Four Ways to Engage Members Online

As internet technology evolves, members will expect your website to as well.


The credit union industry's reputation for excellent service is well earned. For 2008, the American Customer Satisfaction Index reported credit unions earned a customer satisfaction rating of 84 points, beating out banks at 75 points. In a 2009 report from ForeSee about online satisfaction, credit unions outperformed banks 86 to 82 points. The report credits "Website Functionality" as the primary driver of satisfaction and identifies "usefulness and variety of website features" as a top priority for 2009. While too many functions can distract and confuse site visitors, the careful placement of additional tools on your credit union's website will enhance the visitor's experience. Here are four ways your credit union can add interactivity to your website.

1. Polls and Surveys
Are you looking to foster a sense of online community? Brainstorm some new potential marketing initiatives? Conduct a thorough analysis of member satisfaction with your website? The depth of information desired from your members dictates how you use polls.

A simple, one-question poll like the one you see here can easily be built using websites that allow you to construct and track polls for free, such as or To build a sense of community through your website, craft a question that will make people want to respond, and then put it on a heavily trafficked part of your website. Make the question easy and fast to answer. If you receive an overwhelming response, be prepared to enact change to show you are listening. If you are looking to go more in-depth, the free services may not the best option. Consult a surveying firm to help you craft a survey that will capture representative results.

2. Videos
Thanks to YouTube, adding video content to your site is now easier than ever. Simply create an account on YouTube and upload your video. YouTube automatically converts the file, hosts it on their servers, and allows you to embed the video on your site, free of charge. By embedding the video rather than hosting it, your credit union can improve site performance while also saving money.

Travis Credit Union ($1.5B in Vacaville, CA) launched a video contest and asked members to submit videos about how Travis helps them do what they love. The members uploaded the video to TCU's YouTube group, and YouTube automatically scrubbed contestant videos for viruses. TCU then embedded the videos on their microsite TCU-Tube. Adding the videos caused a significant spike in the number of monthly visits to their website, and more importantly, 18% of visitors had never visited the site before. Further, average time spent on the site increased by 40%. Through TCU-Tube, not only has TCU gotten members more engaged with the website, it has allowed members to promote the credit union to potential members.

3. Online Chat
As with polls, let your communication needs determine how you use the technology. Reaching out to members opening new accounts or applying for loans? Enhancing members' home banking experience? Embedding a chat option on the public sections of your site will allow you to field general questions about your credit union and keep members from abandoning critical processes. If you are seeking an informal way to interact with your members, applications like Meebo Me (shown here) should meet most of your needs. If you are looking to chat with members through home banking, you need a more secure provider, such as LivePerson or Fuze. Before selecting a provider, explain your security needs to them to ensure your members' personal information will not be compromised.

4. Calculators
Many credit unions have added calculators to their sites, and America First Credit Union ($4.4B in Ogden, Utah) is just one example. America First originally had two basic calculators. As time went by, they received a growing volume of requests from members asking for more tools. With competitors’ sites offering a variety of dynamic tools, they realized they would either need to update their site or risk losing online traffic to their competitors.

Working with LeadFusion, they integrated over 80 different calculators throughout their site. Some served as sidebars or tabs on relevant product pages, such as this calculator (their most used) which appears on the landing page for auto loans. Others, featured on the site’s specially designated "Financial Tools" section, pose questions such as "How much will my adjustable rate payments be?" America First has seen some significant results. In March of 2009, for example, 8.2% of their website visitors had used a calculator. The credit union has found that an incredible 32.7% of all loan dollars requested came as a direct result of a member who first used a calculator.