Knowing your members and providing a degree of personal service that the big banks struggle to match has always formed a core part of the credit union model. That approach worked well when the in-branch experience defined banking, but increasingly that’s not the case. A recent study conducted for the American Bankers Association found that just 17 percent of consumers preferred to visit their branch, while 73 percent favored online banking or mobile apps.
So how has your customer experience strategy evolved in response? Clearly the way Americans bank has changed, and you won’t bring them back to the branch with comfy chairs and good coffee. If you want to improve your member experience and keep up with bigger players in the industry, you’ll need to find ways to transfer that members-first credit union ethos into the digital age.
Identify the “Pain Points”
Consumers with a digital-first mentality have become used to vendors carving out a market niche by identifying areas of friction in their daily experience and making them go away. Don’t have time for the supermarket? Get groceries delivered. Don’t have time to cook? Have DoorDash or UberEats bring something from your favorite restaurant.
Identifying similar pain points in your members’ banking experience will be central to your ability to attract and retain them and to increase the volume and value of business they choose to place in your hands. While every customer will have a different set of priorities or pet peeves, some are predictable enough to be recognized and planned for in advance.
It’s not easy for credit unions to get a toehold in the digital-banking space. Large credit unions can allocate resources to creating their own apps and websites or customizing existing ones, but even the largest can’t compete dollar for dollar with the big banks. For smaller credit unions, the only options are to buy something off the shelf or be left behind completely.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply offer online banking or a banking app. If your digital presence isn’t competitive with the big banks’ offerings in terms of features, convenience and speed of execution, you won’t get the returns you’re hoping for on your investment. Over time, your members will simply move to an institution that fulfills their expectations.
To satisfy your members, you’ll need a digital presence that can compete with the big banks’ offerings on even terms. Ideally your offering would also provide excellent personalization options, perpetuating the member-first credit union spirit.
Piecing together your own digital presence by bolting together off-the-shelf apps and services can create frustrations for your members. The mobile apps and web-based services that provide the best fit for your individual needs won’t necessarily work well together and provide a cohesive experience. Even worse, your members might need to learn one set of steps for the mobile app and a different set for the website.
That kind of inconsistency can be maddening, especially if not all banking services are supported on one or the other platform. That’s a real issue if your members live in areas where cellular or broadband service can be spotty.
The ideal answer would be a digital option that’s both comprehensive and consistent across platforms.
You’ll still need to transition to your new platform successfully, from both the technical and customer-service perspectives. However capable your tech team, that’s a process filled with potential sources of friction for your members.
You’ll need a support team that’s comprehensively trained and ready to respond from Day One, because nothing’s more discouraging for your members than inadequate support. You’ll also need to supply clear, easy-to-follow guidelines for members enrolling in the new system, whether they’re “going digital” for the first time or transitioning from an existing platform.
In a perfect world, your members’ existing sign-on credentials might even transfer seamlessly to the new platform so they won’t need to create or memorize new logins and passwords.
Clumsy, Impersonal Marketing
Credit unions have always been at their best when they knew their members personally as friends and neighbors. That’s not something that scales well as your credit union grows, and it’ll get exponentially harder as visits to the branch dwindle.
There are a couple of ways you can cope with that loss of the direct connection. One is to take a scattershot approach, throwing out promotions and marketing materials on a “best guess” basis and seeing what sticks. The other is to harness your new digital platform to yield insights into your members’ needs as a group and as individuals. Surveys have shown that most consumers are OK with sharing their data with you if it results in improved levels of service and personalization. Giving your users full digital control over their accounts — with individual dashboards and deep personalization options — meets your members’ service expectations while allowing you to gain an unprecedented level of insight into their wants and preferences.
There’s little doubt which of those options will yield better results, and — as a bonus — those personalized services and recommendations can help strengthen member loyalty and reduce turnover.
Shaky Data Security
Choosing a financial institution requires a degree of trust on the consumer’s part, and it’s important to remember that consumers’ trust is conditional. If your security isn’t up to par and a data breach results, you’ll be a long time regaining your members’ trust.
Here again, credit unions can’t match the level of in-house resources the big banks bring to bear against hacking and ransomware. Providing your members with digital solutions and drawing on their usage to generate analytics places the burden on your credit union to maintain the integrity and privacy of all the user data you collect.
If you’re not prepared to tackle that challenge on your own, you’ll need to draw on your digital services provider’s expertise to protect your members from loss and your institution from liability.
Step Boldly Into the Digital Experience
Delivering a digital platform that removes these areas of friction from your members’ digital experience is exactly what Lumin Digital does. Drawing on parent company PSCU’s decades of experience in supporting credit unions, Lumin can provide a fast, sleek, modern, secure and fully integrated digital platform for your members.
With Lumin’s software and support, even the smallest credit unions will be able to compete with the big banks on features, security and personalization. Contact us today to request a demo, and find out how Lumin Digital can help improve your member experience.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and freelance writer living and working in Atlantic Canada. He has also written widely on technology, general business topics and personal finance, drawing on the experience gained in earlier careers selling computers and financial services. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia Community College, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.