How does reduced branch traffic affect credit union business services?

Let’s face it – member traffic in and out of our physical, brick-and-mortar branch facilities isn’t what it used to be. Far from the heyday of most members conducting business regularly in one or more credit union branch offices, we now live in a digital express age in which members spend a great deal more time in drive-thrus and on smartphones and tablets they ever will in your physical locations.

This is problematic for credit unions in that for many of them, branch traffic was a primary source of information and leads for cross-selling additional business services. When members were frequently came into branch facilities, they were more likely to engage with credit union staff about their business lives, challenges and needs. Credit union professionals could then use that information to correlate member needs with credit union products and services, thus tailoring situation-specific solutions for members.

This means credit union professionals must find new ways of securing leads for promoting business lending and business services. While there are many ways to think outside the box and do this without the benefit of additional branch traffic, below are three ways credit union professionals can consider.

  • Detective work. Even though members may not be in our branches with a physical presence like they used to, they still leave a digital footprint. Those tasked with promoting lending and business services can review things like scanned copies of checks and other documents. In doing so, they could discover if a member was depositing checks from another credit union or making loan payments to another credit union (or other competitor). Armed with this information, they could then try to engage the member and bring that lost business in-house.
  • Vehicle inspections. Credit union professionals could regularly scan their parking lots and drive -thru lines for vehicles wrapped professionally. Using business names, telephone numbers and website addresses from these vehicles, they could then reach out to business owners (whether they are credit union members or not) and attempt to gain those business accounts.
  • Building relationships. At the end of the day, it’s still all about building relationships. This is a forte credit unions have worked well with for decades. Building relationships isn’t rocket science – it still includes relatively simple concepts like asking open-ended questions, being more proactive and assertive in promoting credit union products and services and simply not being scared to ask members for their business. Credit union professionals must come to regard themselves not so much as salespeople but as solutions providers for the members that come to them for help.

It’s true — a rapidly growing percentage of members prefer to interact with their credit unions digitally, through computers, smart phones and tablets. While this comes at a price to traditional in-branch traffic, it also offers its own set of solutions to help deal with the change in the challenge. Credit union professionals that see this usage shift as an opportunity for growth instead of a harbinger of doom are more likely to realize success in this digital age.

Lisa Dent

Lisa Dent

Ms. Dent joined MBL in July 2012 as a Risk Assessment Manager. She has worked in various roles at MBL which include Implementation Specialist and Training and Development Administrator. Prior ... Web: Details