Many credit unions focus on providing a variety of services to attract, retain and increase membership. One increasingly common service is online account opening. A substantial number of these credit unions believe that providing online account opening will automatically equate to new member growth. Although the streamlined process of online account opening offers many benefits, in order to reap the full rewards of the new software available, credit unions need to incorporate the streamlined account opening process to in-house operations as well.
First, let’s look at some of the typical in-house challenges credit unions face when opening accounts and memberships today:
- More and more background checks: Today’s increased regulatory compliance issues (like the Patriot Act) piled on top of background checks for fraud, creditworthiness, and other items are making the process of creating a membership harder from an administrative perspective.
- Consistent decision process: Your credit union’s staff reviews many applications during the day. How do you know applications are being processed consistently?
- Lots of paper: You have to keep records of the application in addition to the process and decision-making criteria involved in approving or denying it. But where do you store all that paperwork? How accessible is the information to everyone in the organization who might need to access it?
- Time: When you add the complexities of an ever-growing number of choices for products and services (debit cards, auto loans, home banking, bill pay, etc.) with the regulatory measures involved, some industry pundits speculate it takes as much as 45 minutes to an hour to process a single membership. This time is far too lengthy for our “instant reward” culture and may frustrate newly minted members.
So what can be done to overcome these challenges and allow for your credit union’s staff to become more efficient and productive in the account opening process?
- Recognize account opening as the business process that it is.
- Use tools to facilitate successful, consistent practices.
- Make sure these tools require you to collect (or enter) application data ONCE, and keep it electronically accessible for future use.
- Use the same decision matrix EVERYTIME—regardless of which branch it came from, whether it was sent by mail or entered online.
- Automate the clerical processes. Set up system integration to feed collected data to other systems to eliminate data re-entry.
- Get help managing the exceptions. Everybody thinks of the applications that go through the first time. A real issue is how to give your team the tools they can use to keep track of the exception cases and what was done to resolve them.
In the end, measure the process. Like almost all things managerial, you cannot learn how to improve it if you cannot measure it. For instance, how long does it take an applicant to become a member online from start to finish? How long does the same process take in-house? What portion of your new members apply online vs. in the branch vs. via mail? How many of your applications become exceptions? And for what reasons does this occur?
Why is all this important? You obviously want to furnish a smoother and faster process for the member, rather than frustrating them by asking them to answer the same questions or fill in the same information on multiple forms. You want to provide them with the opportunity on their schedule and make it easy.
For your credit union, you must reduce errors and increase consistency in your account opening process. With today’s member account opening software solutions, you can achieve error reduction and consistency enhancements with your decision-making. As a result, you can process more applications with fewer staff involved. And with many online applications, you can process account openings without any human intervention at all, which eases the workload for everyone.
It’s easy to assume that online account opening leads to new member growth. But you need to consider how any new processes will affect your staff. Many credit unions are turning to online account opening solutions, like fiVISION’s accountWORKS, to alleviate staff frustration from having to enter identical data in multiple systems. This solution, one of many in fiVISION’s CRM product suite, automates mundane applications and focuses staff on the challenging tasks, which are more stimulating and rewarding for them. With this software solution, your credit union’s operations will be more efficient, more productive, and less costly — all of which equate to enhanced member satisfaction.
For more information about fiVISION’s accountWORKS account opening solution and its other CRM products, visit www.fiVISION.com.