Becoming a Digital Credit Union A Two-Way Street

By Jeff Rendel 

Rendel Jeff

Many credit union strategic planning sessions close with an objective or central idea that reads, somewhere along the lines of “Expand our digital reach to members,” or “Design a credit union-wide digital experience,” or “Increase members’ digital engagement with our credit union.” 

Add findings from current research that displays growth in omni-digital members (all phone, tablet, and laptop) is outpacing omni-channel members (they’re digital, but stop by a branch or call from time to time), and it’s evident that digital engagement with members is a strategic inevitability.

How are credit unions adjusting their business models to meet the trends shaping their members’ expectations and credit unions’ abilities to serve members? Responses from several dozen credit unions of all sizes indicate that “going digital” in credit unions is a two-way street: how a credit union engages with its members and how members engage with their credit union. 

Let’s explore common themes and practical methods from more than 40 credit unions nationwide.

Engaging with Members

Digital marketing visibly led the way as the most effective approach to market to members. Email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing customer information files (MCIF), digital advertising, Big Data analytics, and artificial intelligence carried credit unions’ messages into the tailored and preferred space of members. Digital marketing proved more successful than conventional marketing due to its pinpoint accuracy, economic advantages, and comparative ease of execution.

Digital service brought branch deployment and design, and credit union professionals, into the digital space, as well. Interactive teller machines, video-centered interactions with offsite tellers, and lobby-based, tablet-powered service brought assistance from “behind the counter” and into relationship-focused consultations that increased members’ ease and convenience (a chief predictor of repeat and increased business). In many cases, walk-in traffic was most often served digitally: members benefitted from the simplicity and credit unions gained from the efficiencies.

Digital onboarding and feedback kept credit unions in touch with their members and aware of service dependability and variations. Digital onboarding helped engage members soon and long after account opening; and, assisted members, new and long-term, in benefitting from all features of their relationships. Digital feedback, especially immediately following transactions, was instrumental in championing successes in service and – equally important – ensuring a consistent and branded experience across all member-facing platforms.    

Engaging with Your Credit Union

Digital access proved much more than checking balances and paying bills. Omni-digital members had zero interest in banking from the branch. Account opening, applying for loans, text updates, funding (even new deposit account funding), and finalizing documents via digital means was “business as usual” for credit unions’ members. While most members could tend to finances via a credit union’s app or mobile website, a human connection was needed from time to time. These credit unions met members’ needs through extended or 24/7 call center availability or secure chat features once inside the mobile or online portal.

Digital ease helped credit unions acknowledge that members may love their credit union, but they will be brutal about its app and mobile website. Single sign-on systems, remote deposit capture, P2P payments, picture pay products, card controls, and loan shopping tools (VIN scan, mobile loan approvals, comparison tools) all added ease and control to the member and her or his experience. With ease being the driver of experience, these credit unions committed to creating digital simplicity and refinement in the, often, multifaceted world of financial services.    

Digital education put the strength of understanding at members’ fingertips – literally. Credit unions built their knowledge centers to focus on education, recommendations (analytics helped a lot here), and decisions (“Next Step” opportunities to keep the buying process moving). Knowledge centers were combinations of video tutorials (none longer than two minutes), “What If?” scenarios, and even games (which always ended with a message about the value of the credit union). Of most interest was the acceptance and utilization of digital education by all demographics; it wasn’t just a Millennial thing.   

Research has revealed that mobile/digital members: have higher retention rates; use more products and services; generate more revenue; and, are less costly to administer. And, digital-first members are only growing in number. Consider the guidance from this national set of credit unions as you look to digitally engage with your members. It’s a two-way street that produces financial and experiential value for your members and, as a result, enterprise value for your credit union. 

Jeff Rendel is a Certified Speaking Professional and president of Rising Above Enterprises, and works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners. For info: jeff@jeffrendel.comor


Section: Standard
Word Count: 952
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Copyright Year: 2019
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