Nearly all credit unions today view digital transformation as an important part of their long-term strategy. With a projected 14% increase in customer/member churn between 2020 and 2022, those failing to prioritize the digital experience risk losing members to competitors with more robust options. As they look for innovative ways to enhance satisfaction and retain members, a growing number of financial institutions are integrating new, innovative customer service tools as part of their digital transformation strategy — an approach that can help them stand out online.
Post-pandemic digital demand
It is widely acknowledged that the pandemic dramatically accelerated digital transformation timelines across industries, with digital adoption that might otherwise have taken years occurring in mere months. According to one report, the number of monthly active neo bank users doubled between June 2019 and June 2021, and an accelerated rate of digital adoption is expected to continue as customers take advantage of the growing number of online and mobile solutions.
Finding the right tools for support
For financial institutions to compete, it is imperative to leverage modern technology with robust customer service options as part of a digital service offering. Consumers today expect easy access to their credit union’s support team and real-time responses to even the most complex requests. For credit unions to meet these demands, they must offer members the ability to engage with support teams using their preferred method of contact.
“It’s time for banks to meet customers where they are – on their screens – for every part of the service interaction, including virtual service and automated elements (like chatbots) and even, when necessary, live assistance, which no longer requires a phone call or in-person visit.” – Rick DeLisi, lead research analyst, Glia – BAI
Credit unions should look for solutions that combine a range of support options:
- Live chat: Members chat with a support agent in real time through their online or mobile application.
- Video: Credit unions address common questions with in-application videos to engage users and enhance the onboarding experience.
- Voice: Members use their smart voice device to receive answers from their credit union in real time.
- Screen sharing: A support agent views the consumer’s screen, actively taking control or guiding the user through online processes in real time.
With digital-native generations on the rise, support solutions will require ongoing innovation and investment. One study estimates that Gen Z’s direct and indirect spending power has reached up to $143 billion, so securing this younger generation’s loyalty early can reap rewards for years to come.
Digital transformation infrastructure
To take advantage of the innovation available to better service and support members, credit unions must first ensure that their infrastructure has been modernized. Many credit unions have yet to define a digital transformation strategy. Their legacy technology stacks tend to be outdated, and even the smallest of digital changes can prove to be costly and inadequate.
By modernizing, credit unions can innovate without the need for cumbersome, sometimes years-long upgrades. Updated digital platforms are available that can empower credit unions to deliver new digital services quickly, integrating with best-of-breed solutions that best serve the needs of their unique member base.
What should credit unions look for as they embark on a digital transformation initiative to better serve their members? Digital banking solutions are not one size fits all. Some of the questions to ask when beginning to evaluate potential partners include the following:
- Is your solution cloud-based?
Solutions hosted in the public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), deliver high availability, improved security, faster speed to market, improved scalability, and lower cost to operate. Choosing a cloud-based solution that is multi-tenant, where financial institutions share a common but highly configurable code base, ensures that all clients are always on the latest version of the software and can avoid time-consuming and costly individual upgrades.
- What level of support does your company provide to its clients?
Credit unions should look for vendors who provide them with 24×7 support. Small and large institutions alike should also have easy access to senior leaders to ensure both strategic and operational alignment. In addition, some companies offer support services to respond to member phone or chat inquiries on a financial institution’s behalf. Having the ability to expand an internal support team during peak periods or to outsource this function altogether to a trusted partner can be a valuable option.
- How can my institution work with you to develop a unique solution?
The right technology partner can support integrations with innovative fintechs through APIs. Highly configurable, out-of-the-box solutions are available, or institutions with their own development resources can partner with solution providers to create a truly unique user experience.
- Will you continue to invest in innovation to ensure a relevant, industry-leading solution?
Digital transformation requires ongoing innovation as the ecosystem continues to evolve. In addition to understanding what is on a digital provider’s near-term roadmap, it is equally important to learn what initiatives and processes are in place to drive transformation in the longer term. Choosing a provider that is committed to enhancing its digital banking platform is critical to ensuring a future-proofed solution.
Digital adoption is here to stay, and credit unions with modern, flexible tools are best positioned to retain and grow members. Throughout any digital banking activity, access to help and support is paramount. In a world where consumers demand instant gratification, support must be immediately available to users through their preferred method of contact, be it chat, video, voice, or a combination of vehicles. Prioritizing not only the digital banking experience but the support tools within it will help credit unions combat the growing rate of churn in today’s competitive environment.
Jennifer Dimenna leads Apiture’s product team to deliver innovative solutions and services to Apiture’s client base. Prior to Apiture, Jennifer has held numerous product roles at financial technology providers including S1 Corporation, ACI, Q2, and Zenmonics.