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Firm that understands customer behavior chooses credit union that understands member service

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San Diego-based research firm Strategic Vision helps clients understand what drives human behavior and decisions in a variety of situations — from buying new cars to serving on juries. Formed in 1972 by Dr. Darrel Edwards, a psychologist who developed a comprehensive theory that describes, explains, and predicts choices that an individual or group of individuals might make, the company was incorporated as Strategic Vision in 1989.

Many of Strategic Vision’s clients are in the automotive industry. It also works with other organizations including consumer goods, food and beverage, pharmaceutical companies, and government and political agencies.

From left: Jennifer Ventimiglia, Vice President of Business Services and Development at USA Federal; Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision’s automotive division; and David Lazott, Strategic Vision’s Chief Financial Director. Photo: Katie Euphrat

“Our theory of human decision making starts with understanding the inner values which affect consumers’ beliefs, attitudes, and behavior,” said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision’s automotive division. “When clients really want to know how and why a decision is made, so that they can have the most effective commercial or product, they give us a call and know we can give them an answer. People who have used us are so successful in both their short and long-term strategies, they become fanatically loyal. So when the next question comes up, or if they go to another company, they call us again.”

Sometimes the answers Strategic Vision uncovers are surprising. In its work with car dealerships, for example, the company discovered that customers who bought new cars with minor problems that required taking them back to the dealership to be fixed believed their vehicles were higher quality than owners of identical cars that had no problems.

“People think it’s funny, but that additional interaction is very important,” Alexander Edwards explained. “It makes the car owner feel better about the vehicle emotionally and to believe it is more thoughtfully designed. Of course, that all goes out the window if the vehicle has a second problem.”

While Strategic Vision is in the business of helping clients understand their customers, a couple of years ago, the company found itself in the position of being a customer whose needs weren’t understood. Though Strategic Vision had been a customer of a big bank that then handled all of its financial needs for a long time, executives and other employees were often treated like strangers who’d just walked in off the street.

“One employee went to the bank to cash a small check and was given a 45-minute run around,” said Alexander Edwards, adding that it was also frustrating to be unable to draw on funds from checks from major corporate clients for several weeks. “Our company had 10-plus accounts at the bank, and I’d been banking with them personally for almost 15 years, but they had almost no idea who I was.”

David Lazott, Strategic Vision’s Chief Financial Director, was also unhappy with the bank’s lack of service.

“There was a high rate of staff turnover, so we were dealing with a new crew every few months,” he said. “Service had disappeared.”

Strategic Vision decided to turn to USA Federal Credit Union to handle its daily banking needs because employees with personal accounts at the credit union had praised the service and benefits they received. The fact that the credit union’s Tierrasanta branch happened to be next door to Strategic Vision’s offices was an added incentive to make the switch.

“USA Federal gives us that personal service we wanted,” Lazott stated. “They know us by first name; they know my voice when I call. Because we’re so close, sometimes they even walk over to deliver my receipts. That kind of service is really important to us. They know our business and what we need to do in our everyday banking.”

Alexander Edwards is also pleased with the level of service Strategic Vision receives from USA Federal. And it’s no longer a hassle for the company to be able to immediately access funds from a large deposit.

“That level of security and service gives us the freedom to conduct our business in the most successful way, which is what we teach other companies to do,” he remarked.

According to Jennifer Ventimiglia, Vice President of Business Services and Development at USA Federal, as a member of the credit union, Strategic Vision shouldn’t expect anything less than exceptional, personalized service.

“At USA Federal, you’re more than just an account number — as a member, you’re an owner,” she said. “We take that very seriously.”

Like other business members of USA Federal, Strategic Vision can leverage special opportunities to promote and help grow its business. Examples include being guests on the credit union’s weekly “Money and You” Internet radio show or advertising their company via plasma screens at its branches.

“Every financial institution on every street corner talks about helping companies grow their business,” Ventimiglia explained, “but I believe we are truly following through with our commitment,by providing these opportunities.”

To learn more about Strategic Vision, visit www.strategicvision.com. For more information about USA Federal Credit Union’s Business Services, visit www.usafedcu.org/business or contact Jennifer Ventimiglia at jventimiglia@usafed.org.

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