Step 1: From order takers to change makers

Only 24% of current credit union members see their credit union as their primary financial institution. Want to change that? Here’s the first in a three-part series to make inroads to being your members’ primary institution. 

Credit unions have long struggled with the knowledge that fewer than a quarter of their members view them as their primary financial institution (PFI). And if anything, it’s getting even harder to gain that status. With the range and quantity of competitors growing every year—do you ever wish for the “good ol’ days” when there was no such thing as fintech and Amazon was a river in South America? That struggle isn’t going away anytime soon. But, becoming your member’s primary financial resource can be critical to forming deep, trust-based—and sticky—relationships.  

Move from order taker to change maker

In many ways, your members aren’t the same people since COVID hit. For better or worse, the things they expected out of life a year ago might be very different from their expectations now. They’ve likely gotten comfortable with digital tools and they may need different financial assistance and products. Members now demand 24/7 anywhere access to your credit union’s resources and they’re more likely to expect to tackle financial challenges and tasks with limited in-person assistance. This creates both challenges and opportunities for creating deep membership relationships—things that can make your credit union your members’ PFI.  

What has your credit union done—or what are you planning to do—to serve members living in this new paradigm? You need an action plan that allows your credit union to be more personal and more engaging. You need to uncover what members truly need today from you and do all you can to deliver it.  

Lead with lifestyle engagement.

It’s no longer enough for your credit union to simply offer members a product or service. Today’s members want you to understand them and to fully engage with them. Members want to be directed to the choices that are best for them—whether that direction comes through digital channels, a phone call or an in-person, one-on-one conversation. And they want those solutions to meet the needs they have right this minute.

Yes, understanding the choices the member made three or six or 12 months ago can sometimes be helpful and pertinent. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s change can happen overnight. What your member needed last week may be different from what they need today. Which is why it’s so critical to interact with members in a real-time environment. And so important to enlist technology to make that happen. 

But wait, you might say—my credit union employees are superheroes and will diligently attempt to understand and meet even dynamic member needs. We agree—your staff is a tremendous asset! But they need support, data and the right tools to make every member engagement meaningful and efficient. It’s simply not possible to gather, analyze and act on the myriad data your members are generating every day without some help. Digital tools can enable those right-now conversations, give your staff up-to-the-minute insights and empower them to provide the tailored solutions your members want and need.

If you worry adding digital tools will minimize your staff’s role—or take them out of the equation—we’d counter they enable and help strengthen the staff/member connection.  

A recent conversation with Pam Haller, EVP – Chief Digital Experience and Marketing Officer at Royal Credit Union ($3.5 billion assets, Eau Claire, Wis.) shows how. “Yes, the technology might tell me that a member is potentially interested in these three products. But it’s the human interaction with the member that determines today’s the day this member needs a HELOC. It’s about listening to your member, understanding their interests and seeking to engage them in a meaningful relationship based on the products and services that they state are of interest.”

Have a personalized conversation on every channel 

As your members engage with your credit union across multiple channels, it becomes more critical—and more difficult—to ensure each of these conversations are operating from shared data and information and delivered in the same way.  

As valuable and flexible as your staff is, it can be difficult to have a conversation with the “show me you know me” aspect members are looking for when they engage with your credit union. Previous conversations are often lost and your staff may not even be aware they took place. And that can lead to repeated steps, inconsistent messages and member frustration.

Plus, hard as we try, it’s very difficult for humans to do the same task the exact same way every time. Even a great loan officer might ask a question in a way that’s difficult for a member to understand or forget to gather key information, at least some of the time.  

The best way to ensure your credit union gains the key insights that will best empower you to meet members’ needs: Rely on technology. Look for tools that consistently gather and manage member data and make it available to your staff. Whether your member engages through online banking or your website, contacts the call center or comes in-person, the experience and information gathered should be the same. 

Each of your members has unique challenges and needs. They don’t want to be sold products and solutions. They want to feel you’re taking the time to understand them and are committed to getting them on track to meeting their financial wellness goals—even if they never meet you face-to-face or every interaction is online. Recommend and fulfill members’ lifestyle needs with genuine engagement and understanding, not a product or solution. 

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution that will meet every member need, which is why you need to own every financial moment you have with your members. And while your staff can provide the personal touch, partnering them with enabling technology ensures they have the insights necessary to serve members’ evolving needs. Personalized, customized, intuitive technology that leverages member insights to guide them to a better financial future. 

Come back next month when we’ll be exploring how “One size never fits all” when it comes to products and services.

Wondering what you should look for in a technology partner?
Here are five questions that can help.

Whitney Loe

Whitney Loe

Whitney Loe is the Director of Business Development for Credit Unions for Ignite Sales and joined the team in 2019. Whitney began her career in financial industry in 2007 working ... Web: Details