Why credit unions must digitize new account openings to stay competitive

WesBanco (formerly Old Line Bank), like many financial institutions, used to process new client documents manually, leading to lost documents, siloed data and process bottlenecks. Through the power of digitization, WesBanco overcame these challenges. By leveraging software, WesBanco streamlined its outdated approach and now provides a much faster and more secure account opening experience. Credit unions that struggle with cumbersome workflows can follow WesBanco’s lead. By digitizing vital processes like new account opening, credit unions can enhance the member experience, drive operational excellence, and improve organizational growth outlook.

Analog organizations struggle in a digital world

Credit unions with analog new account opening process likely face more challenges than just lost paperwork. Even firms that do use digital tools may end up with disjointed infrastructures, such as when apps don’t integrate with core banking software. Without well-integrated technology, credit union employees have to revert back to manual processes, and double entry to complete their tasks.

This disconnected arrangement forces employees into a swivel-chair approach to validating member information — they must regularly switch back and forth between different apps, systems, and databases. Tackling new account openings without a centralized resource for managing data also makes it more likely a credit union falls short of Know Your Customer (KYC) or other compliance requirements.

Customers feel the pain of employees who cannot efficiently perform their jobs. Members who must fill out unclear onboarding forms without employee help or wait an extended period of time before being approved will likely abandon the process altogether and turn to a competitor. The lack of transparency in analog new account processes results in lost new members, and high costs for credit unions.

Poor internal efficiency, compliance snafus, and lack of member loyalty prohibit organizational growth.

Digitizing with ECMs is as easy as ABC

Many credit unions are rapidly shifting to deliver more digital services, such as new account opening. Those that build a digital backbone to support their revised offerings stand to enjoy immense returns on technology investments. For example, integrating an enterprise content management (ECM) platform with core banking systems centralizes member data, removes silos, and speeds up operations.

By adopting a similar approach, credit unions can overcome many of the challenges that arise from more traditional workflows. But, modernizing this way is not a “nice to have,” it’s an imperative. More than half of businesses (57%) and consumers (58%) consider online account opening a “must-have” for any bank or credit union they use. And nearly seven in 10 customers want a consistent experience with a company across all physical and digital channels.

In short, credit unions must quickly move into the digital era.

Digital tools, processes improve employee and customer experiences

Survey findings illustrate just how member expectations have evolved over time. “Seamless,” “efficient”, and “user-friendly” are table-stakes descriptions of customer service offerings, making it clear that modern consumers value their time and convenience. Digitizing key processes like new account openings allows credit unions to provide a smooth, uninterrupted experience that can be tailored to individual member preferences, no matter where a member is.

Consider identity verification, a cornerstone of new account setup. With thoughtful digitization, credit unions may not have to conduct a third-party check to verify the validity of a driver’s license; they can simply scan it for compliance, minimizing the likelihood that members must enter redundant information. With digital tools, the once-tedious process of extracting information from driver’s licenses, passports, or state IDs becomes automatic. Moreover, future identity verification happens in the amount of time it takes to capture a selfie and compare with the identity card automatically.

Digital account opening processes can also do things like automatically generate member account IDs, collect initial deposits from the new member, and fulfill preferences for debit card or check ordering. Electronic forms with pre-populated member information can drastically reduce the amount of manual data entry, speeding up the process while reducing the likelihood of human errors that can occur with repeated data entry.

Digital signatures or e-signatures are quicker than traditional signatures and can be integrated seamlessly into the digital account opening process. Credit unions that offer digital account opening can also save application drafts and give members the luxury to return to them when convenient. Instead of waiting days to receive a written letter, members can get instant status updates about their account-opening process via SMS or email. This immediate communication boosts transparency and trust between the credit union and its members.

The list of benefits goes on. But it’s easy to see how digital processes grant members the tailored, effortless experiences they demand.

The same functionality that earns member trust also helps credit unions transform their operations. Digitizing the new account opening process typically rests on the pillars of digital data capture, streamlined review and approval, and elimination of paper-based or analog workflows. These benefits help employees become more efficient in their roles, as well.

ZipRecruiter pegs the labor cost of manual member account opening at roughly $32 per account (The national credit union teller average wage is $16.00. Account openings tend to take around two hours each, resulting in a total cost of $32 per account opening). Viewed through this lens, the financial incentive to digitize becomes clear. The transition to a digital process reduces this labor-intensive approach, directly translating to more efficient workflows and significant cost savings.

With digital tools and processes in place, credit unions can gather data, analyze it, and identify trends and pain points. This capability empowers credit unions to make more informed decisions, optimize workflows, and continuously improve their operations.

Modernizing processes is the new digital imperative

WesBanco’s digitization highlights the benefits of a modern approach to employee and customer experiences. Digitizing processes is a strategic move that caters to the evolving needs of members, offering them an enhanced, efficient, and modern banking experience. As technology continues to evolve, credit unions that prioritize digital transformations will find themselves better positioned to keep their employees engaged and serve their members effectively to stay ahead in the competitive financial landscape. In fact, digital new account opening is no longer just paramount to success, it’s required.

This article was written in collaboration with CDP, a Laserfiche solution provider.


Contact the author: Laserfiche

Contact the author: Laserfiche

Joman Kwong

Joman Kwong

Joman focuses on tackling emerging industry challenges with process optimization solutions through market research. He specializes in partnering with third-party publications to create thought-leadership resources around technology and business priorities, ... Web: laserfiche.com Details