A CU’s ‘eWelcome’
New members who join $1 billion asset Meriwest Credit Union, San Jose, Calif., get an “eWelcome” in the form of emails sent at staged intervals throughout their first 90 days of membership, says Tony Cortez, vice president of marketing. The first week’s email welcomes the new member and offers a link to the credit union’s website for more information.
At the 14-, 21-, 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks, the credit union sends messages highlighting specific services—online banking, bill pay, and direct deposit—to those who haven’t yet signed up for them, Cortez explains. Emails promoting core products are also sent to segmented groups that have yet to adopt them.
The electronic communications work in tandem with an outbound calling program with similar criteria. While many members choose email as their preferred mode of contact, members can also specify other communication channels.
“Members can select the best method of contact—in-person, phone, mail, or email—and their favorite method of banking, whether it’s in-person, by ATM, mail, or online,” Cortez says.
An online account-opening process allows new members to join Meriwest and fund their accounts in one session. The same process is used for members adding products at a later date.
A switch kit offers a master account application, a close-and-transfer letter, and a direct deposit switch form. Setting up online banking and bill pay is a simple process supported by online videos. But members still face the time-consuming challenge of transferring their accounts.
This highlights the reality that switching financial institutions represents a major commitment for new members—making onboarding an ongoing challenge.
“Bank Transfer Day made a splash and caught the attention of many, especially the media,” Cortez says. “But something as serious as choosing your financial institution deserves more than a single day’s attention.”
Avoid the 'Emotional Unsubscribe’
Credit unions must ponder the timing and content of onboarding messages to avoid prompting new members to “emotionally unsubscribe,” says Ron Daly, president/CEO of DigitalMailer.
DigitalMailer and other vendors offer a “product matrix” to identify the next likely purchase for members based on current product use and demographics.
Daly compares this to online retailers’ recommendations for “products that may interest you” based on other purchases by “people who bought this item.”
“It’s not one-to-one-marketing, but it’s an approach based on making the messaging more relevant to the receiver,” Daly says.
Products and features most likely to engage new members include:
Daly says it’s essential to use the communication channels members prefer or they’ll simply ignore your messages.
Member onboarding tools that are integrated with the core system make it easier to collect data, send mailings, and ensure members get the right offers, says Eric Olsen, director of professional services at Sedona Corp. Surveys and outbound calls can reinforce the relationship and gather data used to determine future offers.
“You’re trying to get a sense of who these people are, what their relationship with the credit union is, and what they want out of it,” Olsen says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all environment.”
One way to impress newcomers is to facilitate an easy transition and ensure you have the right products to meet their ongoing financial needs, according to Harland Clarke, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.
Harland reports the most successful onboarding strategies: