Harnessing Member Feedback to Improve Your Website

Continued growth in the online channel makes it even more critical for credit unions today to ensure they are meeting member needs and increasing expectations.


Online surveys offer many advantages for credit unions interested in exploring ways to improve their website’s research and transactional capabilities. Not only are online surveys a cost-effective method for reaching a large population quickly but they also provide capabilities to enhance survey design and analysis. But the speed and ease of creating online surveys can also result in missed opportunities and member dissatisfaction. Credit unions should regard the collection of online member feedback as a valuable resource requiring as much care as other member communication programs.

The Internet Strategy Consortium has been conducting online member research since 2001, typically obtaining feedback from more than 10,000 credit union members per quarter. Below are some key insights from this experience that credit unions should consider when designing their own online member research.

Include demographic questions to uncover needs of different user segments
Some managers shy away from asking questions about income or gender because of their sensitive nature. But credit unions are missing a chance to refine both messaging and online articles or tools by avoiding sensitive subjects. Our recent ISC survey on auto lending revealed significant differences in the types of resources that members want available on the credit union website. Women were far more focused on the monthly payment amount when considering a financing option, while men focused on the rate.

These differences can be critical if the credit union is trying to attract a particular segment, or design programs for a specific SEG. And the segment differences that exist may be different than expectations. Members are willing to answer questions such as age or income, particularly when the categories are broad.

Take the opportunity to collect comparative data
It’s no secret that members are turning to other financial service providers in addition to their credit union relationship. However, the reason that the member did not use the credit union is not the same as the reason why they chose that specific provider. Understanding the specific competitors that members use can help credit unions refine their product offerings or online capabilities.

For example, seeing a significant proportion of members turn to their employer’s 401K plan provider for financial planning needs would suggest different strategies than members using self-directed services such as eTrade. We usually ask for competitor information by including a list of names, while allowing members to type in other responses. Members who feel the information is too sensitive can either skip the question or write this in the other category but usually few do so.

Balancing on the line between too few and too many questions
We have found that online members are more than willing to provide feedback , as long as the task is not too confusing or time consuming. But credit unions need to resist the urge to load the survey with questions that are “nice to know” as opposed to important to the issue at hand. Surveys that are too short and do not give members a chance to explain their responses may miss part of a more complicated picture. Surveys with only closed-ended response categories are easier to administer and analyze but may only serve to reinforce management assumptions. Member comments are valuable for illustrating concerns and may raise new issues to consider. Including a status bar to update members on their progress can help lessen drop-offs and increase response rates.

Take advantage of technology to lessen burden on member
Asking members questions on issues that don’t apply to them will frustrate them and can mess up your data analysis. Most survey software programs today enable the design of surveys that skip respondents to different questions based on their response to an earlier question. This allows the credit union to ask more questions of the right groups. In one survey, credit unions asked targeted questions of members who had a home equity loan versus those with a home equity line of credit. Still different questions were asked of members who did not have a home equity loan, along with a set of questions that were common to all three groups.

Don’t forget to thank your members and keep them informed
Finally, it is important to remember to recognize your online membership for their continued support both publicly and by actually making the improvements that they suggest. Members are usually taking their time to help the credit union because of a genuine desire to help the credit union improve. Even when members are critical of the credit union, they sometimes make comments in appreciation of the opportunity to give feedback to the credit union. Some credit unions routinely highlight member feedback on their websites and newsletters to inform members about current or future improvements and to reinforce the benefits of their relationship. This can help increase both member loyalty and continued participation in future research.

To hear more about ways to obtain actionable feedback from members, attend the Improve Your Website Using Member Feedback and Data a webinar brought to you by Callahan and Associates.

The Internet Strategy Consortium is a shared cost research group focused on enhancing the credit union online channel. For more information on joining the Consortium, please contact Denise Senecal at dsenecal@creditunions.com or by phone at 1-800-446-7453.




Sept. 24, 2007



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