The writing has been on the wall that credit unions need strategic digital advances for their communication and member experience strategies. In 2020, the industry was forced to expedite these plans. What once may have been a five-year journey has moved to a pressing priority. As credit unions develop their new strategies to keep a personal, member-centric approach with less in-person interactions, they must also keep a steady focus on their strategic differentiators. The good news is that the best of both worlds is available; the industry has been preparing for this over the last decade.
The rush for a more digital experience should not crush the enterprise-level scope of the strategy. It’s important to remember that digital is much more than an app; it’s a comprehensive strategy that, when properly designed, fuels growth, innovation and partnership.Credit unionsshould be thinking about how their digital experiences can play a role in larger aspects of their business, areas such as data, lending and membership growth.
Driving insights and personalization with data
Success maintaining personal relationships in a remote world hinges on a credit union’s ability to use data. Traditionally, data collection was a cumbersome process that involved labor-intensive spreadsheets that often resulted in incomplete, or segmented data.Now, institutions can aggregate data from all areas of business in user-friendly, easy-to-use dashboards – and all in a matter of seconds instead of days. Finally, credit unions can better understand members’ behaviorand use this information to offer customized solutions thatmeet their needs.
Imagine a conversation where an employee can sell in the context of service. This kind of conversational marketing is the goal of full-service digital engagement. Suchpersonal offers can be madein any way the member wants to connect – voice, in person, chat-style message, and whatever comes next. Members want options. And, they also want a human connection from time to time, they don’t want to feel like another “ticket.” Meeting their needs means having data combined with technology that can also offer access to the support of a familiar face – someone to help members manage their finances and make better financial decisions in the channel of their choice, at their moment of need. Credit unions that fail to offer options may risk losing relationships to competitors down the line.
A customer expectation survey, published by HubSpot, polled nearly 1,000 adults in the U.S. and found that customers expect to “use the channel that’s most convenient for them, or best suited to their issue.” Those channels were phone, email and live chat, in that order, with 62 percent using email and 43 percent for live chat. In banking, these interactions are not only to check balances and pay bills, but also to open accounts, apply for loans and finalize documents. Now imagine if these interactions were highly personalized, and backed by a familiar face at your institution, that’s a banking relationship that members will want to keep investing in.
Lending a helping hand
As noted in this survey, it’s important to consider the bigger verticals in a digital memberexperience. It’s not all about checking balances, modern credit union members want to be able to manage most of theirfinancial needs with the convenience and service that digital tools provide. Take lending for instance – digital advances are transforming the loan industry by offering consumer and commercial borrowers a simpler, more efficient and transparent experience. Modern members expect financial institutions to match the digitally driven service levelsthey see from non-bank providers. Credit unions are digitally processing applications, delivering fast decisions, and providing timely funding in a way that they can scale. And loan lifecycle management systems are helping to manage and service borrowers through all stages of their financial needs and life stages, building long-term relationships, and meeting them wherever they may be, in a click of a button.
From college graduation to preparing for retirement (and every milestone in between), members want to feel valued, understood, respected, and protected. They’re looking to their credit unions to increase their financial confidence and help them make smart decisions in their moments of need – no matter how big or small. Credit unions have the unique ability to be difference-makers, especially in times like these. Lending to members and businesses in need during the challenging times created by the pandemic can forge and strengthen bonds that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Opening new possibilities
As America settles into a new phase of work and life culture, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on change and grow membership. More people will be working remotely and moving to rural areas, presenting a timely opportunity to offer a local banking advantage. What does this mean for the future of your credit union? Opportunities. Now is the chance to embrace new possibilities and meet the modern needs of your members, wherever they may be. Credit unions should consider offering members flexibility and choices when it comes to banking products and delivery channels. Building a digital strategy around open technology will build a stronger foundation for modern membership engagement.
Credit unions need the option to create a strategic mix of third-party solutions that best meet their unique business plans, but they must be well integrated. Open platforms allow for such connections to new systems and technologies, meaning greater access to data and the ability to offer more tailored services to members. Find partners who empower your credit union with choices and keep your vested interests in mind.
Such partnerships will enable your credit union to adopt a modern member engagement modelwhile spending less time worrying about issues of security and compliance. Instead, credit unions can focus on building customized systems to stay at the forefront of competition. Thesenewfound efficiency gains can allowcredit unions to develop new sources of revenue thatcombat margin compression.
Is your credit union future-ready?
The evolution of technology continues to modernize the way members prefer to bank. All credit unions have access to technology that can compete with the services that big techs, fintechs, USAA and major banks can offer, and even surpass them. In fact, there are mid-sized credit unions today that are beating top-ten banks at digital key performance indicators such as app launch to app usable times. Developing a digital strategy to meet modern membership needs is just as important as when the industry transitioned to online banking, but it’s happening with unprecedented speed and urgency. Decisions made today will shape the future of an institution and escalate the credit union’s people-helping-people philosophy to new heights.
Shanon McLachlan is President of Symitar,a division of Jack Henry. Symitar has been selected as the primary technology partner by 700 credit unions, serving as a single source for integrated, enterprise-wide automation and as a single point of contact and support. Additional information is available atsymitar.com/modernmember.