Just like a branch, the credit union website must be designed to fulfill a wide variety of member needs. However, unlike in the branch, the novice or confused member using your website does not have a credit union employee there to assist them. In the online realm, that member is more likely to simply leave your site, taking their business from your credit union in the process.
As competition with online-only banks intensifies, it is critical for credit unions to ensure that members are able to easily fulfill their needs on the credit union website. Getting members to your site is challenging enough – but keeping them there (and satisfied) is the bigger challenge.
The online realm is becoming very competitive, with the popularity of online banks such as ING Direct and eTrade that claim industry-leading rates and convenience. A recent survey by Callahan’s Internet Strategy Consortium found that one in ten credit union members had a high-yield savings account at another institution – and like it or not, they are comparing your website with those competing institutions.
What do your members think?
Most member frustration stems from the simple situation where a member is unable to find what they initially came to the site for. Credit unions can minimize this frustration by focusing on the content, features, and usability of their websites.
- Content: Does the site offer the basics that members have come to expect of all financial institutions? To find out what your members expect to find, you can survey your members or ask your front-line staff for their observations about common member questions. Features such as Bill Pay, Account-to-Account Transfers, and Opening a New Account are seen by many consumers as basic offerings, and the absence of these features can negatively affect their impression of the credit union.
- Education: One often overlooked content area is providing financial information and educational materials. In a 2005 survey of credit union members conducted by the Callahan’s Internet Strategy Consortium, two thirds of credit union members said they would turn to the credit union website for unbiased advice regarding financial products and services. However, many credit unions only offer limited educational information on their websites. As one member from the survey commented, “[I would like to see] more information on types of investments (i.e. 529 plans, savings for children, etc. )”.
- Usability: Members must be able to find information easily and intuitively. Determining how well members are able to navigate and use your website can be somewhat complicated. One option is to do formal usability testing where expert companies arrange focus groups, conduct one-on-one interviews, and use special technology to record the sample group as they use your site.
Another way to obtain this insight is through informal testing, where you observe someone who is unfamiliar with your website as they complete basic tasks. While not a substitute for formal testing and outside expertise, informal observation can be a quick way to identify problems (such as ambiguously worded buttons) that otherwise might result in upset members.