invite you to attend the FORUM Symposium in October of this year where you will get to hear the incredible story of how Diana Dkystra used NPS to grow a super loyal base of members at San Francisco Fire.