According to a Forrester survey, only 24% of bank account holders have given up paper statements, and 37% of those who haven’t say they never will. This creates a conundrum for financial institutions that are striving for cost efficiency. How do you present the value of a cost-saving service without going broke marketing it?
One advantage credit unions have over their for-profit peers is the power of collaboration. Isabella Community Credit Union ($77.8M, Mt. Pleasant, MI) more than doubled its members' eSstatement usage by participating in its CUSO's cooperative eStatement contest, which helped the credit union bump eStatement participation from 10% to 22% in just two months.
The credit union introduced eStatements nearly five years ago because of member demand and cost savings, says Heather Harris, vice president of community development and marketing. Although members showed interest in the product, the credit union struggled with low utilization for a number of years.
Quarterly statements cost the credit union approximately $5. Add to this the printed newsletters and stuffers that go along with the statements and the total cost is $8-10 per year, per member, Harris says. Member education and eStatement marketing reduces that expenditure to as low as $6 a year.
The credit union traditionally promoted the service three times a year, but recently there have been limits on available resources.
“With economic concerns, our marketing budget had been cut nearly in half,” Harris says. “But the cooperative nature of the program allowed a credit union our size to participate [in the CUSO contest] and still be competitive with larger institutions."
For the CUSO eStatement contest, 60 credit unions ordered statement inserts and other CUSO marketing materials. The more the credit unions ordered, the lower the cost was for each marketing piece. Costs dipped as low as .015 cents. The credit union secured low-cost marketing and one of its members won the eStatement contest prize (a Nintendo Wii) as a result of enrollment.
The credit union was initially hesitant to use a prized-based system; however, it worked so successfully in the competition the credit union will likely continue with promotions throughout 2011. “The tag-team approach, combined with cool prizes, tipped the scales,” Harris says.
Electronic statements are just one aspect of a larger holistic campaign to drive online service adoption at ICCU.
“Nearly one-third of our members use eServices and the goal is to reach 50% by 2012,” says Harris. “Seventeen percent of members use bill pay and almost half (47%) use account online access.”
The credit union also rolled out eAlerts and mobile access in October, with 500 members using each of the services so far, Harris says. Credit union employees will reach out and educate members to bolster usage in the days ahead.
“You know those bank commercials where the customer gets an email while on a mountain when their balances drop below $200,” says Harris. “I repeatedly teach our staff, we have that, too, at ICCU, and it’s free to our members.”