Article

Building Member Loyalty Through Change

thumbs up and five yellow stars
Shanon McLachlan Photo
President
Symitar, a division of Jack Henry

3 minutes

There’s a real opportunity in the fact that less than half of consumers feel confident about their financial institution.

There have been many conversations about the fundamental changes resulting from the pandemic, but not nearly enough of them have focused on the long-term vision of how to build loyalty through this change.

Just as credit unions had to think fast and adapt to a new way of banking, so did members. What didn’t change was how members wanted to feel when banking at their credit unions—understood, respected, protected and, most importantly, valued. It’s now more important than ever before for credit unions to take the extra time to better understand their members’ financial needs and offer personalized products and services that help build lasting loyalty.

Before the pandemic, Jack Henry surveyed consumers between the ages of 25 and 55 about their current financial situations, relationships and interactions with their financial institutions, and the way they manage finances. Only 47% said they were at least somewhat confident about their relationships with their financial institutions. Knowing that less than half of consumers lack this confidence reveals an opportunity for change. Now and post-pandemic, consumers have an even closer eye on their finances, presenting opportunities for credit unions.  

Increasing financial confidence starts with building trust and credibility. That same Jack Henry survey reported that members need to see their credit unions as honest and ethical, reliable and dependable, easy to do business with, financially strong, and as providers of good service. Being listened to was also important. While these attributes might have come easily in branch conversations, credit unions need to be able to translate them digitally.

Data-driven personalization and self-service are not enough to create loyalty; credit unions need to combine the power of digital technology with a human touch to make a difference. In moments of need, select credit unions are making loans more accessible and building lifelong relationships as well as better understanding their members’ preferences and responding to their needs through a simplified, human-centered digital banking experience.

Take $176 million Highmark Credit Union, Rapid City, South Dakota, an institution that converted to a new digital banking platform at the onset of the pandemic. This new platform became central to its communication strategy; it reduced call volumes from about 250-350 a day to 130-140. Plus, employees communicating over digital chat were able to do so more efficiently.

The secure, authenticated chat was answered promptly and could be used to exchange documents. Even after the extended hours ended, representatives were resolving issues like fraud charges that may have kept members up at night. Other popular requests ranged from services as simple as address changes to as in-depth as initiating loans online. Members received all this support from the convenience of a mobile banking app backed by live, local support. Building trust and credibility can also apply to the way frontline staff can interact with members and the tools available to resolve member issues at their moment of need quicker and more efficiently.

Credit unions that know and understand their members’ needs can then market more efficiently and sell in the context of personal service. Those that do are monitoring member activities on digital channels and responding with relevant and personalized offers that address members’ unique financial needs. For example, $534 million OMNI Community Credit Union, Battle Creek, Michigan, plans to use technology that easily maps out and automates the member journey. Leveraging data to personalize offers that may be most valuable to members, credit union team members can provide detailed communications and set expectations on deliverables from origination through fulfillment.

Another example of how credit unions continue to build their relationships is mobile card controls. These are more than fraud stoppers; they can serve as frequent reminders of concern and assistance.

Now is the time for credit unions to rethink the member experience, reimagine member support, and keep a personal touch in their digital offerings. They should take the time to listen, provide personalized recommendations and offer a human-centered digital experience. Digital strategies are evolving faster than ever before, which presents a unique and timely opportunity to build loyalty, strengthen relationships and ultimately sell in the context of personal service. Institutions that are delivering personalized experiences are driving loyalty and building members for life.

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.

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