Member Expectations for E-mail Communications Are Rising

Members have high expectations for receiving responses to their e-mail, but are credit unions meeting their needs?


As more and more consumers become experienced with using the Internet for purchases and research, they are also increasing their demand for online assistance and quick problem resolution. Online retailers, with their detailed help capabilities, 24 hour customer service, and chat capabilities are setting expectations that consumers will eventually expect all websites to meet.

Satisfaction Scores Reveal Areas to Improve

Callahan’s Survey Consortium recently conducted an online survey with 7,614 credit union members regarding their satisfaction with their credit union's website. Member responses show an opportunity for credit unions to improve in two areas: providing better means for members to communicate with their credit union, and helping members find answers to their questions.

Only one-third of members said they were very satisfied with either the ability to communicate with the credit union through the website or with the website’s ability to help them find answers to their questions.

Can Expectations Be Met?

The research revealed that members have high expectations for responses to their e-mails, with over half (52 percent) expecting a response within 8 hours. According to the survey, the majority want an answer within 24 hours. Even more alarming is the finding that 40 percent want an answer within 4 hours.

Member Feedback Shows Ways to Improve Member Service

While many credit unions do not have systems in place to support rapid e-mail responses, they should ensure that they manage member expectations by telling members when they can expect a response. If members have urgent needs, they can then choose to contact the credit union using another method. Other support options, such as telephone numbers or branch locations, should be accessible.

The member comments below provide examples of the difficulties that members have experienced in reaching customer service:

''I would like to e-mail a question and get an e-mailed response rather than a phone call at home when I’m not there. I can check e-mail more frequently.''

''Response time on e-mails needing help for questions is somewhat slow. Usually takes several days if an answer is given at all.''

''Not sure if you monitor the 'message board' - I've sent messages to the credit union from there in the past but have not had a response. Can we e-mail the credit union or use the message board to communicate or do you prefer we call?''

Some members spoke of difficulties finding basic information such as phone numbers or addresses. Another issue was being able to find customer service assistance within the online banking environment. Members did not want to log-out to find a phone number only to log back into their account.

''When a member applies for a loan online it would be nice to receive an e-mail back stating it was received...I have applied in the past and never even heard from anyone with the credit union.''

Some e-mail systems enable credit unions to prioritize their incoming e-mail, allowing them to answer product or loan-related inquiries first. When members have product-related inquiries at the time they are doing research, they may end up turning to a financial institution which has their options laid out clearly.

''I sent an e-mail Sunday about a vehicle purchase I wished to make. I wished to speak to someone, not just an automated system. No response 2 days later.''

This feedback clearly shows that while expectations are high, credit unions may be missing out on an opportunity to not only serve their members better but also enable them to more easily obtain additional products and services.

For information regarding Callahan’s Internet Strategy Consortium, a shared cost research group, contact Denise Senecal at 800-446-7453.




Nov. 14, 2005


  • Good examples of member expectations.