Happier Hours For Happier Members

New technology at Pioneer FCU offers two ways members can bank on their own time.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • Personal teller machines and a stand-alone app offer longer hours and better off-lobby services to members.
  • The credit union has dedicated marketing campaigns to make members aware of the new hours and capabilities.

For Pioneer Federal Credit Union ($449.5M, Mountain Home, ID) serving members how they want to be served is something to celebrate.

The credit union introduced interactive teller machines in 2015 and now operates them at each of its drive-up windows and in the lobby of one branch location. The ITMs are one part of an ongoing effort for the credit union to promote member service that goes above and beyond, says Elizabeth Thomas, vice president of marketing and development at Pioneer.

Another aspect is Pioneer’s stand-alone myPioneer Personal Assistant app. The app, which the credit union launched in January of 2018, allows members to have real-time, face-to-face conversations with a live credit union employee who can process any request short of one involving cash. Pioneer anticipated usage to skew heavily toward its millennial members, those most accustomed to remote, mobile conversations. ContentMiddleAd

Members enter their request on the app, it enters our queue, and someone on our team answers with a FaceTime call, Thomas says.

The machines and app are both staffed by the same eight-person team at Pioneer. Today, one person on that team handles more monthly transactions than at any one of the credit union’s 14 branches. Instead of pocketing all its savings from new technologies, though, Pioneer has extended its operating hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, a move that has made inroads with more than just millennials, including people who need those extra hours or assistance, such as mothers, the elderly, and construction workers, just to name a few.


Pioneer FCU
Data as of 03.31.18

HQ: Mountain Home, ID
ASSETS: $449.5M
MEMBERS: 53,129
ROA: 0.37%

The other day we had a member call in to say thank you’ for the app, Thomas says. Previously, he had to schedule one of his children to drive him to the credit union to do his banking. Now, he can call from his house. He told us we gave him his freedom in banking back.

Pioneer Happily Goes There

To make people aware of the nontraditional banking hours and the capabilities of its new technology, Pioneer rolled out its Happier Hours marketing campaign in April 2017.

It was a play on Happy Hour, says Elizabeth Thomas, vice president of marketing and development at Pioneer. People are used to getting more bang for their buck during Happy Hour, and we’re giving them that by serving them before or after work or on Saturday night.

The campaign included billboards, TV, and radio spots, among other forms of media, and served to drive awareness of the credit union’s PTM machines and extended hours. While finding a return on the messaging proves difficult, Thomas says the credit union saw a significant uptick in its service scores on its quarterly NPS reports.

Members gave us incredible scores for flexibility, Thomas says. We met a need.

Then, in February of 2018, Pioneer used the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games as a launching pad to shift its marketing message.

The Olympics has the highest viewership of any television program in Idaho, especially the Winter Olympics, Thomas says. It draws a lot of people.

With its We Go There campaign which includes TV, radio, Pandora, print, and social media Pioneer shows how the credit union helps its members plan for all of life’s financial challenges, big or small, from opening a college savings account to answering member questions before or after traditional banking hours.

Click through to see the three video spots Pioneer FCU used for its We Go There marketing campaign.

Saving For College

Pioneer’s We Go There ad concepts include a member talking with a Pioneer employee about saving for college. Click to watch.

Obtaining Credit

Another We Go There ad concept shows a Pioneer member bemoaning the difficulties of obtaining credit without already having credit. Click to watch.

Taking Out Money At Non-Traditional Times

Forget to pack a lunch and need to send money with the kids? No problem, suggests Pioneer in one of its We Go There ad concepts. Sometimes you just need to talk to a real person, the member says. Click to watch.

Finding Flexibility In Banking

Pioneer members have responded to the We Go There ad campaign in ways both expected and not.

In the past few months, the credit union has fielded a fast-growing number of FaceTime calls through its app. According to Thomas, Pioneer fielded 78 app calls in February, the first full month for which data is available. That number has increased with each month, and in May, the latest month for which data is available, the credit union fielded 339 calls.

The ads draw attention, Thomas says. People have questions, see they can FaceTime their credit union, and want to try that experience.

The curiosity of local celebrities has helped fuel usage, too. For example, a local DJ was doing a remote broadcast at a Pioneer branch event when he struck up a conversation with an employee. He wanted to learn more about what a credit union was, how it was different from a bank, and how he would go about opening an account. When the credit union representative mentioned he could open an account through the app, he went for it. Live on the radio.

That was cool to see, Thomas says.

The We Go There campaign is set to run through to the end of 2018. At that time, Pioneer will re-evaluate the landscape before deciding whether to extend the campaign. For now, the credit union is happy with the campaign’s results and even more happy it was able to introduce flexible, any-time banking to a membership that was missing it.

We want to serve our members in whatever way works best for them, Thomas says. Whether they always or never want to come to a branch, we’re giving them more flexibility in their schedule. We’re not dictating when they have to do their transactions.


July 26, 2018

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