The case for onboarding: A timely way to help credit unions build loyalty

Technology continues to eliminate face-to-face contact and cross-sell opportunities and with the proliferation of online account opening platforms: now is the time for a formal onboarding process.

Challenges of the past few years have changed how consumers view their primary financial institutions. Loyalty is harder to come by these days. According to the 2011 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Survey by J.D. Power and Associates, more people are willing to switch their PFIs, more financial institutions are being considered in the PFI selection process, and more consumers are turning to non-PFIs for additional banking products they may need. It seems the days of checking accounts making for “sticky” PFIs may be numbered.
But that’s not necessarily true for credit unions with effective onboarding programs. These institutions are seeing real success in building stronger, deeper relationships with new members from the first day of opening an account.

Onboarding involves introducing new members to your credit union during their early weeks or months of membership. Part educational and part promotional, the process helps your members see the full value of your credit union. When done effectively, the results show higher retention rates, broader product usage and lower servicing costs.

So how are these effective credit unions doing it? The key is using well-planned, sustained and value-driven email messages. The most common timeframe for an onboarding program is 90 days to six months. Included among the elements of successful onboarding practices are:

  1. Simple, easy-to-read emails
  2. Similar design styles and formats across all messages
  3. Deliberate, slow-and-steady delivery schedules
  4. Supplemental welcome calls at two-week and 60-day intervals

Happily, today’s technology allows for the onboarding process to be simplified and cost-effective. Messages can be personalized based on members’ individual profiles, often synchronized with credit union data files. Certified email engines can automatically deliver customized emails at timed intervals to keep the credit union name in front of members, without being pushy. And systems can manage email lists for bad or duplicate addresses, while collecting delivery and open-rate measurements.

The shifting consumer trends affecting today’s financial services industry are providing credit unions with great opportunities to draw in – and retain – new members through initiating a strong onboarding program. It’s a proven marketing strategy that, when done right, can build loyalty, trust and “stickiness” among your membership.
For credit unions, the timing has never been better.

Ron Daly is President of DigitalMailer, a digital communications and electronic marketing firm providing credit unions the power to reach their members across multiple digital channels, including onboarding programs. You may contact him at

Ron Daly

Ron Daly

Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms ... Web: Details