Strategic Business Use of the Internet: Part 1 - What “Others” are Doing and Why

Some financial services companies doing business online demonstrate that they have taken the time to understand what their customers need, when they need it, and how they need it. What characteristics do these sites have in common and what can credit unions learn from them?

 

By L9.com

 

Let's say for the sake of argument that we're approximately in the tenth year of the commercial use of the Internet, and to be fair, in only the latter half of that can we honestly claim that a great many people have really understood what they were doing.  That means for at least five or six years now a lot of the basics have already been nailed down and shouldn't really need to be dredged back up again because the general audience of consumers has become so sophisticated.

It's pretty safe to say that most people school-age and older nowadays are able to comment pretty constructively about “usability” and “interaction design” whereas only a few years ago most people hadn't yet gained enough experience to know what was good, bad, ugly, or even truly amazing when they saw it.  Now they do.

That brings us to the point of the first in this three part series using the Internet, and the web in particular, to assist you in meeting your strategic business objectives, namely what “others” are doing and presumably why.  The next two parts discuss what CU competitive strengths are and how you can exploit them online, followed by examples of safe tactics that could be employed that are independent of CU philosophy or asset size.

Part 1: What Others are Doing and Why

There is a natural tendency to think about business strategy by looking at what direct competitors are doing.  That's not a bad place to start, especially if you know who your competitors really are.  In the credit union space it is NOT other credit unions.

We could go through a very interesting, fun and provocative exercise identifying others who aren't the competition, but for the purposes here it is most constructive simply to list some of the “players” who are redefining what it means to do business in financial services in the first decade of the 21st century.  Here are just a few; and none of them are banks, CUs, retail or auction sites -- just financial services companies doing business online in ways that demonstrate that they have simply taken the time to understand what their customers need, when they need it, and how they need it:

Etrade.com

Ditech.com

Lendingtree.com

ML.com

Geico.com

PayPal.com

Moneycentral.msn.com

ERA.com

Genworth.com

Smartmoney.com

Progressive.com

Blackenterprise.com

What are some of the characteristics these sites share in common?  Consider the following attributes, and add to them:

Convenient

Transaction-Ready

Educational

Decision-Supportive

Consolidated

Multi-Channel “Multi-Style” Customer Support

Thorough

Brand-Confidence

It's worth looking at these sites if you are not already familiar with them.  The point here is not to compare them detail by detail, but rather to envision oneself as a potential customer.  Is what they are doing and how they are doing it effective at drawing you in?  Are you tempted to try some of their “stuff”?  Do you say to yourself “bookmark this; these guys have something good here.”

Now, what can you do, within the scope of your interests and capabilities in your business with your customers to engender the same kinds of reactions in them when they experience your site?  The real answer may not be what you guess.  Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this series, because the challenge isn't as insurmountable as you may presume. 

This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

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Sept. 25, 2006


Comments

 
 
 
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. As an 8 year veteran in E Marketing at a credit union...and most recently, trying to redesign the website, this article was much needed. I need to get upper management to look at website redesign in a more strategic manner and this makes my job a little easier. I have passed this onto my superiors to help them look at websites in a more constructive manner. Please include SEO as a very important consideration in restructure and design. I can' t wait for your next article, hurry!
    Anonymous
     
     
     
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. As an 8 year veteran in E Marketing at a credit union...and most recently, trying to redesign the website, this article was much needed. I need to get upper management to look at website redesign in a more strategic manner and this makes my job a little easier. I have passed this onto my superiors to help them look at websites in a more constructive manner. Please include SEO as a very important consideration in restructure and design. I can' t wait for your next article, hurry!
    Anonymous
     
     
     
 
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