Data in action: 5 ways credit unions can close the expectations gap

Publisher’s Note: CUInsight is hosting a free webinar Wednesday, June 3 titled, Do Your Data Tools Support Your Members? The Time is Now. We hope you’ll join us! Register here.

For years, credit unions have prioritized how to use their data to create more meaningful relationships with their members. By paying attention to the story the data tells, they’re ready to respond to members’ needs — sometimes before the member even recognizes those needs —creating mutually profitable, lasting relationships that people value.

That is no different in the world we find ourselves living in now, even if we find ourselves looking at members’ needs through a bit of a different lens.

Here are five action steps to build a better member experience and bridge the expectations gap:

Build (Even More) Trust

While members trust that their credit union will keep their money safe, they may not always believe that their credit union truly understands who they are: their challenges, their goals, and unexpected changes that leave them unsure of the best next step.  By looking at your member data and acting quickly on key indicators of potential need, you can build even stronger trust and long-lasting relationships


Anticipating member needs sends a message loud and clear – you know them, understand their needs and are there to help. Does the data tell you they are going to need a mortgage, or they are overlooking an opportunity that might be very handy at this particular time in their lives?  Maybe they are sending kids to college and some re-fi information would be useful. Or they find themselves unexpectedly unemployed and are having challenges paying their monthly bills for the first time. Their need for solutions is as unique as their lives.

In the same way that online merchants can follow patterns to know when you’ll want more pet food, prescription refills or other timely, but less obvious needs, you have the data to follow member life patterns, recognize needs in advance and proactively step forward to offer a solution. Advice, not a sales pitch.  Anticipating their needs with thoughtful guidance to genuinely help solve problems can change the whole dynamic of the relationship, allowing you to be a friend, not just a service or vendor.


In today’s competitive environment, if you are not growing your member relationships, you are at risk of losing them. And in the current environment where many consumers are not ready to make changes to existing relationships, there is a great opportunity to grow these relationships by acting on the data you already have.

For example, rather than simply promoting the benefits of online and mobile banking on your website, target members who have never used digital banking tools with a communication that incents them to try bill pay for the first time. Promote the benefits of contactless cards and digital wallets to reinforce additional options for shopping safely while social distancing. Or reach out to members who have inactive cards with a push to activate their cards and begin using them for point-of-sale purchases.


While everyone is looking to figure out the right solution for their institutions, we are learning together that even though there is no one-size-fits-all solution – we all need to pivot from what we had planned at the start of 2020. Many credit unions who have moved quickly are proving that there are ways to stay in front of your members without appearing tone-deaf to what the world is experiencing – and help your community at the same time.

While we may have had to shift from the goals and plans we had in place earlier in the year, credit unions have always been known to be strong supporters of their communities and their members no matter what the situation. Tracking changes in trends and behaviors and supporting struggling members through the impacts of the pandemic will build even stronger trust and relationships in your market. To provide an even more personalized support system for your members, further analyze the data about those impacted to offer alternative products or solutions that can offer relief in their unique situations, while allowing you to continue to communicate with them. Even if it is in a different way than you had planned.


Understanding the data and extracting insights is essential, but nothing happens without action – which is a more common issue than you might think. The real key to meeting member expectations is to act on the data, every day, interpreting it at the speed and scale of today’s non-stop changing world.  By being immersed in the flow of data, you can take advantage of existing tools to grow relationships with your existing members – rather than just focusing on adding new accounts.

The opportunities to become more relevant in your members’ lives – and fill the expectations gap – are more available than ever before. And while shifting to a more data-centric approach is a big change that needs the whole organization’s buy-in, the new and unprecedented challenges we are all facing shows that there has never been a more important time for us to use our data to better understand and support our members.

Don’t forget to join CUInsight for our free webinar titled Do Your Data Tools Support Your Members? The Time is Now, on Wednesday, June 3. Register yourself and a colleague here.

Laura Costello

Laura Costello

Laura Costello is the Director of Marketing at Saylent, a fintech that interprets data so financial institutions can better understand their members and discover opportunities for growth. She joined in ... Details