Only One Shot at a First Impression

Keep Bank Transfer Day momentum rolling.

March 12, 2012

First impressions are important. Over the years, astute observers have noted that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and first impressions are often the most accurate.

You want to make a good first impression if you’re in a job interview, giving a speech, opening a restaurant, on a date, or meeting your date’s parents. First impressions can make or break relationships.

And so it is with credit unions as they welcome the new members who came on board during the fourth quarter of 2011. Make a good first impression and those new members will become loyal, highly engaged advocates of your cooperative business model.

They’ll start singing your praises, and others will join the chorus.

In the business world, the practice of making a good first impression on a new customer/member is called “onboarding.” Credit unions have expressed a great deal of interest in the practice after Bank Transfer Day and related events generated membership growth of 200,000 in October, 500,000 in November, and 300,000 in December, according to CUNA estimates.

Most onboarding studies conclude that the first 90 days of a new relationship are critical. This is when new accountholders are most likely to purchase additional products and when 30% of them are most likely to leave—a rate three times higher than the attrition rate of more established accountholders.

Most financial institution onboarding strategies make the mistake of using a one-size-fits-all approach, according to a recent report from Javelin Strategy & Research. These institutions fail to consider the content and channel preferences that ultimately drive loyalty and cross-sales.

Javelin identifies four key steps to effective onboarding:

  1. Identify the reason for opening the new account.
  2. Identify income. 
  3. Identify age. 
  4. Choose the interaction channel and message content based on members’ preferences.

The report recommends segmenting and targeting new members so you choose the optimal message content and channel for each member segment. What you don’t want is a generalized, one-size-fits-all onboarding program.

Effective onboarding strategies have lowered attrition rates by up to 25% among all members and 50% among new members.

Our onboarding feature (“Bring New Members On Board,” p. 40) gives your credit union the tools it needs to make lasting first impressions on new members and to keep the Bank Transfer Day momentum rolling right through 2012.