I hear more and more talk about credit union relevance – specifically whether it can be maintained. Credit unions have long been the underdogs in a marketplace dominated by big banks. Now the Walmarts and Amazons and Facebooks of the world are poised to take their own cuts of the financial services action. Can credit unions maintain any semblance of relevance in this topsy-turvy marketplace?
I believe the answer is yes, through the effective use of technology. Thus, I offer my three tech tips for maintaining – and even increasing – credit union relevance.
Stop playing “technology me too”
Many credit unions let big banks take the lead, then dutifully follow along. They look at what big banks are doing and then from that they develop a checklist of must-have technologies. Credit unions can no longer obsess over what the bank next door is doing. They need to think about technology in new and exciting ways. If you need an example of how to properly manage technology, look to the companies that are doing it exceedingly well – companies like Apple and Amazon. Chart your own technology course and stop trying to be Mini Me to the Dr. Evil Bank down the street.
Explore new channels
Here’s just one example. Have you ever looked into getting your credit on LendingTree? If you have, I’m sure it wasn’t for long. You quickly realized that the amount of effort probably wasn’t worth the return. Does that mean credit unions shouldn’t be on LendingTree? Not necessarily.
A new client of ours, a CUSO called CU Lending Cooperative (www.yourculc.com), has created a powerful, fast lending platform that essentially puts participating credit unions on LendingTree. (Note: LendingTree is CULC’s first venue, but definitely not its last.) The loan offer is initially presented as CULC. Then if a borrower accepts the offer, the CULC software instantly identifies which credit union the borrower is eligible for. CULC books the loan, funds the loan, and deposits the funds into a new share account at the credit union regardless of your core platform. That’s powerful stuff.
Focus on member experience
Unless you just logged onto the internet for the first time yesterday, you’ve seen your user experience evolve over the years. That’s because the Googles, Apples, Facebooks and Amazons of the world are intent on constantly improving the user experience of their customers. It’s not a one and done proposition; it’s a never-ending quest. These giants have created an expectation in consumers that their user experience today will be just a little better than it was yesterday.
Now think about the member experience at your credit union. Has it changed much over the past few years? More to the point, have you made any specific efforts to change it over the past few years? If your member experience isn’t intentionally evolving, your credit union is falling behind – behind the big banks and especially behind your new non-bank competitors.
Technology has long been known as the great equalizer. Deploy the same technology as the big banks and you can compete with the big banks, right? Except today, there’s more to technology than just a checklist. It’s no longer about what pieces you own; it’s about the unique experiences you build around those pieces.