Implementing E-Tactics Goes Way Beyond E-Technology (Part 2)
This is the second in a series of articles dealing with the challenges credit unions face in implementing and maximizing their ''e'' delivery channel. In Part 1 the author introduced the concept that implementing e-strategies is more than just buying a new gadget or adding a new service. Click here to read the first article in this series.
Right now nothing is more in style than adding e-statement and e-marketing capabilities to credit union e-channels. And for good reason. Postal rates continue to climb, privacy issues are making members more aware of the risk they take when private information is mailed to them, and paper statements are considered almost a nuisance by members who do not read them, want to store them, or diligently verify their credit union activity.
But what penetration is your credit union looking for from its e-statement investment? Will your e-marketing results compare favorably with other marketing programs? What is the expected result from these changes? It's not about the product you pick; it's about how you implement the solution and how you conceptually sell the member on its value that will give you the results you are looking for. Once again, some members will jump in based on their belief in simply doing everything over the 'Net. But what is the long-term value of the product, and can you convince others to use it?
It all begins with securing email addresses. But it might not be that easy. Which credit union database will store the email addresses? Is this database easily accessed by the statement provider? By your e-marketing department? By your staff? Can members directly update their email addresses at any time? Or will your staff have to key in the changes? Can members easily change their email addresses in your other delivery channels (lobby, drive-up, etc.)? Does the software you use to collect email addresses effectively edit so that ''garbage'' data is not being stored? All of these questions need to be answered prior to selecting a product or vendor. Have you talked with your CIO or IT department to determine the long-term management of this key data?
Besides the process of getting email addresses into a usable format, how do you convince members to even give you their email address? Are they concerned about how you will use the address? Do members who do not see the current value in e-statements and e-marketing have any reason to give you their email address for the future?
Some credit unions are beginning to understand that they will have to ''buy'' these addresses. By buy, I do not mean go out and buy a list from a marketing firm like you would for a neighborhood direct mail project. Rather, the credit union will have to invest both resources and time to this effort for these new services to be a success. For example, you might need to hold contests where each member who gives an email address has the chance to win, or offer promotional rates or discounts to members who participate in an email campaign. What will your credit union do to build its potential market for these products from within your current credit union membership? How long before e-statements and e-marketing have a real chance to be a strategic and core credit union tool?
After you have the email address and a potential audience for your e-statements and e-marketing efforts, there are still many questions that must be answered. How will you get members to sign up for e-statements? Through contests? Direct mailings? E-mailings? Will opting in for e-statements automatically mean the member will no longer get a paper statement? If you are not mailing a paper
statement, how will members get your other newsletters and marketing inserts? Will you deliver e-statements monthly or just archive e-statements to give the member a new storage tool? Are e-statements the best way for members to reconcile their accounts? Many credit unions are using interactive transaction analysis tools now as a substitute for statements.
E-marketing efforts will require the same planning. If your email database is not easily accessible for inquiry and data selection tasks, how will the marketing department effectively build email contact lists for specific products? What do members believe are valid reasons to contact them via email? How do we avoid becoming a nuisance or ''spam'' source in the eyes of our membership? Can these efforts more effectively reach a proactive set of our member market?
In the end, the credit union's entire team must be ready to work together toward the success of both these products. Have you worked with the member service team so that they will promote the e-channel as the credit union's most effective account reconciliation tool? Will the credit union change its service fees so that members who ask for statement copies will be encouraged to receive their statements via the Internet instead? Is the traditional marketer ready to promote email marketing with the same level of content as other marketing programs?
As a full service data processing and home banking solution provider, WESCO deals with the issues of implementing e-strategies for credit unions every day. If you would like more information about how WESCO answers the important questions raised in this series of articles, please contact Randy Karnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Scott Page (email@example.com). We are also interested in your ideas and comments