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.
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.
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.