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Online Account Opening Is Just the Beginning of the Digital Experience

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By Joe Phelan

4 minutes

Five best practices for meeting expectations throughout members’ electronic interactions with your credit union

Having an outstanding digital experience in banking is attractive to just about everyone these days. Most mobile-first account holders want to experience banking digitally and do so in an Amazon-like way. Meanwhile, most financial institutions fail to realize their customers want more than digital account opening, the standard fare offered in the channel.

Financial services research and consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors, a CUES Supplier member and strategic provider based in Scottsdale, Arizona, advises FIs to think about their digital banking in more expansive and strategic ways. This blog delves into some of Cornerstone’s important recommendations—their expertise should come in handy to credit unions looking to elevate digital banking experiences.

Mobile Account Holders Want a Richer Banking Experience

Awareness and consideration of digital from an account holder’s or prospect’s perspective are highly important when establishing a digital presence.

Not only do account holders have higher digital expectations, but further improvement of the digital channel can help reach today’s unbanked or underbanked. Opportunities can abound, but rethinking the digital channel is required.

Cornerstone points out that many FIs fail to see the greater potential of the channel and don’t understand the importance of “providing contextual product offerings, executing data-driven campaigns, and delivering a tight, easy fulfillment process.” Awareness and consideration of digital from an account holder’s or prospect’s perspective are highly important when establishing a digital presence.

Cornerstone finds five most effective practices in delivering the presence required:

  1. Personalization. FIs must know their customers from their devices, and quickly pre-fill or authenticate based on that knowledge.
  2. Funding accounts ought to include easy, immediate options.
  3. Disclosures should appear to advocate for the customer, not advocate on behalf of the financial institution’s legal counsel.
  4. Execution must be fast and fully electronic without a need to use physical channels.
  5. Experience needs to feel familiar, like buying online instead of banking.

The Technology Perspective

Onboarding customers to accounts, online banking, and e-statements, and getting them down the road with fulfillment, payment streams and engagement requires effective technology. Cornerstone says meeting the needs described requires “a LOT of handoffs between different systems. But it’s extremely important. Digital onboarding is now just onboarding.” While digital AO is required, fully effective digital banking requires thoroughness met through the integration, optimization and flexibility of end-to-end technology aligned to a mission of giving digital account holders fantastic experiences.

A foremost consideration is offering a marketplace environment with a checkout process—one that allows FIs not only to onboard new digital account holders but also cross-sell new products beyond simple checking and savings. Another success driver is delivering plug-and-play integration, which can aid personalization of, and reduce friction from, customers’ digital experiences. It can also aid sales and marketing teams’ efforts through CRM or other marketing-related integration.

Digital Can Help In-Branch Sales and Marketing, Too

Cornerstone sees a lot of potential in the digital channel related to retention and advocacy, both online and in-branch. Cornerstone analysts find, “The rapid rise of digital banking has significantly grown contact center activity. However, incidental sales leads from branch traffic have decreased. The adage ‘Go where the people are’ couldn’t be more appropriate. Digital sales techniques and tools are critical to drive opportunities for all points of delivery.”

Growing the Digital Experience Requires Committed Management

According to Cornerstone, “Historically, the financial accounting sensibility of bankers is to count what they can see and take for granted what they cannot see.” A committed management team can change this by establishing and demanding action, while also informing reluctant managers that a digital sales and marketing approach can aid in-branch and offline efforts.

At Q2, we have taken Cornerstone and others’ expertise to heart. We’re working to deliver such a digital banking experience through our Gro digital sales and marketplace platform, realizing that onboarding only goes so far. While the future of banking remains digital, a wonderful experience with digital delivery throughout the member’s experience can aid growth efforts for any FI.

Joe Phelan is sales manager of CUES Supplier member Q2 Gro, based in Austin, Texas. Many of the points in this blog post come from Cornerstone Advisors report, “Digitizing Sales: How Digital Technologies Will Replace or Support Offline Sales.” Download the report and learn more about making digital sales work for your FI. 

Register for a related Webinar!

Joe Phelan will present the CUES webinar "Account Acquisition & Onboarding: How to Deliver Exceptional Member Experiences" at 1 p.m. Central time on Jan. 22.
Account Acquisition & Onboarding: How to Deliver Exceptional Member Experiences
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