Friday, February 11, 2011

USAA: Why I Joined and What I'll Be Doing

As many of you know, I am leaving Forrester in the next week. I'm now happy to share where I'm heading: USAA, a Fortune 150 financial services firm dedicated to securing the financial well-being of the people and families who serve and have served in the US armed forces. My new job is Executive Director of Community and Collaboration, and I'll be working with a team of talented people to lead and coordinate social media throughout the organization.

When the recruiter first called about this opportunity, I turned her down with little thought. I didn't feel anywhere near prepared to leave Forrester and hadn't yet accomplished everything I set out to do as an analyst. Then I got to know USAA and everything changed.

The people I met while interviewing were all incredibly genuine and committed to the company mission. As I spoke with them, I found this is a mission for which I can easily enlist. We ask a lot of the people who volunteer to serve our country, and helping each of them and their families to have a safer, more comfortable future is a great calling.

Also, USAA is a truly innovative company. It has been a progressive leader in social business; for example, USAA offers a "My USAA" tab on Facebook, allowing members to securely access their USAA information without ever leaving the Facebook platform. They've also been a leader in social customer service via their @USAA_help profile on Twitter.

But the thing that really made me pay attention is that USAA gets it--social, word of mouth and advocacy are already ways of life at USAA. As I wrote on the Forrester blog, "Social media success doesn't start with a strategy; it doesn't even start with an understanding of the audience. Social media success starts with company culture."

The tenants of social media are built into USAA's culture. Community is even mentioned in USAA’s strategy statement. This dedication to their community has resulted in 94% of USAA members saying they intend to be lifelong members, and USAA has the highest net promoter score of ANY company in the US, beating out Apple, Trader Joe's and Jet Blue.

What sealed the deal are the stories I heard, not from USAA but from others. A peer of mine whose father was in the military is such an advocate, she told her fiance that qualifying for USAA insurance was one of the benefits of marrying her. Another peer became a lifelong fan of USAA when her father decided he should move away from his insurance company of decades and use USAA; company reps evaluated his needs and advised he was better off maintaining his current coverage. Stories like that are the lifeblood of social media!

I knew it would take a special company to lure me away from Forrester. I found it (or rather, it found me).


Tac Anderson said...

Big congrats on the move and the best part is that you get to start blogging again. I'm very happy about that.

Unknown said...

Congrats on joining USAA- a company that constantly impress me with their customer service and advocacy for their members and military families. I have been a member since 1986 and have worked with USAA (client of Ant's Eye View) since 2009.

Steve Furman said...


USAA is an incredible company and brand. You will do terrific there. I'll miss your insights and perspective as a Forrester analyst, but wish you all the best on your new adventure.


John Lovett said...

Congrats Augie! Sounds like a fantastic gig. While I know that it's tough to leave Forrester, life on the outside can be pretty great. But it looks like you've already got that lined up at USAA. I wish you rewarding futures.

Let's stay in touch. ~ John

Phil Gerbyshak said...

Congratulations Augie! Sounds like the perfect opportunity for you.

Hope to see you around more now that you're not at Forrester.

Unknown said...

Augie - We will truly miss you at Forrester, but I am so happy for you in your new role. I look forward to seeing what you'll do at USAA!! All the best, Christine

Augie Ray said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. And sorry for the delay in approving comments. I had no idea I had to do so--Blogger must've changed policies since I last blogged here a year ago.

If y'all are ever in San Antonio, please let me know and Lone Stars are on me!

Ari Herzog said...

I like seeing this blog name here again. I only wish it was Wordpress. ;)

A question about the hiring process. The company contacted you to come in for an interview, or the company contacted you to work for them? Did you have a leg up from anyone else applying blindly, and if so, how?

Augie Ray said...

Ari, Have any advice on how to port a blogger blog to a Wordpress blog? I'm open to a transition, but don't have tons of time.

To answer your question, I was contacted by a recruiter. I came to learn after being hired that a colleague from another company recommended me. The recruiter and USAA were pretty interested in me from the start, from what I can tell, because they wanted leadership experience and social media knowledge, plus my prior time in the financial services field was icing on the cake. As far as I know, from the time I got serious about USAA, they were pretty serious about me, so we needed to get through the necessary process of interviewing, having me meet potential future peers, and allowing the hiring manager to gain the necessary consensus.

Hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Augie! Looking forward to all the great work that's sure to come from USAA. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the hire!

Unknown said...

Welcome aboard!

It will be a new adventure. And yes, it is a refreshingly different company, on a noble mission.

Make sure you stop by and meet the USAA Applied Research and Innovation teams.

We take our mission very seriously.

Unknown said...

Well after losing my DoD contractor job due to the President's sequester in October 2013, I am happy to report that every creditor deferred payment and reporting late or no payments except USAA.

Despite calling the MAPS personnel, USAA after realizing I had no income except for my unemployment insurance I use while my family at another location uses what I have for my military retirement for the wife and two children.

Calling and writing USAA did little good as I get calls every other day. Today's calls were forceful and what my wife does with her time is her business...sent back overseas so we can survive the job loss and delay in hiring due to ACA, the USAA staff needs a currne tevent class on economics and the job situation globally. The time spent calling me every other day especially after I was told that maybe I received a job offer on News Year exceeds stupidity - it is pure harrassment.

Better I did not correspond with USAA at the beginning, skipped town or filed bank reuptcy with USAA's really non-assistance and archaic robot calling machine.

When all is said and donw and I finally get a new job, the sooner I shed USAA the better.
And for the associate I battled with today (unusual for USAA or any creditor to date), I have to pay for my car insurance from my unemployment income as without a car no job...using a cell phone with no internet as none is at my current location and the area has but two links: Starbucks and Bob Evans.

One would think USAA would have weathered the sequester better or realized that pushing people to bankruptcy upon a loss of a job is not good business sense.

Thank God Capital One and NFCU leadership, business plan and organization has a IQ above USAA banking quotient.

Hundreds of resumes over the past three moths with two holidays, congressional and presidential madness, and the beginning of a new business quarter for 2014, USAA needs a reality check in dealing with desperate people surviving after they have been good clients until their income vanished in a day under the Right to Work Act.

AS soon as possible, I an punting USAA form my family's portfolio.

Unknown said...

Comment moderation means no comments other than the ones USAA wants to read.

Augie Ray said...


First, I do not have comment moderation on. Google thought your comment was spam, and so it didn't get posted.

Second, if you had taken any time to check out the blog instead of immediately criticizing it, you'd see that 1) this is not a USAA controlled blog and 2) I don't work for USAA any more.

So, contrary to your hasty judgement, any comments are welcome here that are not spam or inappropriate.

Augie Ray said...

Boris, I cannot address your complaint. You griping about the way you were treated on the blog of a former USAA employee isn't likely to get you anywhere. I'm sorry you felt you were treated unfairly. My experience, and the experience of the vast majority of USAA members, is that the company does its best to be fair to all. I hope you worked out your concerns with the association.

Unknown said...

Well wait till you are unemployed...all others kept cards open and delayed payments for a month without credit reporting impacts.

Three times with USAA before one associate made life easy for my family and I.

Great to praise until you see the dark side of job loss. Comments from us vets who have been USAA since its early days see a trend of becoming another bank, and not the organization we all loved & knew.