The foundation for all successful credit unions is outstanding
member service and support. However, in today's digital world most
credit unions have focused their Web channel on extending products
and services, but not much attention has been placed on developing
and refining online support. Let’s further explore the components
of an effective digital
support channel and discuss how the benefits of developing this
Web channel extend far beyond improved member service and support
and actually can make your Web site a profit center.
Each of your delivery channels provides your members with a method
of doing business with you and offers a unique set of perceived
benefits, many of which are centered around convenience. In all
cases, members will only use a channel if they perceive the benefits
to be the best alternative for meeting their individual needs. Your
branch, phone, ATM and Web channels all extend unique benefits to
your members, and all share two primary delivery components:
- Completing a transaction
- Getting information relevant for doing business with you
Completing a transaction includes things like opening an account,
getting a loan, depositing checks and changing a home address. Transactions
result in a change within your business relationship with that particular
Information puts your members in control of their financial
well being and business relationship with you. Among other things,
it allows them to understand what products and services you offer,
how to use these offerings and provides them with the information
necessary to determine what products and services are best for their
particular circumstances. To be useful, this information must be
easily accessible, timely, understandable and presented in the proper
context for members to effectively use in making decisions and in
using your offerings.
Since everyone wants to be in control of their finances while minimizing
the time spent conducting business with their credit union, giving
members quick and easy access to information they care about to
help them make informed decisions is critical to the success of
your credit union. Online member service and support provides the
key ingredient to providing members with the information they need,
when they need it and in the proper context to allow them to quickly
and easily make informed decisions and to use your products and
A digital support channel (DSC) -- discussed in more detail
in my recently published articles in the CU Times and CU Journal
and recapped here
-- involves a suite of web-based software tools focused on facilitating
and tracking information flow between your credit union, your staff
and your members, which subsequently improves member service and
support; all the while a DSC logs activity for use in providing
more personalized service and in permission-based targeted marketing
activities. The ubiquitous nature of the Internet provides the perfect
delivery for the anytime, anywhere nature of a DSC.
Another important benefit of a DSC is that it brings together
member interactions from all support channels to ensure consistency
and accuracy across all your delivery channels. A digital support
channel can be delivered by developing it yourself, integrating
several vendor products or by using a product suite such as the
one offered by our company, called Fuze MemberLink.
When creating a DSC, it is critical to extend it to your members
outside the ''walls'' of online banking. Why?
- 65% to 90% of your members don't use online banking.
- The majority of your members are already comfortable doing research
and emailing on the Internet and a DSC provides them with a comfortable
migration path to using your digital channel.
- Three primary factors influence consumer adoption of technology:
1. The perceived risk of using the technology; 2.
The perceived value derived from the technology, and, 3.
The perceived difficulty in using the technology. Since members
generally perceive the risk of completing transactions online
as high, a DSC outside of your online banking services provides
your members with a low-risk and high-value reason to use your
As an example, Brian Warfel, Senior Vice President of Power
1 credit union states:
''We have enjoyed tremendous success in accelerating adoption
of our eStatements offering once we stopped requiring members to
first have an online banking account. eStatements provides our members
with yet another method to get comfortable with our online channel
before jumping into what is perceived as ''the deep end of the
pool'' with online banking.''
- Your Web site can provide an excellent vehicle to broaden your
members' view of your credit union’s financial capabilities,
and by delivering greater value through your Web site, you will
get more members to use it.
- It’s a whole lot easier to get your members to migrate
to your online banking services once they get acquainted with
your digital channel and, with one click, can view material explaining
the benefits, ease of use and security of online banking.
There are several compelling reasons to create a digital support
For your Members:
- Safer and more convenient: No lines, no traffic
and no risk of personal harm.
- Accessible any time: Ability to get information
and ask questions 7x24 from virtually any location that is most
convenient for the consumer.
- Private and secure: Ability to ask questions AND
get answers securely online, providing much more privacy than
allowed using the phone, which is important since a significant
amount of inquiries are made from a non-private workplace setting.
- Anonymous: Ability to quickly and easily complete
research on various personal finance issues in the comfort of
the consumer's home without facing the potential anxiety and embarrassment
caused by the fear of asking a dumb question.
- Recorded: Interactions to resolve an inquiry involving
multiple staff and/or channels are recorded and viewable, eliminating
the need for members to repeat themselves.
- Non-Threatening: Most people dislike conflict
and generally will avoid it at all costs, yet asking questions
or providing feedback online is insulated and enables consumers
to say things that they otherwise might not. Fuze (through our
MemberLink solution) consistently witnesses consumers giving companies
a chance to make amends to what they believe to be unsatisfactory
service and support, rather than just taking their business somewhere
- Fast: Most younger or more technically savvy consumers
expect to have the flexibility and speed afforded by the online
For your Credit Union:
- Reduces training costs and ensures consistency across
all channels: A DSC allows you to naturally capture your
best staff's knowledge in a digital form that can be leveraged
across all channels and among staff and members.
- Less expensive: Helping members in-person or over
the phone is expensive. Getting members to help themselves or
request support online is much more cost effective -- estimated
to be $4.00 for email and 4 cents for self service by Barton Goldenberg,
president of ISM. Furthermore, Frost & Sullivan Research estimates
the cost to have an employee answer a question at between $8 and
$30. A large contributor to this cost structures is that most
financial institutions staff their contact centers to have no
more than a 2% call abandonment rate during peak periods. Assuming
consumers expect a response online within 4-6 hours (as stated
by Jupiter Media Matrix), your staffing levels to accommodate
peak periods with 4 hours to respond is much less than what is
required to respond within the 2 minutes consumers are generally
willing to wait on hold! Click here
for more on this topic.
- Improves your understanding of your members' needs: Unlike
your other support channels, when your members use your digital
support channel you naturally record what they are asking, looking
at and setting alerts on. Without any special effort, a DSC
captures highly leveragable information about your members and
prospects for use in permission-based targeted marketing efforts
and to provide personalized support and service. Your other
support channels only provide anecdotal information that can not
realistically be leveraged.
- Increases member loyalty: Bank of America claims
that online banking customers are 50% less likely to leave their
- Accelerates online banking adoption: Financial
institutions (FIs) have spent millions of dollars developing their
online delivery channel only to see a disappointing consumer adoption
rate and poor ROI. Even the FIs that are doing relatively well
have 80%+ of their consumers not using their online channel, failing
to attract anything more than the early adopters of technology.
To get their non-early adopters to use their online channel, FIs
must provide their consumers with a way to gradually acclimate
themselves to this new channel. Interacting online via familiar
email and Web forms along with completing research online allows
consumers to gradually get comfortable with the channel, while
providing FIs with the opportunity to promote the advantages of
their online banking products and services. The end result is
an acceleration of online banking adoption rates. Click here
for more on this topic
- Targets profitable consumer groups: Online users
are affluent and their numbers are growing.