Improve Your Digital Convenience

Good digital channels aren’t cheap, but they’re cheaper than seeding your market with branches.

November 1, 2012
Ben Rogers says he’s haunted by a paradox: People love credit unions’ staff, service, and integrity but they’re slow to join credit unions.

In fact, nearly 70% of nonmembers between the ages of 18 and 24 are “not at all familiar” with credit unions, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Survey of Potential Members.

Part of the answer in attracting young adults lies in improving credit unions’ “digital convenience,” says Rogers, research director for the Filene Research Institute.

“Personal service really means ‘suitable’ service,” Rogers says. “Often, that service is best given online. It’s a different kind of convenience, but for simple savings, checking, and credit cards, remote delivery is extremely convenient.”

Good digital channels aren’t cheap, he says, but they’re cheaper than seeding your market with branches. Citing the Filene report, “Big, Small, or Online? Young Adults’ Evolving Financial Preferences,” Rogers offers this advice to credit unions wanting to improve their digital convenience:

Develop technology products internally instead of relying solely on third-person solutions.

“Applications that mash data from in-house resources are more doable than applications requiring you to develop and maintain new data,” Rogers says. “If this focus requires hiring a great technologist, it’s money strategically spent.”

Scrap plans for new branches and create a virtual branch instead. Gen Y consumers will be more likely to join—and stay at—your credit union because of its account features and electronic services.

Fix your online storefront and then dive into social media. Too many credit unions insist on chasing Facebook fame now even if their online storefront needs work.

“The paradox will only resolve,” Rogers says, “when credit unions catch membership growth and a new generation of satisfied members with a value proposition that matches fast-growing online banks.”