Embracing the Member Experience Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

business man with arms out for embrace
Oak Tree Business Systems Inc.

6 minutes

Six things credit unions can do to ensure members will love them now and into the future

In light of the recent global pandemic, it is understandable to have anxiety about the future path of credit unions and the general economy. However, even in these uncertain, isolating times, we must forge on and virtually embrace our members.

Credit union members are looking for financial stability even while the world around them is unpredictable. So it follows that credit unions that provide genuine compassion and relevant financial solutions through a personalized customer experience will stand out in a sea of big banks and fintechs. If you use member data to help you cater to their specific needs, you won’t be alone. In 2020, according to Gartner, more than 40% of data analytics projects will relate to customer experience.

Here are six things credit unions can do to improve today’s member experience and sustain growth in 2020 and beyond.

1.    Assess and Address Key Touchpoints

Although it is important to provide members with strong phone and branch support, it’s not enough. Members are seeking technology, speed and convenience that they have grown to expect in their everyday lives. In the credit union world, this is most visible in how well account opening, access to money, personalized experience, and card or checking rewards are provided.

The more transparency your credit union can maintain with members, the faster you can shore up any pain points that may arise. Maybe your mobile app crashes or a certain branch has longer wait times than the others. Whatever the pain point, the faster you can identify it, the less business you will lose.

If you are struggling with multiple pain points, try not to get overwhelmed. Choose the most significant pain point and create a visual member journey map. This will help you identify roadblocks and fix the pain point one step at a time.

2.    Keep an Eye on Digital Delivery

At the end of 2019, CUs were holding strong in the credit card debt market, over $64.7 billion in consumer outstanding balance, a 6.9% year-over-year increase. They also excel in the car loans market, capturing over 30% of nationwide loans. However, even these impressive numbers are only a little over a 4% gain from Q4 2018. This slowed growth is largely in part to the rise of digital banks.

Digital banks excel in the sign-up process and quickly capturing market share. To improve your members’ overall digital experience with your credit union, consider the following improvements:

  • Place your "Open/Apply" button toward the top of the screen (before the user has to scroll) and in more than one place on the website. Choose user-friendly language such as “Get Started,” “Become a Member,” “Open an Account,” etc. The more direct, the better.
  • Add the secure site symbol (in the browser address bar) to all application pages so the member never feels unsafe when entering sensitive information.
  • Break the loan or membership application into easy-to-complete sections, and provide a way for the member to come back to the application if something comes up (so they don't have to start over).
  • Provide chat or phone support information on every page of the application.
  • Give instant account access after the user has successfully completed the application.
  • Provide loan forms that follow your state regulations and consumer guidelines.
  • Follow up with members until they are successfully using the account.
  • Comply with Americans With Disabilities Act forms and regulations.
  • Customize the thank you page, provide a branch manager thank you call, etc.

3.    Provide for Their Need for Speed (and Convenience)

As millennials move into the sweet spot of their careers, their influence regarding credit union services is increasing. Younger members are seeking speed and convenience. They are not afraid to switch financial institutions and base their membership largely in part to positive relationships. This is the future of customer experience.

Two services that continue to see growth are P2P payments (like Zelle and Venmo) and A2A transfers (such as TransferNow from Fiserv, Brookfield, Wisconsin). These funds movers appeal to a cashless society in which bills are securely paid online and debit and credit cards are the norm.

4.    Upgrade Your Mobile App

In July 2019, it was found that of the over a million internal transfers, 77% were initiated from a mobile device. If you have yet to invest in upgrading your credit union’s app, this statistic suggests that your members may want an app that meets all of their financial needs.

While apps like Zelle and Venmo are gaining in popularity, they are still third-party apps. Many members would prefer to place P2P and A2A transfers within their credit union’s app, both for the security of their personal information and for convenience. If both services are available within your app, members are more likely to take advantage of cross-sells and less likely to go somewhere else to send money to friends and family.

5.    Wield Your Secret Weapon: Trust

CUs are scrambling to implement P2P payments and A2A transfers, invest in their mobile apps, and provide a quality digital experience for the good reason that member experience plays a pivotal role in CU growth.

Members might not come out and say they don't trust your credit union as much as a top mainstream bank. But if, through personalized service you learn this from your members, you can educate them about your credit union and why they should trust it more.

You can also express to the member that your business goals align with their best interest. Once the member feels a genuine connection, they are more likely to remain loyal and seek financial services.

To bolster member engagement and boost the return on investment, it is essential to build deeper relationships with your members. By communicating transparently, having member-first policies, and talking up your solid security program and competitive pricing, you can acquire and retain valued members.

6.    Pledge Yourself to a Member Experience Transformation

According to Fiserv, 75% of the world’s 50 largest global financial institutions have pledged themselves to some form of a customer experience transformation.

For example, USAA, an insurance, banking, investments and retirement company that serves millions of military members and their families, sends its employees through empathy training. Chime, a key player in the fintech market, sends each customer feedback item received to every employee so team members can better understand the company’s customers.

Celebrate birthdays, sympathize with tragedies—including related to the coronavirus, go above and beyond to show you care. Once members feel more like family and less like a number, they are more likely to keep their business with you.

Not only is it critical to retain existing customers, but also to consistently acquire new ones. While "customer experience" is a broad term, its focus does not waver. Credit unions must look past mainstream popular products and instead choose products that their customers specifically demand. Doing so can create a personalized experience that can increase referrals and multiple product conversions.

In 2020, customers are in charge of their financial experience. Listening to them is not an option; it’s an imperative.

Richard Gallagher is CEO of CUES Supplier member Oak Tree Business Systems Inc., Big Bear Lake, California. With over 37 years’ experience serving credit unions, Oak Tree offers a comprehensive line of membership documents and lending forms along with marketing services that speak to your credit union demographics. Take advantage of our easy-to-use forms and top-notch customer service, plus stay compliant nationwide.

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