What’s on the horizon for credit unions looking to meet the needs of their online members? A select group of leading credit unions met last week for a roundtable discussion about strategies for improving their websites and the next generation of online tools and capabilities.
Callahan’s Survey Consortium roundtable discussion addressed the challenges of addressing member needs and expectations through the rapidly evolving e-branch. Online members rely on their credit union website to manage their finances and have high expectations for online information and transactional capabilities. They expect to easily find the answers to their questions and tools to complete their online transactions.
As credit unions expand to community charters and attempt to meet the growing competition from large banks and other online financial service providers, successfully reaching current and prospective members through the online channel is becoming increasingly critical.
How effectively is your credit union enhancing the member relationship through your online channel? Issues raised by the group are questions that every credit union should consider when planning their strategy for attracting new and retaining existing online members:
Operating as a full-service, self-service branch
For many online members, the credit union website is the primary channel they use to interact and transact with the credit union.
- Does your website enable members to conduct online the major transactions that can be conducted in a branch?
- Do you offer the information self-servicing members need to complete their online activities?
Removing usage barriers
Credit unions need to ensure they are consistently communicating the advantages of using the credit union website.
- Does your website communicate the safety and security features of your e-services?
- Do you communicate the benefits monitoring accounts through the use of online features such as account access, check images, and alert tools?
- How clear are the steps and processes to complete transfers?
- Showing members you want their business
Many credit unions have not considered whether their website reinforces the ease and benefits of making the credit union the primary financial service institution. Credit unions are working to implement tools such as online switch kits and thorough online account opening processes.
- Is it easy for members to understand your account options and select the right loan offering?
- Can members open accounts online or even fund new accounts through online banking? Can they open CDs, transfer money or apply for loans online?
- If members move beyond the physical branch service area, will the e-branch still enable them to be active members?
Leveraging the online channel to educate members
Many credit unions are implementing chat capabilities to help their online members quickly get information and help complete online transactions and loan applications. Knowledge management tools such as automated advice and knoweledebase solutions can help members find accurate, complete and consistent information in the self-service medium.
- How can members obtain answers to questions when conducting business via the credit union website?
- Is it easy for members to find through your website menus and search functions?
- How can the credit union provide immediate advice to a members’ specific situational needs and help them make a transaction decision online?
Online member feedback obtained via the Callahan’s Survey Consortium roundtable reveals opportunities for credit unions to strengthen their relationship with online members through the use of e-mail communication, account alerts, identity theft information and detailed financial-education information.