The past two years have seen a pandemic-fueled acceleration of digital transformation across many industries. In the financial services sector these shifts in technology adoption have been necessary in order for service providers to keep operating while also remaining in compliance with regulatory requirements. The result has been “forced” technology adoption at a rapid pace, to the point that many credit unions now find themselves needing to reevaluate their digital service channels and the technology infrastructures which support them to ensure best practices in light of current trends are in place.
Leveraging technology trends is key for credit union success in 2022 and beyond. As the fourth quarter of 2021 approaches, credit union leaders need to look at the technology trends they can leverage to improve their digital member experiences. If completing an end-to-end evaluation of the quality of your credit union’s digital services is not already on your radar as part of your strategic planning process for the coming year, here’s why it should be at the top of your agenda: member retention.
“Consumer behavior data compiled throughout the pandemic and from a vast cross-section of service sectors all points to one conclusion,” says Dania Buchanan, President of SmartVault Corporation. “There has been a distinct and rapid change in consumer adoption of digital services, with an actual preference for them. Consumers don’t just think of seamless digital experiences as convenient options. In many cases, they see it as their primary channel for customer service and purchase transactions.”
To continue providing the level of service that members expect, credit unions must also make changes in the technology infrastructure and channels they are using to deliver services. This ultimately means understanding your members’ purchasing and service journey related to your credit union offerings and then using this data to implement digital solutions to make it as effective and efficient as possible from both a member and an institutional perspective.
Assess your current digital infrastructure to increase member retention.
The first step in enhancing the digital member experience is to understand where the existing weaknesses and gaps are in your current service channels, then evaluate the technologies that can help you strengthen and close them, respectively. These actions should form the foundation of a strategic technology plan for your credit union created by leveraging these current trends:
Cloud-based service and data management infrastructure. While serving members virtually through cloud-based technologies isn’t a new concept, credit unions have tended to lag behind other financial service providers in their adoption of cloud-based platforms. As credit union members across all age demographics have become more adept and comfortable with utilizing technology to fulfill their financial needs (and actually prefer it over in-person branch visits according to recent data), ensuring that your institution has seamless services in place is paramount.
For example, implementing a compliant, secure document management system with e-signature capabilities is fundamental to collecting, sharing, and retaining members’ personal information along with account and loan documents throughout the onboarding and subsequent transaction processes. When your credit union evaluates this technology, it’s key to have a solution provider who has a proven track record serving credit unions and can provide a roadmap for implementation.
Mobile service applications. While providing mobile-based service applications for members used to be a complement to in-branch and in-person options, for many members, this has become the preferred service channel. This means that it is a critical need rather than a “nice to have” for your credit union. And you should perfect the transaction quality at the same time to avoid member dissatisfaction and potential attrition due to problems encountered during routine transactions or security breaches, both of which can be avoided through the adoption of vetted mobile platforms.
Completely digital transaction capabilities. The ability to provide a comprehensive digital member experience with paperless account management, loan closings, and other transactions is another trend that is here to stay. Even prior to the pandemic, all signs were supporting the evidence of a strong digital preference for financial services consumers. This is a trend that has continued rapidly upward since Covid emerged, as evidenced by the record number of mortgage closings and digital financial transactions that have been reported since 2019.
Credit unions need to invest in providing top-tier digital channels for their members in order to create a strong competitive advantage when comparisons are made between them and other potential service providers.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). If your team still views machine learning and AI as futuristic technologies, it’s time to reevaluate this stance because these tools are being integrated into many commonly used apps for spend management, receipt capture, and even online shopping. As a result, your members are well-acquainted with the added functionality and ease of use of these applications.
For example, many organizations (credit unions included) are now using self-service applications which incorporate artificial intelligence such as Chatbots, to provide customers with convenient, instant answers to standard questions and service issues.
Higher security standards for all member information and documents. As the number and complexity of digital transactions increase, so do the compliance requirements related to them. This is a key trend for any organization in the financial services space. It’s also an area of considerable expense and resource requirements for credit unions. Thus, ensuring that the technology solutions you are using do meet all NCUA and other requirements from the perspective of data protection and security. This is critical.
SmartVault is SEC, FINRA, and IRS compliant and can help you meet the need for a collaborative workflow tool with access and version control capabilities. Plus, SmartVault’s new UCC-9 105 digital asset vaulting capabilities enable your credit union to securely generate and store digital authoritative copies, providing another key competitive advantage for your institution given the rise of digital loan processing and relatively low adoption rates of this technology across the credit union sector.
Leverage these trends as a roadmap for your credit union’s 2022 technology planning. Together, these five credit union technology trends create a roadmap for your institution to follow for success in 2022 and in the years ahead. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the process of evaluation and implementation of the technologies, analyze your existing service delivery processes and channels from end to end, identify gaps or deficiencies, then formulate a strategy for reducing or eliminating them using trusted solutions that will help you retain and grow your member relationships.