As 2018 draws to a close, credit union leaders are looking ahead and charting a path for their organizations through a rapidly changing industry. If you are among them, you may be asking yourself questions like:
- In a crowded financial marketplace, are we doing enough to distinguish ourselves, right from the first point of contact?
- Are we remaining visible and relevant through the channels members are currently using? Do we understand their digital lives and the needs they express online?
- How do we stay ahead of the curve on new innovations, while still minding our costs?
To adjust to the ongoing changes in the financial services industry, and to prepare for a year of increased growth and improved loyalty, you need to align your people, processes, and technology with a singular focus on your members and their needs. Here are 3 ways to get started:
- Make a Great First Impression on New Members
Make 2019 the year you maximize the value and loyalty of new members with a multi-channel, multi-touch onboarding program. Here’s how to make a lasting first impression, by:
- Keeping your outreach personal. A new member needs the right information for their personal circumstances, not ads for all your top products. The first 90 days of a new member relationship are the most effective time to cross-sell and upsell, but that’s not an excuse for un-targeted offers. Instead, resolve to keep your offers targeted, analysis-driven, and limited.
- Communicating frequently enough to stay top of mind. In an effort to not deluge the new member in too much information, some credit unions limit onboarding communications too heavily. The truth is, studies have shown that consumers want more contact from their financial institutions, not less. The catch, of course, is that those communications need to be advisory in nature and offer genuine value. And don’t forget to provide lots of enticement for members to make use of the account past their initial deposit. Inactive accounts can be a real drain on your bottom line.
- Taking a cross-channel approach and remembering the value of visuals. From email to text messaging to in-app communications, there are many ways to reach out to your new member and make them feel welcome. Don’t limit yourself to text-heavy communications, either – video messages and infographics can be appealing, easy-to-digest components of your onboarding mix.
- Use Data to Make Life Easier for Members and Employees Alike
Hidden within your goldmine of transactional, operational, and member data are the insights you need to make interacting with your credit union pleasant and efficient for everyone involved. Tap into this potential by:
- Detecting member life events faster and responding appropriately. During major life events, your credit union has a critical role to play as a trusted financial advisor, so use your business analytics tool to identify the data patterns that reveal these shifts, then make the link between these events and your products, and get the right offer in front of them quickly. For example, a member who has been paying a biweekly amount to an auto financing firm for 57 months may be very interested in an incentive to finance a new car in the new year.
- Making your credit union a better place to work. When you are considering how to improve member engagement in the upcoming year, don’t forget to look at ways to make your staff happier and more productive. Analyze your operational data to determine optimal staffing levels, identify and reward top sales performers, and pinpoint and resolve procedural roadblocks. Your reward will be motivated staff members with more time to do the most important part of their job – engaging with members.
- Prepare for the AI Revolution
Artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and machine learning, once the mainstays of science fiction, are becoming reality at the big banks. Your credit union can start along the road to AI success with a focus on diverse, high-quality, actionable data. Start today and take practical steps towards advanced data analytics by:
- Using quieter periods in the year to perform data cleansing tasks. Healthy, accurate databases really are the key to marketing initiatives that delight your members and return good ROI. In 2019, take the time to review your data management strategy and make sure it contains concrete policies and timelines for data hygiene tasks, and includes regular monitoring for high data standards.
- Exploring big data, social data, and unstructured data. Augmenting your data to get a fuller picture of members and their circumstances will be important to your credit union’s success as financial technology evolves. Consider the use of external data from aggregators to enhance your understanding of your members. Perhaps your marketing team would enjoy creating a small pilot program using third-party data to enhance their understanding of a high-value member segment?
- Considering fintech partnerships. Credit unions don’t have to reinvent the wheel to prepare for AI and machine learning. Working with an experienced vendor to centralize data access and implement enterprise-wide business analytics will help you lay the groundwork for emerging technologies in a way that offers immediate bang for the buck while respecting your current resources.
Smart Tech + “Service First” Mentality = True Engagement
To prepare for success in 2019, resolve to move beyond old-school metrics like the number of new accounts opened. Shift your focus to the broader member experience, monitor data around this focus (retention rates, satisfaction scores, and so forth), and adjust accordingly. A better bottom line will naturally follow because fully engaged members are more profitable, more loyal, and more likely to reach out to you for additional products and services.
Then, take a similar approach to the adoption of emerging technologies. Ask yourself “How will this improve our member relationships, first and foremost?” In this age of increasing consumer expectations, your credit union will thrive if you can identify the right mix of new technology, increased insight, and old-fashioned service to genuinely put members first.