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Times are Changing – Can you still stay close to your members?

BY JEFF KLINE

Before the dawn of the digital age, a financial institution’s operating hours and the location of its branches and ATMs were driving forces for customer value – and loyalty. But credit unions have always had a key competitive edge: They knew their members and their members knew them, a factor often cited as contributing to credit unions’ lower delinquency ratios.

But now, is the advantage of close member relationships going away? Not if you make best use of digital tools, like your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, data mining and a good email marketing system.

But first, recognize why these tools are needed.

Digital’s powerful hold

In 2012, 79% of North American financial institutions offered mobile banking channels; last year, that figure climbed to 93%. Today, consumers can do their banking right from their pocket or purse anytime they please … and that’s exactly what they want.

In its new report, “The Digital Tipping Point,” CEB notes that 81% of North American consumers prefer banking by smartphone, tablet or other digital channels. Of that group, almost a quarter say they want to only use digital channels, while the rest favor a “live” representative available when necessary. Just 19% of consumers still prefer face-to-face or other personal channels.

These and other fintech innovations make banking faster and easier for consumers, and save staff time for their financial institutions. But they also mean fewer human touches – and, for credit unions, that removes a major differentiator. It’s a Catch-22: Credit unions need to offer digital banking services to remain competitive, but digital’s do-it-yourself nature can make it challenging to stay close to members.


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