The war to transform credit union web sites from brochureware to e-commerce sites: Project E-branch 2020

by. Jeff Chesky

Credit Unions are the only businesses on the planet that get high levels of repeat visitors to their web sites, day in and day out, for free, without ever having to pay for Google AdWords. They are also the only businesses that get this continuous, high quality repeat web traffic for free, but never try to sell anything online. You ask a credit union CEO if he is monetizing his online traffic to his web portal, and his eyes glaze over. Online banking generates millions of visitors every day, but credit union web portals are still just an expense item; a placeholder for brochure ware, celebrating a new branch, your support of the local Girl Scouts Troop, or a new loan product.

As an industry, credit unions must insist on a complete redesign of their web eco-systems so they can deliver online experiences like to their customers. Think about it – when you visit Amazon’s homepage, the first message you are greeted with is: “Welcome Back, Jeffrey.” Credit Unions have to insist that their products and services be available to be shopped, compared and purchased online without the member ever leaving the financial institution’s web site. Second, credit unions have to create an ‘E-Branch’ where their members can do business without ever having to make a phone call, visit a drive-up or park and walk into a branch. In the same way that Orbitz revolutionized the travel industry, and Amazon upended traditional retail distribution models, it’s time for credit unions to join the e-commerce revolution, and turn their websites into fee income generating machines.

Creating an entirely web-based insurance aisle allows customers real-time online access to the products they want and need; like auto, home and business insurance, AD&D, ID Theft, Roadside Assistance and Travel Protection. Your website is a perfect delivery system to replace third party direct mail campaigns, statement stuffers, rack brochures and other outdated analog distribution models for these products. When your member is paying bills and checking balances online, your website should enable them to get instant, real-time quotes from carriers on their desktop, and with one click purchase the products that they need with a single payment checkout – just like Amazon. Because 70 percent of Americans report that they begin their shopping for insurance products online – insurance products are an easy place for this transformation to begin.

Today, if your member wants to shop through your suite of available insurance products– they have to wait for a postcard, pick up a rack brochure, or call an unknown ‘800’ number. If there is an online option available; they are required to click to a third-party vendor site, where you lose complete control of the member experience. To make matters worse, these third party vendors keep as much as 90 percent of the fee income generated from these product sales, leaving you with table scraps. This cumbersome procedure may work for carriers and vendors, but it never works for your member, and certainly, should not work for you!

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