New Year’s Resolution: Build A Better Member Onboarding Program

BECU used member insights to rebuild its onboarding process, acclimating members to the credit union in one-third of the time.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • With more than 1 million members, BECU needs to ensure incoming members understand the cooperative model.
  • Using member surveys, feedback, and social media, the nation ‘s fourth-largest credit union rebuilt its onboarding process.


Data as of 09.30.18

HQ: Tukwila, WA
ASSETS: $18.8B
MEMBERS: 1,147,090
ROA: 1.43%

Successful onboarding requires two chief ingredients, says Stacey Collins, director of experience design at BECU ($18.8B, Tukwila, WA): Good content and good timing.

Members typically join the credit union for a specific reason but are often unaware of the full scope of its offerings. Onboarding ideally educates members about products and services as well as underscores the value of these offerings. To do that well, the credit union must present members with the messages they need, when they need them. So, BECU created more personalized messages and rethought its onboarding schedule altogether.

Onboarding In One-Third Time

In late 2016, BECU crossed an important threshold: 1 million members. In the years since, membership at the nation ‘s fourth-largest credit union has grown at a faster pace than other credit unions with assets greater than $1 billion. It ‘s this membership growth that spurred BECU in 2017 to review its onboarding processes.

We ‘ve been growing at a nice clip, Collins says. To ensure our newest members understand our model, we ‘ve dug into the data and worked to refine our onboarding process.

Pre-2017, the credit union sent introductory and product-specific messages on a 90-day schedule starting the day a member joined. That included messages about accounts, funds availability, and the credit union difference. However, more recent data suggested a different timeline and changed the way BECU onboards.


The data we had at that time indicated we had about 90 days to fully onboard a member, Collins says. Now we know members need this information within the first 30 days.

Using insights gleaned from its data warehouse, as well as contact center data, member surveys, and social media, BECU identified specific, significant markers such as enrolling in e-statements and using the BECU debit card in the member onboarding journey. Realizing members were meeting these markers earlier in the 90-day process encouraged BECU to shorten its onboarding process entirely.

BECU tailored its new onboarding to Carmen, a 29-year-old affluent millennial, before adding layers of content complexity and creative.

A New Member Onboarding

Leveraging the success of new member onboarding in their financial centers, BECU saw the potential to replicate the high-touch experience for members who join online. In speaking with members, BECU identified four products and services whose usage tended to signify an engaged member: e-statements, debit cards, BECU mobile app, and BECU checking accounts. The credit union concluded, then, that an onboarding process should encourage members to adopt these products and services.

Today, when a member joins BECU known internally as Day 0 they receive the same the same introductory message welcoming them to the credit union. And the credit union ‘s now-45-day onboarding schedule begins.

Onboarding Today, Progress Updates Tomorrow

BECU sends new member onboarding messages via email but will eventually send them through its mobile app. The credit union also is looking to apply parts of its new onboarding plan to existing members with the goal of engaging them in ways both simple progress updates on loan applications and complex showing progress toward a life goals, such as saving for college or buying a home.

It gives them an overview of what it means to do your everyday banking with BECU, Collins says. How to access money, make deposits, manage accounts, and find the closest ATM or financial center.

From there, BECU ‘s email messaging branches out based on behavior. On its onboarding schedule, BECU sends messages to new members on days one, five, 10, 21, 25, and 45. Whereas the initial Welcome to BECU message has a single version, the Day 1 and Day 5 communications, which address next steps and access limits, respectively, have six between them. Further down the timeline, BECU ‘s Day 10 and Day 21 messages each have 15 versions. As the credit union learns more about each member, it builds more messages to better personalize communication.

On Day 10, members can see just how far along the path they are to membership success.

Day 10 is an important milestone for new members, who receive a message that includes a graphic showing their membership progress. The pie chart highlights which of the four key products and services new members have adopted. Day 10 is important for BECU, too.

By Day 10, according to Collins, some 11% of new members have opted into all four products and services, 18% have opted into three, and 30% have opted into two. Put another way, within 10 days, nearly 60% of members are halfway to meeting BECU ‘s definition of an engaged member, whereas just 14% have opted into nothing at all. That Day 10 message shows members where they are in their BECU journey, but it also provides an essential reminder for some to do more.

We received member feedback that said how much they valued having that visible progress to help them keep track of what they had done and what they had to do, Collins says.

During the rollout, BECU heard often from its members, allowing the credit union to learn what was mdash’ and wasn’t working in the onboarding process.

On Day 21, BECU sends another progress reminder. Four days later, members receive an invite to attend a financial health check seminar. And on Day 45, members receive another invitation, this time to apply to a BECU VISA card.

And this is just the beginning.

Collins underscores that BECU used member feedback direct and behavior to inform this onboarding process, and it will continue to alter the process as it analyzes data with the help of BECU ‘s business intelligence team and machine learning technology Amplero.

As we get smarter with what we learn from this, our messages will continue to evolve to match what our members are looking for, Collins says. We ‘ll have a better sense of where we are hitting the mark and where we can make enhancements.

The endgame, Collins says, is to create a new member onboarding experience that feels personalized for every member. That ‘s where the power of machine learning comes into play at BECU, but she recognizes that technology is not a solution for every credit union especially smaller shops. To Collins, it ‘s about doing what you can with what you have.

Everyone has a budget, she says. Don ‘t think that you ‘ll never have enough money or enough data to be able to compete. Take a step back and look at what you have and how you can use it to accomplish what you really need: Good timing and good content.


December 31, 2018

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