The results are in! The NCUA has released its 2018 fourth-quarter call report, and the good news is nearly 5 million new members joined the CU movement last year (the exact figure reported was 4.9 million for all those who like to split hairs). This follows at least 10 years of steady membership growth, as indicated in the report, with 4.5 million new members joining in 2017.
So what does that all mean? Well, we believe that we should all be working our hardest to beat those numbers this year. And we say aim high – if membership grew by almost 5 million last year and 4.5 million the year before that, then let’s go for 6 million this year. Yes, it will require some work and yes, every credit union will need to amp up their efforts. But we’re talking about strengthening the entire credit union community, and the stronger we can make it, the better it will be for all of us – including the new members who join. So if you’re on board to hit the collective goal of 6 million new members, here’s what your credit union can do to make that number a reality.
Step Up Your Digital Game
Digital and mobile need to be a key cornerstone of your brand. Why? Because banks are outperforming credit unions on the digital front, and consumers will stick with them because of it. Today, people don’t just want to easily bank on their devices and to have access to everything they need in the palm of their hand, they expect it. If you can’t offer that to potential members, they will happily find another institution that can – and it will be probably be a bank.
This is not just a gut feeling. Late last year customer satisfaction results showed that banks had, for the first time ever, caught up to credit unions. This was largely attributed to the fact that the digital experience plays a much larger role in customer satisfaction levels and that banks, overall, do better. So if you’re going to commit to embracing 6 million new members this year, you must ensure your digital and mobile presence is exceptional.
Promote the Advantages of Credit Unions Overall
All credit unions have great offers on loans or accounts that can’t be beat. While it’s important to promote these to consumers in an effort to sway them, you must also promote the overall advantages of joining a credit union.
We’ve seen many credit unions make the mistake of assuming that everybody knows what a credit union is. But in actual fact many people don’t. Nor do they know how a credit union differs from a bank. Adding to this is the high numbers of people who, although familiar with credit unions, see them as small or inferior. So while an amazing short-term offer might capture the attention of a consumer, it’s often not enough to convince them to join – especially if they have no idea what you do or think you can’t be trusted!
Wherever you can in your communications, be sure to showcase the advantages of credit unions over banks and other financial institutions. Remind your audiences why credit unions are different and why they are better. While a great rate or offer is a compelling hook to get people interested, it’s the overarching benefits that convince them to join and stay loyal in the long-term.
Give The People What They Want
Compare consumer engagement trends from today to just 10 years ago and you will see how much has changed. Expectations of what an organization or financial institution should be have evolved incredibly. To ensure your credit union can keep up and continue membership growth, you need to be able to give consumers what they want.
When advertising your services, for example, don’t “sell” to your audiences, entertain them with content that encourages interaction. Consumers today don’t want to be hounded with sales messages, they want to have a two-way connection that feels authentic and focuses on them.
Similarly, people don’t just want a friendly place to bank with lower fees, they want to learn how they can achieve their goals and dreams. Help them to make this happen with educational tools and resources. Educate and empower them on top of providing great financial services.
Finally, be sure to frequently emphasize your community involvement. Today’s consumer prefers an organization that gives back. Any individual unhappy with their current institution’s lack of social responsibility will greatly value the credit union’s commitment to the community. Videos, regular social media updates, and campaigns centered around how you help the community will go a long way to persuading people to make the switch.