How To Convert Members To Digital During A Pandemic

Iterative changes drive digital growth at Truliant and Canvas credit unions.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • The use of digital banking has grown in recent months at Canvas and Truliant credit unions. Of note, more than half of these new digital users were already members.
  • To attract users, the credit unions have refined existing offerings with an eye toward resolving pain points. This new approach will be a central tenet going forward.

It’s hard to identify many positive outcomes from a deadly pandemic, but enterprising credit unions are taking the opportunity to refine their digital offerings and expand their reach.

Moving existing members into less-costly delivery channels has long been a strategic goal for many financial institutions across the United States. To determine best practices for turning existing members into first-time digital users, Callahan & Associated dove into the data to identify cooperatives that have increased both membership and digital usage during the pandemic.

Truliant Federal Credit Union ($3.2B, Winston-Salem, NC) and Canvas Credit Union ( $3.1B, Lone Tree, CO) have both re-opened their lobbies, but they are continuing to refine the digital experience they offer their member-owners.

By The Numbers

David Pierce, Chief Information Officer, Canvas Credit Union

Canvas grew its roll of online banking users by 12% from March through September; membership at the Colorado cooperative grew by 2.4%. As of Sept. 30, 46% of its 262,257 members were online bankers, says David Pierce, chief information officer at Canvas. According to second quarter analysis by Callahan, 56.4% of new digital users were existing members.

Truliant, meanwhile, recorded a 7.3% growth in website users and a 1.6% growth in membership in the second quarter. Callahan analysis shows 64.4% of those new users were existing members.

CU QUICK FACTS

Canvas Credit Union
Data as of 09.30.20

HQ: Lone Tree, CO
ASSETS: $3.1B
MEMBERS: 262,257
BRANCHES: 26
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 18.3%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 12.4%
ROA: 0.65%

Jeff Hibbard, Truliant’s vice president of digital innovation, says log-ins have increased by 18% since March, and 63% of its 267,735 members are now active users. For comparison, it was 59% at this point last year.

The most dramatic growth at Truliant occurred within the remote deposit functionality. Enrollment for that has grown 27% and volume has surged 49% since March. According to Hibbard, volume has begun to trend down after a summer peak, but 40% of Truliant’s check deposits remain via mobile. That’s up 25% from before the pandemic.

Truliant Improves Current Offerings While Adding Others

Even before COVID-19 came calling, Truliant had been working to understand and resolve pain points.

Jeff Hibbard, Vice President of Digital Innovation, Truliant FCU

“The past two years, we’ve worked to build a base of innovation,” Hibbard says. “We’re not using that as a generic catch-all buzzword but as a business framework for improving our processes — working internally and with partners to build it into our credit union just like any other department.”

In July, the North Carolina cooperative added free external digital loan payments, eliminating the need for branch visits for that task. It also upgraded its RDC by eliminating the waiting period after signing up and giving immediate access to funds.

One major improvement underpinned all this.

CU QUICK FACTS

Truliant FCU
Data as of 09.30.20

HQ: Winston-Salem, NC
ASSETS: $3.2B
MEMBERS: 267,735
BRANCHES: 32
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 24.2%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 8.0%
ROA: 0.97%

“The website redesign project we started in 2019 proved a bit providential as it was completed during the crisis,” Hibbard says. “It was designed to be mobile first. Through it, we made the website more member and user friendly, and made it easier to find guidance for user journeys. If you need to buy a car, for example, we’re able to tackle a lot of your common questions and digitally guide you through the process.”

That flexibility enabled the credit union to respond to the pandemic with a fully digital self-service Payroll Protection Program application, skip-a-pay loan options, and an unsecured loyalty loan for existing members who lost income.

Find the balance between creating the experience you want and fixing the things that create friction now. Some of the clearest answers are right in front of you.

Jeff Hibbard, Vice President of Digital Innovation, Truliant FCU

Current projects, Hibbard adds, include upgrades to the skip-a-pay experience through online banking and creating a better digital account and loan application process for new and existing members. Also coming soon is a new platform for members to access an expanded list of digital documents and improvements to the North Carolina credit union’s mobile app.

Each of those steps will be an answer to pain points and roadblocks identified through member feedback — things like tiered deposit limits and fraud risk management, which demand attention to compliance and risk but at the same time make banking easy.

“Find the right balance between creating the experience you want and fixing the things that create friction now,” Hibbard says. “Some of the clearest answers are right in front of you.”

Pierce, the Canvas CIO, says the coronavirus has also pushed the envelope on digital progress at his Colorado cooperative. Improving digital service has become a new part of its pantheon of imperatives.

“The pandemic accelerated the pace digital service adoption might have taken in years to just a few months,” he says. “Based on feedback from our members and shifts in consumer behavior, we added a new pillar to our vision to be known for ease of use.

“We see tremendous opportunity to use all the listening posts we have created to hear member feedback to inform our strategic roadmap for digital investment.”

Pierce says executing on the member-centric vision will be an iterative process that will include regular incremental service improvements amid larger investments.

“Throughout that journey, we will share each change, even the small ones, and invite member feedback, which we know will make us even stronger,” he says.

5 Principles For Digital Service

David Pierce, chief information officer at Canvas, says five linchpins are critical to the success of digital service at Canvas Credit Union.

Collaboration: Our “ease of use” vision pillar begins with us coming together as a team to solve challenges across the organization.

Focus: Tough decisions will have to be made about our priorities and where to begin with execution.

Data: The rigor we demand of one another will ensure we know why we’re doing what we’re doing and that we can measure our success along the way.

Member Voice: Everything we do at Canvas begins with listening. We’re experts in financial services, but that doesn’t mean we know all the answers. Hearing members’ voices ensures we are a relevant and meaningful organization to those we serve.

Testing: We believe in testing and using that feedback loop to stay agile and constantly improve.

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