Communicating Shared Branching Benefits

Communication strategies can help both credit unions and members realize the full benefits afforded by shared branching.

 
 

Credit unions increasingly understand the opportunity behind shared branching. Benefits such as disaster recovery and economies of scale are clear to the credit union, but getting the message to the members often proves more difficult. As credit unions seek to leverage shared branching to retain existing members and attract new ones, effectively communicating and explaining shared branching is critical. Below are some best practices credit unions are already finding successful as they promote the network.

Targeted Messaging
Creating a tailored communication process specific to shared branching can be an effective means of retaining and attracting members. For example, when a member submits a change-of-address notice, the verification process should include information about shared branching and offer steps for the member to find their nearest branch. This extra step can help member retention and reinforces credit union convenience.

Complete Information
When members inquire about branch locations, they want detailed and complete information. The members should be able to access the information from all channels, and the information should be visible, comprehensive, and searchable. Whatever medium the member prefers, the listing of locations should include not only credit union branches but also outlets, service centers, ATMs, and kiosks. If possible, differentiating the locations by services available (i.e. cash-only, deposit- taking, full service) is advisable. One example of how this information is clearly laid out is Hanscom Federal Credit Union’s ($466 million in Hanscom, MA) website at http://locator.hfcuonline.org/. Providing members this level of detail improves the members’ knowledge and their perception of the credit union.

Value and Convenience Branding
Marketing is a critical communication channel for many credit unions. Positioning and branding the credit union around the value and convenience of shared branching presents an opportunity for credit unions to demonstrate their cooperative difference and commitment to member service. For example, University Federal Credit Union ($727 million in Austin, TX) posts a giant digital sign behind its teller that displays the number of locations available to members on a real-time basis.

Through shared branching, credit unions are creating a competitive advantage not just at the institutional level but also for the industry. However, the onus is on the credit union to ensure members are aware and informed about the benefits and opportunities that shared branching allows.

To learn more about best practices in shared branching, please view our webinar, Shared Branching: Enhancing Credit Union Service and Efficiency, brought to you by Callahan & Associates and sponsored by Credit Union Service Corporation.

 

 

 

July 17, 2006


Comments

 
 
 
  • Share Branching has become a tremendous member retention vehicle for credit unions. For instance, in our stateside market we will have a total of 12 brick and mortar outlets for our members to use. By including the share branching outlets our members have access to more then 22 outlets! (These are locations only within our state) I’ve heard push back on share branching because of the fear of losing members to other CU’s or being sold products while their members are within other outlets. Hog-wash – In fact the vendors who supply the switch and technology for this type of service have “Cross Selling” to other CU members as the number one do not do. The truth is if your members are going to move out of your extended CU area you will most likely lose that member. If you offer share branching and the ability for that member to continue to conduct business with you, you’ll retain more members. We all know how hard it is to gain a new member. The benefit to your members is convenience and ease. Share branching should be marketed during your initial interviews with a new member explaining the other outlets they can use, whether on vacation or just happen to be closer to another outlet. A huge emphasis should be on educating your staff employees about the program and how to conduct a need based conversation with a member when they express interest in closing their account because they are moving. Membership retention. These are the best marketing sources you have.
    Mike