Credit unions have a credit union problem

When was the last time you walked through the steps of opening an account at your credit union? What about the last time you tried to apply for a loan on your phone?

We often get so close to our own work that we forget to step back and put ourselves in the shoes of someone who doesn’t live and breathe credit unions every day.

It’s no surprise, then, that in mystery shopping hundreds of credit unions across the country, our team at On The Mark Strategies found that most credit unions are making the same three mistakes no matter their asset size or location. Here they are, plus how to fix them.

  1. It’s not easy to join a credit union.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, sure it is. You just need to live, work or worship in ______ County.” But that’s eligibility.

Actually signing on the dotted line, officially establishing that membership is challenging. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Consider these three things:

  • Do you offer a fully hybrid process, including a way to electronically fund an initial membership deposit?
  • If so, what is your staff saying? Credit union staff often tell our shoppers that parties need to be present, in-person to open an account and add a joint owner.
  • Do you offer multiple methods to prove residency? Can consumers submit those options electronically if not on a driver’s license?

It’s time to ease your grip on the pen and paper. Find out where you stand (and where you need to be) in a digital age.

  1. CU online and mobile platforms aren’t up to par.

Credit union leaders need to look beyond what’s always been for better solutions.

Many companies offer something different than the licensed apps developed by core providers that trap so many credit unions. Alkami writes its own API’s around your core system, giving you customizable mobile banking options. That control gives you the power to deliver an experience your members want and deserve.

This is the digital age. Credit unions sorely need to step up their online and mobile experiences. Look at it this way: if you aren’t relevant, your business model doesn’t really matter. You’re going to become irrelevant before you become insolvent.

  1. CU’s overstate features and ignore benefits.

Features tell. Benefits sell.

Credit unions like to include ‘family’ in their messaging. But in our mystery shops of top credit union competitors, it’s the community banks who commonly ask the financial get to know you questions. Just like a family member should.

Equipped with that information, they recommend products and services suitable to a person’s lifestyle. For example, one exceptional financial organization asked our shopper if she pays off her credit card balance each month, or carries it over. When she said she carries it, the representative recommended the low APR card instead of the cashback card.

The feature was low APR. The benefit was cost savings as it applies personally.

It’s a hard truth to accept, but credit unions miss the boat on this over and over. Staff read from a list of features without ever offering benefits. Better sales and service training is a must.

The credit union mission is powerful. Its movement is impactful. Its meaning is personal. That’s your leverage. How will you maximize it?

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: Details