Recently, we wrote about the reality of budget season: how budget season always begins with ideas for big programs and changes for the year ahead, but ends with a tightly sealed budget, a small list of usually regulatory-driven “must do projects”, and only memories of the grander projects proposed at the outset of the year. And how credit unions can break through that annual archetype by identifying at least one signature project that they will commit to for the year ahead and renewing that commitment at the beginning, middle, and end of the planning cycle.
Finally, we suggested 3 specific ideas for potential signature projects:
- Build a New Product
- Implement or Enhance a Channel
- Go Deep on a Marketing Campaign.
We looked closely at the first of these ideas – building a new product – and wrote about how to build a new product based on your members’ wants and needs.
Today, we’re going to dive into the second of these ideas, to help you make it the one thing your credit union does in 2016.
Implement or Enhance a Channel
It’s safe to say that, in the last decade, credit unions have been forced to make significant investments in digital channels. Some credit unions have led the charge, some have been quick to jump onboard once a new channel gained traction, and some have been pulled along kicking and screaming. Regardless of which category your credit union falls into, there are some digital channels that are an absolute necessity if you plan to attract new members, curb attrition, and have any intention of remaining a relevant institution.
Simply put, if you do not have a viable Online Banking platform, Mobile Banking, and integrated Bill Pay, please stop reading this article and call an emergency meeting with your senior leaders and BOD. You’re officially in triage.
For everyone else, 2016 presents an opportunity to contemplate a new channel of service for your members, and the last couple of years have given us some exciting new technologies. Full service Kiosks and Person-to-Person (P2P) payments are hot channels to consider.
P2P, in particular, has seen a huge explosion in our industry, especially among the younger demographics that have an inherent trust in technology. They have gladly ditched checkbooks for the more convenient digital wallets and are quite comfortable with this method of sharing money with friends, family, and small businesses. In fact, Apple recently made it known that it is working with U.S. banks to develop its own network to execute P2P transactions with the iPhone. Clearly there is a demand. And you thought Apple Pay was a game changer.
That said, you may find that the best course of action is revisiting and enhancing an existing channel. In our digital world, it does not take long for a platform to become obsolete, cumbersome, or even a bit embarrassing if it’s not keeping pace with contemporary trends.
When was the last time you updated your Online Banking and IVR platforms? What about a Mobile Banking update? Are you reluctant because you just implemented mobile 36 months ago? Don’t be. More intuitive solutions are made available every day and, like it or not, it is a key element for providing high quality member service.
There is a lot of research available about what channels consumers prefer, and the results are often broad and varied. Therefore we advise you look at your own data and understand your members’ preferences in channel usage and transaction activities. Consider these insights when deliberating what makes sense regarding your estimated costs and potential revenue.
Last, but certainly not least, incent your members to adopt your new channel and/or increase their engagement with a current one. Our industry is waking up to the incredible power of loyalty programs that compliment your strategic initiatives.
Consider evaluating a platform that allows your credit union the flexibility to create and update loyalty programs with ease, speed, and based on your goals. Don’t get locked into some cookie-cutter program that may limit your flexibility or do nothing to promote your new channel.
That’s it. Two down and one to go! Watch for our upcoming article on Doing One Thing: Idea #3 – Go Deep on a Marketing Campaign.