Crafting a Successful Online Sales & Service Culture: Top Five Considerations

Many credit unions have committed significant resources in recent years to developing strong sales and service cultures.  These efforts are critical to membership growth, loan growth and ultimately developing loyal and engaged members.  As consumers begin to demand more and more from online channels, credit unions must consider a similar commitment to developing a powerful online sales and service strategy.  Below are five important considerations for such an online sales & service endeavor:

(1)    Strategize.  Increasingly, your online strategy is just as important as your branch strategy.  For some members it is the only branch they will ever want to visit.  As your credit union develops its strategic plan, the online channel must be well represented.  The senior leadership team should create a vision for what a successful online strategy will ultimately look like including what milestones will be important as it grows and how success will be measured.  Your online channel strategy should be grounded in the consumer demands of the members you are currently serving and more importantly, the types of members you desire to attract and serve into the future.  Finally, considerations should be made for how the credit union’s brand will be developed and communicated online.

(2)    Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.  Less is more.  Keep copy light.  Reduce the number of clicks it takes to find critical tools and resources.  The heavily desired real estate of your home page should be reflective of your strategic focus areas and match your members’ needs.  For example, if lending is the most important part of your strategic plan, a member should easily be able to start applying for a loan directly from the home page.  Similarly, if your member feedback indicates that the most desired usage of your site is online banking, the login should be very visible and easily accessed from the home page.

(3)    Engage.  Social media must be a part of your online sales and service culture.  Many consumers today will refuse to do business with an organization that has no social presence.  “Digital branding and social strategies are becoming the necessary norm for all business including credit unions.”  (Credit Union Digital Branding, Rogers 2011, Filene).  Social should be strategic and engaging.  In addition, aligning social efforts from across all functional areas of the organization is crucial.  For example, if your human resources team is engaging for recruiting and your call center is engaging for member service and your marketing department is engaging to build your brand and your business development team is engaging to drive sales, how do the four areas interconnect?

(4)    Automate.  Prevent manual intervention.  Consumers will expect an online experience to remain online.  For example, when a member starts to apply for membership online they expect to complete the transaction online without coming into the branch.  Find ways to automate processes so that fulfillment does not require manual intervention either on the phone or in-person.  Take the time to follow each online process through to completion with that directive in mind and assess what changes might need to be made to current online processes.

(5)    Assign Metrics & Ownership.  What gets measured gets done.  Determine who is responsible for growing and developing the credit union’s online channel.  Assess what metrics are critical to understanding the growth and development of the channel and begin to measure these monthly.  Communicate early and often.  Be sure the entire organization understands how the channel is growing and what it will take to make it successful.  Interconnect metrics for your offline strategies with your online strategies so that they work together.

The time is now to develop your credit union’s online sales & service culture.  The steps outlined above should help your organization begin to develop a strategy for success in this critical area so that your credit union will meet the growing demands of today’s online consumer.

Tansley Stearns

Tansley Stearns

Tansley Stearns is the president & ceo at Community Financial Credit Union. “No” is not a word in Tansley’s vocabulary. If there is an opportunity to bolster Community Financial Credit ... Web: Details