By Robert McGarvey
It’s a digital world today in financial services. That puts pressure on every credit union to polish its digital game. John Reske, vice president at UMass Five College Federal Credit Union in Massachusetts, underscored the point: “Members expect you to provide digital platforms and channels so they can conduct their banking when and how they choose.”
Kirk Drake, CEO of Maryland CUSO Ongoing Operations, and a digital maven, stressed that Millennials—roughly those born between 1981 and 2000—demand digital contact points. Without good digital, suggested Drake, a credit union can kiss the idea of Millennial members goodbye.
What does a credit union need to stay in the digital game? This may all seem more daunting than it in fact is. Experts point to just five must knows.
Have a mobile banking channel. By some estimates as many as half of all credit unions lack a mobile banking channel. That won’t lead to prosperity going forward. There are now low-cost, off-the-shelf mobile banking platforms that make it easy for just about any credit union to go live.
How slick does mobile banking need to be? That depends on your budget and membership. At the very least offer bill pay, balance checking, and an easy way to shift money among accounts. A person-to-person payment tool is a plus. So is the ability to monitor accounts the member has at other institutions. Biometric sign-on (often via Apple Touch ID) is a real plus.
Know that some visionary credit unions are talking about shifting priorities away from online banking and into mobile, as that is the direction of traffic growth. Some say they just aren’t updating online as frequently as mobile.
That’s your call. Just know that mobile has become a crucial relationship builder.
Create a vibrant website. There’s a temptation to think websites are yesterday’s news but the reality is that this has become a credit union’s primary marketing face. Make it a pretty one, and also make sure it is as easy as possible to open a new account online. View a website as your 21st century billboard. It’s the crucial marketing tool today.
Claim—and populate—your Facebook and Google Places pages. This is advice from Terence Channon of NewLead, a digital consulting firm based in Florida. He added: “if you are not monitoring these platforms, then customers are not happy and could be turning up at an old address or sending in messages expecting a reply.”
Note: Probably, there are plenty of channels you can safely ignore. Twitter for instance, is ignored by many credit unions. But here’s the rub: even if your Twitter account is inactive, a member may expect a response to a Tweet directed there. To the extent possible, take down inactive accounts so as not to confuse members. And really monitor active accounts because the people who use them expect responses within minutes.
Digital self-service. Said Reske, “digital platforms also allows more member self-service, which improves overall credit union efficiencies and lowers expenses.” What kinds of self-service? Many institutions are letting members turn debit cards off, and back on, when they fear they may have lost them. Others are allowing members to note foreign travels to help with credit card acceptance. Many others have built out slick new product opening tools, such as car loan apps. Many consumers want DIY financial services and digital is the low cost ticket.
Stay alert to the changing landscape. A few years ago credit unions were tripping over themselves in a rush to offer personal financial management tools, usually within the online banking channel. Now some tell me they have taken them down due to lack of use. That is the way of the digital world. In an analog, bricks and mortar universe, change seemed to evolve slowly. That isn’t so in the digital world. A few years ago many credit unions insisted they needed a Windows-based mobile banking app. Now just about none do.
Many now are talking about mothballing their special iPad tablet apps, due to lack of use.
Just watch the way the wind is blowing, and move as it does.
And never forget: digital isn’t an end result; it’s a path to results. Use the tools to achieve better member service and satisfaction, and that’s what this is all about.