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Creating Genuine Relationships with Members

As many credit union executives know, communication is a crucial aspect of building long-standing relationships with members. Credit unions need to use each channel and communication touchpoint effectively to convey important messages or educate members about new products and services. These communications can even offer tailored member services to specific groups of members related to their financial wellness, age or preferences.

In order to build better relationships through member communications, credit unions should attempt to strike the right balance between overcommunication and radio silence. Many times, consumers today are overwhelmed with information and dislike another source of “spam;” yet, regular check-ins show that your credit union cares about each individual member. When communicating with members, keep in mind some general best practices.

Consistency across channels

One issue that credit unions face today is having an inconsistent voice and brand across channels. By cultivating a uniform, branded experience across all channels, credit unions present themselves as professional and trustworthy. Members also value the means to access their credit union through multiple channels, and each time members reach out, their experience should reflect the credit unions’ brand and values.

This is even true with in-person interactions since members are often driven to visit their local branches through digital or print communication. Credit unions need to ensure that their frontline staff are aware of recent promotional campaigns, such as a campaign on holiday loans, and can answer any questions about the member service terms and requirements. Even beyond credit union-wide promotional events, frontline staff should be mindful to observe whether their CRM records offer any tailored outreach to specific members as they enter the branch. If a teller takes the time to ask whether a member had questions about a recent car loan offer or how to enroll for digital statements, that can easily turn into an opportunity to deepen that member’s relationship with the credit union while offering a valued service. 

Cross-sell carefully

As credit unions communicate with their members regularly, whether federally required communications or otherwise, each of these touchpoints offer credit unions an opportunity to educate their members about products and services. Credit unions can take the time to introduce new offers in standard communications, such as with an insert into a mailed statement. They should also ensure that these new offers are included on the website, such as on a banner or popup.

Each point of communication about a new product or service should help the member. In this age of one-to-one marketing, credit unions have the opportunity to use member data to offer members the products and services that would be most helpful and meaningful to their individual needs. However, while communications should be relevant, large scale communications about new services are still valuable, as members’ circumstances can often change quickly.

Timing

Credit unions need to seek the communications sweet spot by keeping members happy and informed, without becoming a nuisance. Digital statement enrollment can help enable regular interactions with important information about accounts, which also gives credit unions the chance to place targeted marketing on members’ statements.

Through these digital channels, credit unions can use landing pages and calls to action unobtrusively, offering members an easy way to find out more, or ignore promotions that they do not find interesting.  Because of this digital experience, credit unions can avoid sending too many promotions through the mail, which can be both overwhelming for members, and expensive for the credit union. Print can still be valuable, however, since some members respond to paper communications better.

Keeping the Branch in Focus

Many credit unions find branch strategy a challenging topic. The industry knows that branches can be expensive to maintain and that many of the largest financial institutions are reducing their footprints. For credit unions, having a community presence is very important to build relationships with members and potential members. To make the best use of their branches, credit unions should look to find ways for digital communications to drive members to their local branches, for strategic interactions. These higher-level interactions can include communications about wealth management or mortgage services and should focus on creating a personal relationship instead of a one-off transaction, such as depositing a check.

Data

Members provide real time data about their daily lives, specifically regarding digital payments such as debit or credit card activity. Each piece of information from these payments can drive marketing opportunities to serve members. In particular, credit unions can carefully use this data to help members become more financially responsible, by grouping transactions in a meaningful way. Members may notice that their coffee habit has gotten out of control if they see how much each latte adds up to over a month.

Showcasing data to members in meaningful, intuitive ways is an important aspect of communication. These trends can help members realize their lack of savings or bad spending habits, and inspire them to focus on financial wellness.

By communicating regularly about tools that promote financial wellness, such as savings and money market accounts, credit unions help their members become more financially stable over time. As members create expendable income, these tools can enable them to save for retirement or long-term goals. This data helps credit unions market the right products to each individual member, instead of creating depth of wallet for its own sake. 

Credit unions have a wealth of opportunities to communicate with their members, whether sending monthly account statements online or in the branch. In our fast-paced world, members are constantly flooded with information, so the right communication techniques are more important than ever. By being mindful of these best practices, credit unions can create deeper relationships with their members, by timely, data-driven, meaningful communications that are consistent across all channels.

Griffin McGahey is president at HC3. Formerly High Cotton, HC3 is a data-driven technology company delivering customer communications. For more information please visit, HC3.IO

This content is for CU BUSINESS eMagazine + WEB ACESS and THE TEAM BUILDER (GROUP SUBSCRIPTION) members only.
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