The Art Of Communicating a Product Conversion

An upcoming product conversion isn’t the easiest thing to explain to members, but there are ways to help prevent potential rumblings

 

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An upcoming conversion isn’t the easiest thing to explain to members. Its complexity can be challenging to communicate in layman’s terms. And when a conversion changes a credit union’s Web interfaces, members may feel they have entered unfamiliar territory when trying to access banking or bill payment services.

But there are ways to help prevent these challenges. By focusing on a few simple benefits the conversion will provide, looking to the vendor for assistance, and maintaining a consistent message, a credit union can effectively convey the benefits of a conversion to its members and provide a positive experience. Additionally, if the credit union has significant control over the front end, they can decrease the gap between the old and new interfaces, enabling members to focus on the benefits.

Focus on Benefits. Benefits are the first place to look when considering how to communicate a conversion to members. It is important to identify the key benefits before communicating anything to members. When a member understands ‘what’s in it for them,’ there tends to be more acceptance of the change that’s headed their way. The key is to be consistent with the message and post it in multiple places. The credit union should also identify any features and benefits of the current system that members will be losing with the conversion in order to communicate them adequately and be prepared to discuss them if a member inquires.

For instance, credit unions may choose not to convert all data during a conversion due to risk. When converting to MemberStreet Ò’s MemberBridge Ò online banking, Credit Union West located in Glendale, Ariz., proactively communicated to members that recurring payments would not be migrated in the conversion, and provided their members with instructions to set up recurring payments in the new system. The credit union focused as much attention on communicating the benefits of the conversion to their members.

“On the front page of our Web site, we integrated several ‘attention’ notices in bold-red font, along with links to more detailed explanations of the changes of our site to come,” said Debbie Winter, Information Technology Manager, Credit Union West.

Winter noted that the bulk of communication on CU West’s site focused on highlighting the unique advantages of the new system versus the old. It also explained what data would be converted and what items the member would need to re-establish in the new system.

“We received a flood of positive responses from our conversion,” said Winter. “In their comments, they even pointed out specific advantages that they liked better, such as its improved layout, design and user-friendliness.”

Vendor Assistance. Look to the vendor for assistance in marketing the conversion. Many vendors, especially those who focus on credit unions, are glad to assist with marketing efforts. A vendor with extensive experience in large conversions can help the credit union avoid pitfalls and provide insight into best practices to help the credit union’s marketing efforts.

Ask the vendor to provide examples of other credit unions that did a good job of marketing to their members when converting to a new system. Other credit unions are often more than willing to share their own experiences. Also, credit unions can save time and money by taking advantage of any template marketing materials the vendor has available.

Consistent Message. It is critical to create a consistent message. Like location is to real estate, consistency is the most important thing in marketing a change to members. There can never be enough planning, so be sure to identify:

  • what the key messages will be,
  • how exactly the messages will be worded,
  • where the messages will be visible, and
  • when the message will be delivered.

First Tech Credit Union, located in Beaverton, Ore., recently underwent a full rewrite of their front-end Web interfaces. With a change of this scale, it was critical that members were aware of the changes and excited to see the new interfaces.

“We started communicating our conversion a couple of months ahead of time,” said Char Shinn, First Tech’s vice president of e-Business. “In our communication tools we included changes and benefits that the members were going to receive as a result of our conversion.”

First Tech took full advantage of the communication channels available to them, utilizing newsletter articles, notices on the front page of First Tech’s Web site, branch posters, an e-mail to members two weeks in advance, an alert on the online banking page, footnotes in e-mail correspondence referencing members to the new site – even regular communication to employees, so employees could then communicate the benefits of the conversion to members.

“I think the important emphasis in communicating the new Web site was that the changes were driven by our members,” said Shinn. “We used their input and the results of usability studies to determine the new navigation. We helped them understand the role they played in shaping the new interfaces.”

Focusing on a few simple benefits, looking to a vendor for assistance, and maintaining a consistent message helps to effectively convey the benefits of a conversion to members. By using multiple approaches and frequent communications, a credit union can experience a successful conversion that its members welcome.

For more information on MemberStreet, contact your corporate credit union, visit http://www.memberstreet.com, or contact Nate Truelson, National Sales Director at (888) 656-4050, ext. 6126. For assistance in finding a vendor that will fit for your credit union’s conversion needs, click here to read an article previously posted on creditunions.com.

 
 

April 11, 2005


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