In an age of increasingly complex relationships, members expect an omni-channel relationship with their credit union.
The moment a member walks into a branch, they are inundated with the brand of the credit union. They will be greeted by staff trained a certain way, receive documents with the same format, and observe the credit union logo throughout the building. When they go online, they expect the same experience. Developing an omni-channel experience will give credit unions the ability to keep their identity of “not-for-profit cooperatives serving members” in the middle of a digital revolution. This identity must be communicated through every channel available to financial consumers. Potential members may never step into a branch, but with a strong online and mobile presence, they may be attracted to the credit union’s brand through digital channels. Creating an omni-channel strategy to build brand loyalty will further communicate the vision of a credit union.
In order to develop omni-channel experiences, credit unions should follow 6 steps:
1) Build An Online Presence
Consumers trust brands. When people go shopping, they instantly determine the quality of products and services based on prior experiences. In the past, credit unions could rely on a strong branch presence within a community to build reputation. Through community outreach and exceptional service to members, credit unions would live or die by their branches. Therefore, branch design and staffing were vital investments to establish a strong brand. However, with an interconnected world brought on by the internet, people now look online for their financial needs. Credit unions must address this new channel of member-experiences and develop an online strategy to propel into the future.
2) Invest In Digital Channels
At the advent of the internet, the financial world was shaken to its core. Financial consumers are now able to test different financial institutions within a matter of minutes. Their financial needs are not relegated to “the only bank in town”. With a few simple searches, consumers can find a financial institution that has the cheapest rates, best mobile app, easy-to-use online banking, etc. They are able to shop around for every one of their financial needs from the comfort of their couch. There is no longer a need to drive to a branch and feel trapped by limited offerings.
3) Reform Physical Channels
Although digital channels are emerging as essential capabilities of a financial institution, physical branches remain important. Consumers are attracted by experiences. The warm smiles of friendly member advisors, familiar faces from the community, refreshments, and knowledgeable employees are some of the many benefits members receive from visiting their local branch. A place to develop community and relationships is what credit unions are all about. Even with an influx of digital channels, branches will remain a vital hub for credit union outreach. However, the transactions that are occurring at branches are shifting with the convenience online and mobile banking offer. Therefore, branch design will need to reform to accommodate a higher demand on digital experiences.
4) Initiate Personalized Marketing
Members have become accustomed to personalized marketing from retail brokers like Amazon. Amazon makes their users feel cared for because they store vast amounts of data on every visit to Amazon.com. Using this data, Amazon is able to suggest products that people love (and didn’t even know existed). The genius behind this marketing is data analytics from a data warehouse. Utilizing the large data repository Amazon has developed, it is able to give retailers precise information on Amazon users. In return, more retailers are willing to sell their products through Amazon which builds more data for the retailer broker. Credit unions should follow the same approach for their members. When members visit the credit union’s website, walk into a branch or open the mobile app, they want a personalized experience. They want to receive advice and offers that are relevant to their current stage in life. Suggesting products that members will love can only be done through an effective analytics program.
5) Launch Member-Centric Data Analytics
Analytics is a new buzzword for an old technique. Learning as much about a member as possible has always been a way credit unions developed deep relationships and offered wise counsel. Knowing members personally allowed member advisors (MA) to holistically help members through their financial lifecycle. Knowing that Jim’s son is graduating from the local high school and is in need of a student loan for college would be something an MA would intuitively know about a member. However, with the influx of new memberships and a widening array of products available, this is no longer a sustainable practice. The sheer amount of product mixes available to members would overwhelm the best MA in the industry. Developing analytics around a member is the new method for deepening relationships with members.
6) Deliver Omni-channel Credit Union Experiences
Consumers are looking for experiences. Products throughout the financial services industry are very similar and highly regulated. Credit unions must distinguish themselves by exceptional experiences. Tailoring advice and products based on a member’s profile is a great way credit unions can begin their omni-channel strategy. Mastering the omni-channel experience is one of the greatest opportunities the credit union industry has to stay true to its roots and truly care for people (not profits). To improve members’ lives, credit unions must develop more intimate knowledge of each member according to their specific financial journey.