Consumers are turning to credit unions for a variety of reasons: competitive prices on products, commitment to local communities, and personalized service. Learning how to build on these strengths will help you attract and retain loyal members.
By paying attention to member engagement, technology, and personalization, you can improve the credit union member experience.
Effective ways for credit unions to improve member experience
Attracting and retaining credit union members requires learning who your potential members are and what they want. Once you have this information, you can then provide tools and software to your employees so they can exceed your members’ expectations.
Positioning staff to wow members
Personal, one-on-one interactions are critical for impressing your members. For example, increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) requires adding a human touch to every customer channel, whether it’s online or in a physical branch.
To help personalize your interactions with members, try the following strategies:
- Create an open culture and listen to members
- Take surveys and accept member feedback
- Incorporate member feedback in staff meetings
- Have an open-door policy and accept constructive criticism
You’ll also want to match your staff experts to member needs. A teller isn’t always the best staff member to handle an inquiry. So, for example, if members have questions about buying a home, you’ll want to pair them with a mortgage expert. Once you’ve done that, you can take advantage of scheduling software to manage booking appointments between members and staff.
Targeted communication, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, is also a key to building loyalty. Regular email newsletters from experts on your staff can help guide your members through uncertain times. Whether from the CEO or a small business loan specialist, such newsletters can help inspire confidence in your services and expertise.
Building relationships with a range of members
Across a wide variety of consumer types, banking customers and credit union members have a core set of interests. A 2019 global financial services consumer study from Accenture found that most consumers wanted the following:
- Integrated products for core needs: Consumers liked one-stop shopping for checking accounts, mortgages, auto loans, and insurance.
- Personalized offerings: One in two consumers wanted customized services, such as financial advice based on their spending habits.
- Shared data in return for better deals: If they trusted the security of their banking institution, consumers would provide information for discounts or faster service.
- Integration of physical and online channels: Consumers wanted truly omnichannel experiences incorporating branches and digital channels.
In addition, the report found that consumers generally fell into one of four categories: pioneers, pragmatists, skeptics, and traditionalists.
“Pioneers” are generally younger. They are more open to new technological advances and more risk tolerant. “Pragmatists” span all age groups. They are comfortable switching between various channels, careful about sharing data, and open to advice. “Skeptics” are wary of technology, averse to risk, and generally unsatisfied with their banking experience. And “traditionalists” are generally fifty-five years or older, less interested in technology, and value personal interaction with staff.
With this in mind, try surveying your members and paying close attention to each demographic. By doing so, you’ll better understand how to tailor your products and member services to meet all of your members’ needs and increase member satisfaction.
How you meet the needs of your diverse array of members requires flexibility and an awareness of consumer segmentation. Our detailed report on consumer preferences finds that one-on-one visits are crucial. For instance, 67 percent of consumers will invest more in services after a personal meeting. Ensure you’re efficiently managing these meetings with a range of products and services designed for the COVID-19 era and beyond.
Improving credit union member experience through employee engagement
A desire for one-on-one interactions is one of the core reasons consumers turn to credit unions. So in order to stay competitive, credit unions need to hire, train, and maintain skilled, knowledgeable, and happy staff. Enhancing employee experience services is a first step toward true engagement with your members.
Ways to enhance your employee experience
Generally, employees want a good salary and benefits, a comfortable and welcoming workplace, flexibility in work schedules, and potential for career advancement.
The benefits of a good employee experience are clear. They include lower rates of staff turnover, more productive employees, higher revenue, better employee engagement, and better customer service. A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey found that profitability was 25 percent higher in companies with high levels of employee experience.
Thus, it’s important to take a proactive approach to the employee journey: recruit talent, train and grow your staff, allow for advancement, obtain feedback during performance reviews, and utilize your human resources department to engage and retain high-quality staff.
Credit unions are unique because they’re engaged in local communities. Because of this, involving your employees in community efforts can help them feel more connected to the place where they work. Consider participating in volunteer efforts at a local food bank, collecting donations for local nonprofits, or working for racial justice in your community.
Differences between employee engagement and employee experience
Better employee experience has proven to increase employee engagement. And this is the next step in creating more loyal, happy members. While employee experience is focused on what makes employees happy, employee engagement is focused on what makes your members happy.
Highly engaged employees are 2.25 times more productive than merely satisfied employees. So it’s crucial to your growth strategy and improving credit union member experience to promote and expand both employee and member engagement.
Here are several ways to enhance employee engagement:
- Be strategic: Make your mission clear and create ways for employees to buy in.
- Measure engagement: Take surveys of your members and employees and measure your progress.
- Create an authentic culture: Commit to an ongoing process of building member loyalty.
Employee engagement involves creating a culture where employees are on board with your credit union’s mission, products, and services. Once your employees are on board, you can promote these aspects of your credit union to your members with enthusiasm and passion. Credit unions that excel in employee engagement (such as Navy Federal Credit Union) know that employees who are passionate about their work create happier, more loyal members.
Technology to improve credit union member experience
Technology can help improve credit union member experience in a number of important ways. For example, it can help with offering more omnichannel options for members and providing tools for you to better collect and track member data.
The value of technology for member experience
Innovative, technology-based products and services are especially important to “pioneer” members—who are generally younger. These members are more likely to want and adopt innovations such as mobile phone banking, digital wallets, social media, text alerts, and member loyalty rewards.
The 2020 Credit Union Innovation Index found that nearly 22 percent of credit union members would consider dropping their financial institution for lack of innovation. In addition, more than 35 percent of the survey respondents indicated an interest in person-to-person payment services.
Keep in mind, of course, that these services don’t appeal to everyone. You don’t want to neglect in-branch services in favor of online banking and lose your more “traditionalist” members.
Using technology to sustain member relationships
Using technology like appointment-setting software to enhance one-on-one connections can help bridge the gap between traditionalist members and your branches. A dynamic queuing system can ensure that members don’t have long wait times and can find answers to questions quickly and efficiently.
Technology can also help credit unions better track member preferences and personal data. As long as your security is strong, most credit union members are willing to share personal data in return for better, more relevant services and products.
Credit unions have access to mountains of member data. And yet, the 2020 Credit Union Innovation Index finds that only 11 percent of credit unions have innovated their data analytics over the past three years.
CRM is an essential piece of the data analytics puzzle. By tracking essential member financial data and even personal information such as birthdays, family members, and important life events, credit unions can build on the personalized, one-on-one experience members expect.
Creating a truly omnichannel experience across platforms is another way to incorporate technology that has appeal for all of your members, whether they’re pragmatists, skeptics, traditionalists, or pioneers. Scheduling appointments and creating in-branch events such as financial planning classes can help add new benefits to the member experience and build loyalty. These innovations can also promote personalization of member products and services—another key piece in the member experience puzzle.
Member personalization strategies for credit unions
Credit unions have a distinct advantage over fintechs and large financial institutions: they know and interact closely with their members. Still, many credit unions are losing opportunities to take advantage of the information they have about their members in order to provide personalized service.
The importance of member personalization
A survey by Total Expert found that 65 percent of respondents do not use their institution’s data as often as they should to educate and cross-sell to members. In addition, 19 percent say they don’t use data-driven insights at all. This suggests that credit unions have a lot of room to grow in terms of personalizing their members’ experience.
Credit unions should prioritize improving personalization because the benefits of doing so are clear. These benefits include reduced member churn and increased member loyalty.
Ultimately, members want personalization. Accenture’s 2019 global financial services consumer study found that one in two consumers have a strong interest in financial advice that is shaped by their personal experiences.
Creating a member personalization strategy
You’ll want to create a member personalization strategy that looks at KPIs, identifies your strengths and weaknesses, and surveys your members about what they want most (and don’t want). This personalization strategy also needs to be realistic in its goals. Getting employees to buy into personalization by tracking and using personal information in all interactions with members is also essential.
For each individual member, creating a personalized customer journey map can be a helpful tool for building loyalty. Find out exactly what your members want, either in online forms or one-on-one interactions with your team. Ask questions, find out about personal goals, and engage members with interactive activities and financial planning seminars. Then, create a unified member experience by tracking the responses to these questions and making them available to all your employees across departments.
Personalization helps members feel unique and special. It allows them to feel like they’re more in control of their financial choices and helps prevent information overload.
Our research finds that collecting customer data and making it available to all staff is essential for businesses that want to better engage customers and give them more control over their choices. Personalized interactions with staff will give your members more incentive to purchase additional products, whether it’s checking accounts, mortgages, auto loans, or insurance.
Putting it all together
You can improve credit union member experience best by creating a data-driven strategy that leverages employee engagement, adopts technology innovations for members and staff, and increases personalization of products and services. By building on member knowledge and one-on-one interaction, credit unions can build a better omnichannel experience that increases member loyalty.
For more on how JRNI can guide your credit union, check out JRNI’s full suite of tools for credit unions, which can help you accelerate digital transformation, control branch traffic, and better understand your data.
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About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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