2014 Trends and predictions

As we move into 2014, there is one thing any one of us can predict for certain: Things will not slow down. We live in the age of speed.  The way we do business today has radically changed from even just a few years ago—and continues to change at a rapid pace. This change includes how your members want to receive information from you.

With the push for using different channels to get the attention of a wide demographic, it is often hard to know what members really want when it comes to communications from your credit union. However, there are a few things we can safely predict will occur in 2014:  Paper is not going away any time soon. While the world may be printing less, the idea of a paperless society is definitely a myth. In a recent study from InfoTrends, a document technology strategy and consulting firm, 66 percent of those surveyed still preferred to receive their business communications via paper – and the survey included 18 – 64 year old participants. What was the reasoning? Many like to use their paper statement as a reminder, or for more accurate record keeping.  There is often a worry that a financial firm may not keep all their transactions in an archive that can be retrieved easily. Security, too, is the reason many choose to receive their statements printed.

In another survey commissioned by advocate group, Two Sides, more than six in 10 consumers say they would not choose a provider that does not offer paper statements, and 88 percent want to be able to switch between electronic and paper statements without difficulty or cost.   Technology will continue to change our relationship with members. Just a decade ago, we were beginning to understand how the Internet and email could add to our business processes.  Now, the Internet and email—along with smartphones, tablets and a myriad of other techniques that keep us connected—are a part of our daily lives and set a completely new standard. “Nine-to-five” is not a place anymore. People can work anywhere, at anytime, which brings a whole new level of challenges.  For one, technology has changed (and will continue to change) our business processes. Information is exchanged at warp speed. Because of that, how you do business is now affected by your relationship with members. Just as we need to embrace other changes, we need to embrace speed and use it to make our members’ business lives simpler and more productive.

For credit unions, the path in 2014 is clear. Rising postal costs in a still recovering economy—and postal requirements that keep changing and growing in complexity—are certainly two solid reasons for you to encourage more members in 2014 to become fans of electronic documents, in spite of their love for paper. It provides a faster and more affordable way to share financial information. Providing e-statements and other electronic communication options, and encouraging your members to choose that route, offers the convenience of round the clock access to their accounts.  The benefits to promote are many. They can check transaction activity on the account, access a history of statements, apply for additional services or features, set up automatic transfers and transfer funds between accounts. With online bill pay, they have more flexibility as to when they make their loan or CD renewal payment because they’re no longer dependent on the speed of mail delivery. The demand for e-statements will grow in 2014 and can become a source of value and new revenue for your credit union. The growing demand members have to receive information the way they want it.

The paper versus electronic debate will most likely go on for several more years, which leads me to the most important trend that should receive attention. Members will continue to expect to receive information the way they want it and when they want it in an effort to save time and simplify their lives. Having the capabilities to respond to this is bound to become more and more a part of why someone will choose to stay or join your credit union—and a sure path to growing membership and revenue in 2014.

Harry Stephens

Harry Stephens

Harry is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest, privately held full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers ... Web: www.datamatx.com Details