The importance of improving the member experience cannot be overstated. In fact, a recent global survey by Forrester Consulting found that the top two business priorities for global companies across eight industries were: increasing consumer retention/loyalty and improving the member experience — while “grow revenue” came in third.
What Is Modern Membership?
The way you think about the member experience has a profound impact on the way you look at your credit union as a whole. Are you living up to the principle of people helping people? Are you offering advice and putting the member ahead of your bottom line?
Modern Membership is all about the member. It starts with a deep understanding of who they are; of what they’re trying to do with their money and how they want to feel as a result. It’s about providing seamless transitions across your delivery channels — online, mobile, in-branch, call center – with the personal touch your credit union is known for. It’s about personalization and offering relevant products and services. Modern Membership is about making sure your members get the support they need when they need it. Once you understand what your members want and need, you can align your purpose and decision-making in order to deliver.
By delivering Modern Membership, you’re giving your members the opportunity to live a life well spent. You’re showing that you are a credit union committed to delivering exceptional service (and in turn, fostering member loyalty). That you stand up for your members and live the people helping people philosophy.
Understand Your Member's Mindset
Jack Henry recently surveyed 630 credit union members and bank customers between the ages of 25 and 55. Respondents were asked how they feel about their current financial situations, how they feel about their relationship with their financial institutions, and for insights into personal interactions, digital interactions, and routines with their money. The findings? A staggering 76% of respondents live paycheck to paycheck, and 27% have no savings whatsoever. Only 47% of respondents said they are somewhat or completely financially confident — which means that one out of every two people who contact your credit union lack confidence.
The financial life of your member is the struggle between paying today’s bills and saving for rainy days.
The member experience may mean something different to every credit union, but all credit unions should be focusing on building their members’ financial confidence.
Step Into Your Member's Shoes
So, how do you make your members feel financially confident? The best place to start is by stepping into their shoes. Understanding their individual circumstances and what your member is trying to achieve in his or her moment of need. What are your members’ biggest challenges? What goals are they looking to accomplish? What are their current circumstances? What if your member is going through a messy divorce? Maybe another member is buying a home for the first time, and another is trying to pay for college. What would make their lives better?
Recognize Your Member's Circumstances
Scenario: First-time homebuyer. While incredibly exciting, buying a home — especially the first time around — can also be overwhelming and stressful. There’s so much your member needs to do upfront: get pre-approved, get pre-qualified, shop for rates, and learn the lingo (FHA, PMI, HUD, fixed rate versus adjustable, escrow). Once the process is started, it’s time to dig for paperwork like two-year-old W-2s and proof of renting an apartment from five years ago. It’s downright exhausting. One way to help might to be to host a seminar on the real cost of homeownership and what to expect when you’re a first-time homebuyer. You could also offer personal guidance — from your members’ first call to their closing date, checking in to see what they need help understanding or looking for. By helping your members through this nerve-wracking process, you’ll be seen as a trusted source — you’ll become a part of your members’ important life milestone.
Scenario: Divorce. When a family breaks up, your member’s budget will need an overhaul. For so long, this couple was planning a future together — sharing a home, security, and prosperity. But now, your member is independent and building a future for himself or herself — and maybe kids. During an emotional transition, help your members secure future financial goals. Is there concern of falling short of meeting expenses? Is there a need for new transportation or housing? Help them look for ways to cut back and free up cash for things they need for their new life. Maybe that looks like a loan to help tide them over. Maybe it looks like monthly budgeting templates to start keeping track of income (from job to alimony payments), living expenses without a spouse, monthly debt left over from the settlement, and court-related expenses. Helping your member improve these circumstances can be a real comfort and allow them to feel more confident going forward.
Scenario: Paying for college. Student debt in the U.S. is crippling the fastest-growing segment of today’s population. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a survey of 1,000 millennials reported owing at least $10,000 in student debt. More than a third owes more than $30,000, according to a survey quoted by Inc. magazine. Because of this debt, millennials aren’t buying cars, they’re not buying houses, and they’re not getting married: 41% of millennials can’t yet afford to buy a car, 31% are delaying buying a home, and 17% are waiting to get married — because they just don’t have the money. The quicker millennials can offload their student loan debt, the quicker they can feel financially confident enough to spend that money on large investments. To help your members who are burdened by student loan debt, consider offering consolidation assistance. For your members who are looking to pay for their children’s tuition, maybe offer special savings or loan programs and complimentary access to a financial advisor.
Where You Want To Be
Your members crave financial confidence, but right now they feel like their credit unions aren’t doing enough to help fulfill that craving. So, change the narrative. Deliver Modern Membership by listening to your members. By making them feel valued, understood, respected, and protected. Feed them the tools they need in order to make smart decisions and increase that confidence. In turn, you’ll have members for life.
Shanon McLachlan is the President of Symitar®.
Symitar, a division of Jack Henry & Associates (NASDAQ: JKHY), is the leading provider of integrated computer systems for credit unions of all sizes. Symitar has been selected as the primary technology partner by more than 800 credit unions, serving as a single source for integrated, enterprise-wide automation and as a single point of contact and support. Additional information is available at www.symitar.com.