A $10 Incentive To Move Members To Mobile

How a check deposit strategy helps Cornerstone Community increase mobile penetration and RDC usage.



Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.16

HQ: Auburn Hills, MI
ASSETS: $273.8M
MEMBERS: 27,511
ROA: 0.48%

As is common across the industry, foot traffic in the branches of Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union ($273.8M, Auburn Hills, MI) is not what it once was. But that doesn’t mean members expect less from their financial institution.

“The mandate from our members is that things are quick, easy, and efficient,” says Heidi Kassab, CEO of Cornerstone Community.

To Kassab, meeting these expectations means offering online and mobile banking channels that provide value to members as well as the institution. According to Kassab, members who actively use electronic banking services use, on average, 4.2 products per member versus 2.4 for those who don’t.

That difference in activity makes migrating members to digital channels the credit union’s No. 1 objective.

Take The Money And Run

Cornerstone Community rolled out its mobile banking solution in March 2013, but it wasn’t until March 2016 that the credit union introduced remote deposit capture functionality. RDC opened the door for new users who hadn’t been interested in mobile capabilities before. And the credit union was confident it could get new adopters to embrace additional products and services.

“Once we get you on the system, we can get you to use the other features,” Kassab says.

So, the $1 million question was: How do you entice members to use the system?

In August 2016, the credit union started offering $10 incentive checks to encourage members to download its mobile app and try out remote deposit capture.

“It’s our way of saying, ‘Try this with our money,’” Kassab says.

The credit union only distributes these incentive checks in its branch, typically in one of two scenarios.

The first, preferred scenario is during a new account opening. Once the teller or universal associate has opened the account, they walk the new account holder through the credit union’s electronic offerings.

“We ask them what kind of phone they have, help them load the app, and give them the check,” Kassab says.

The other scenario occurs when tellers or associates work with a member who comes in to deposit a check.

“We say, ‘Hey, you’re here to deposit a check. Did you know about our remote deposit capture option? We could have saved you a trip to the branch,’” Kassab says.

Since August, mobile penetration at Cornerstone Community has jumped 25% and RDC submissions have more than doubled, according to Kassab. Anecdotally, she’s noticed overall mobile traffic continues to increase while online traffic falls.

“People aren’t using online as much as they are using the mobile app,” she says.

It's not that we don't want our members to come into the branch. It's that we've recognized brick-and-mortar is a significant cost and people want to handle things on their own time.

Heidi Kassab, CEO, Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union

Teller Buy-In And The Future Of Branches

For Cornerstone Community’s RDC campaign to work, it must communicate to tellers and universal associates that encouraging mobile adoption is not against their best interests.

“The perception is that without the member in front of them, the teller’s job security goes away,” Kassab says.

The credit union took extra steps to explain how a more engaged member benefits the entire organization, explained how in the future their roles within the branch may evolve, and provided incentives to the tellers. Cornerstone Community pays out $2-$3 for every mobile account they set up.

Long-term, the credit union wants members to adopt online and mobile channels as functional alternatives to the branch, and it relies on its staff — especially tellers and universal associates — to explain the benefits of the technology rather than simply setting up accounts and aps for members.

To better advocate for the technology and understand how it works or where someone might get hung up, Kassab knew her staff must use it. So, she turned off their ability to check their own personal accounts through the credit union’s internal system and required them to go through the institution’s external channels instead.

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“They grumbled about it at first,” she says. “But it was the only way I could get them to embrace the technology. They can’t sell what they don’t know, and if they don’t endorse these services, neither will members.”

Kassab is confident the credit union’s mobile app is only going to improve. In the next 12 months, she hopes to make everything members can do online available on mobile. For her, it’s about giving members the ability to do everything on their device and reducing the need to come into a branch.

So, when does Kassab want to see members? She envisions the branch as a counseling center where members can come for advice or guidance, not a place where members come to open accounts or close a loan.

“It’s not that we don’t want our members to come into the branch,” the CEO says. “It’s that we’ve recognized brick-and-mortar is a significant cost and people want to handle things on their own time.”