Meeting Members’ Needs through Convenience

Recent economic circumstances have left many credit union executives wondering what strategic move they should make next to meet their business objectives while maintaining member service levels. Things like the Durbin Amendment have sparked intense debate and put credit unions and banks in a precarious position, where they must figure out how to best make up for lost income without driving away members by asking them to fill the gap.

Many in the credit union industry agree that passing on the profit margin deficiency to members by increasing checking and debit fees or doing away with rewards programs is a surefire way to lose them to other financial institutions. However, banks are commonly disregarding this theory and are feeling the heat as a result.

Credit unions have been presented a golden opportunity to further differentiate themselves from larger financial institutions and experience new growth. Not only can they deepen relationships with existing members, they can also create new ones with potential members looking for relief from profit-comes-first-banks. The first step is to ensure credit unions clearly understand the attributes that drive people to a particular financial institution.

Recent interviews conducted on the street, targeting members and non-members, demonstrate misnomers regarding how consumers chose their financial institution. People were interviewed outside of their banks and credit unions to explain the features that incline them to choose one financial institution over another. And, even as delivery channels have changed, the resounding answer was convenience. This convenience-factor was sought through location, online banking, multiple ATMs, technology and longer hours. But the common thread was that everyone wants access to their account when and how they want.

Shared branching is a prime example of how credit unions are more accessible than consumers think by offering locations to meet current and potential members’ number one need. By giving members access to the facilities of other participating credit unions to conduct transactions the same as in their home branch, the credit union’s footprint grows to become the fourth largest branching network in the country with more than 5,000 locations.

In subsequent interviews, credit union members, both users and non-users of shared branching, discussed their affinity for the service. It was determined that the members who use shared branching rely heavily on the service and love it. It was also uncovered that those members not using the service simply didn’t know it existed, but were inclined to use it after they learned it was offered by their credit union.

Although branches continue to be the number one indicator of convenience to members, there are numerous other options for access credit unions must be prepared to offer, including remote deposit mobile access, self-services and online banking, just to name a few. Credit unions will need to be even more diligent about discovering efficient and effective ways to match larger institutions in their delivery channel options. By leveraging existing technologies, such as shared branching, credit unions are able to offer a variety of touch points that ensure members never need to seek out larger financial institutions based on convenience.

 

Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, providing the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. To learn more about how the Association’s partnership with Co-Op Financial Services can benefit your credit union, contact Sales and Marketing Associate Craig Reed: 206.340.4789, creed@nwcua.org.

Posted in Around the NW, Events, Marketing & Communications.