By Jeff Chambers
In today’s hyperconnected digital world, it can be difficult for credit unions to stay top of mind and top of wallet amongst current and potential members. It is imperative that credit unions dedicate the necessary resources to leverage digital tools to thrive in an increasingly competitive financial services industry.
Two trends in particular – changing consumer preferences and fast approaching technological advances – are shifting and impacting how credit unions conduct their day-to-day business operations and measure success.
Changing Consumer Preferences
It is no secret that consumer preferences and technologies are rapidly evolving. Research indicates more than half of all financial institution consumers across the country prefer a great digital experience through a mobile channel over the most competitive rates and fees. As such, there is capital – more than $10 billion annually – directed into technology firms and fintech startups vying for a piece of the action.
For their part, big banks are responding with huge investments of their own. Chase and Wells Fargo are annually investing hundreds of millions of dollars in digital transformation, and their customers are experiencing (and becoming accustomed to) evolved and expanded digital solutions.
Whether we want to admit it or not, big banks are outperforming some credit union segments according to studies that rank the quality and experience of digital banking across larger banks, regional banks and credit unions.
Future of Digital Service
Today, while credit unions have always focused on positive customer experiences, their current infrastructures often create challenges on that front. Members are often forced to utilize a number of different channels to get the answers and outcomes they desire. They might log into their mobile banking account only to find the information they need is not there. They might call into the call center, but there often is very little integration between the mobile device and the call center. They might walk into a branch, again discovering little integration between the mobile device and the branch experience.
The entire process can be slow and cumbersome, ultimately generating member frustration.
In the coming years, there will need to be a convergence of these services – including statements, payments, point-of-sale transactions, call center and branch interactions. Members are going to see a parity across channels – whether they are using a mobile device or desktop, calling into a call center or going into a branch.
It is expected that a member will very easily be able to do any type of business equally across any of these channels, and there will be integrated awareness across each of the channels. This will result in a highly integrated, seamless experience that is intuitive for the member to use.
In the longer term, to continue to provide the personalized and member-centric treatment that sets credit unions apart – the industry is moving towards higher levels of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Credit unions are striving to emulate some of the personalization members receive when visiting a branch through their digital channels, so members feel like they are understood and being appropriately engaged at all times.
Partnering for Success
As the velocity of digital transformation and big-bank spending increases, credit unions are dynamically working with internal teams, their boards and outside partners to develop new digital strategies. Now more than ever, credit union leadership teams and the companies they partner with must work together to regularly evaluate the credit union’s digital competitiveness, potential gaps, member experience levels and opportunities to improve digital capabilities.
The fintech ecosystem is rapidly evolving and credit unions are responding with investments in technology and partnerships with companies like Lumin Digital that drive adaptive innovation to their members.
Lumin Digital, as an example, has a platform based on the same backend technologies used by companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple. This allows credit unions to offer a continually evolving and positive digital experience for their members that ties into all their channels, through a seamless, intuitive member experience.
In addition, these types of systems utilize predictive modeling, to take the information to the next level and allow credit unions to truly engage and support their members in a personalized way.
By partnering with companies like Lumin Digital, and others, to find high value ways to offer enhanced capabilities and services to members, credit unions will not only be able to unify all channels and improve the member experience, but also thrive in an increasingly interconnected and digital industry.
Credit unions today should have an unwavering focus on employing new digital technologies and methodologies to better support their members, and they should be willing to make the essential investments and strategic partnerships to make those advances successful.
Jeff Chambers is president of Lumin Digital and has an extensive background in the banking and credit union industries. Prior to Lumin Digital, he served as COO of Alkami Technology and Vice President of Global Product Management of ACI Worldwide. Lumin Digital, a PSCU company, provides members of PSCU Owner credit unions with a tightly integrated and customized experience that rivals the offerings available from the big banks.