As the ability to expand and advance member offerings online continues forward, credit unions are looking for enhanced ways to empower their members with technology to better understand their needs and position the credit union more favorably as the trusted primary financial institution (PFI). Popular solutions are emerging that provide personalized 24x7 advice based on a members' personal financial situation or needs.
The goal is to strengthen relationships with members through both one-to-one direct communication (branch and phone) and through the self-service website. Successful credit unions will be those that empower staff by providing the same technical resources to give the member consistent expert advice on a broad array of financial services - no matter which preferred communication channel the member uses. In addition, credit unions providing world class Internet capability that is consistent in content, education rich, customizable, and tightly linked to enhanced fulfillment will not only provide the member with better service but will also see the operational efficiencies and direct cost savings that Internet advocates have promised us for so many years.
Experion Systems and First Tech Credit Union are an example of one partnership to provide this sort of enhanced service offering to their members by deploying online decision making tools that use sophisticated models to personalize automated advice given to the member. For example, First Tech members who are unaware of what type of loan would be most beneficial to them can go the First Tech's website and use their Loan Advisor. Not sure how the new IRA regulations could positively impact you? Members are asked a series of questions and depending on their answers, the following questions will change until the best credit union loan options are found for them and explained. As a result, First Tech has seen an increase in the number of applications received, a record 1,729 mortgage applications in the past three months through their mortgage advisor, and 94% of members indicate they would recommend the First Tech Loan Advisor to a friend who is shopping for a loan.
As another user of Experion Systems solution is San Antonio Credit Union who's Loan Advisor answered 1,928 member inquiries, gave advice to 1,108 members, took 210 loan applications, and distributed 110 qualified referrals in November 2002. By providing advisory tools online, credit unions appear to be better able to strengthen their member relationships and become more than a place to store money, they become an advisor to their members.
An unanticipated benefit to each of these self-service advice tools for each of these two credit unions has been in enabling staff members to access the technology in their help of individual members needs. The staff is now able to learn more about each product offered and are empowered to guide a member through these series of questions to ensure that the member is offered the service best suited for them. In turn, advice given to credit union members is mirrored across all information channels.
Another important point to make is those members who are looking for help and information on services after primary service hours, are going to get this through a credit union's website. Boeing's Prime Alliance Mortgage Lending Advisor has seen 65% of their mortgage lending inquiries and applications come in after hours, thus showing the importance of offering 24x7 advice tools.
Credit Union Internet Strategies
Interested in more examples of how credit unions are providing personalized solutions via the Web? Callahan's NEW research report, Credit Union Online Services: Strategies for Using the Internet to Enhance Member Service includes informative case studies that describe how leading credit unions developed and implemented their Internet strategies.