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The Key To Serving Today’s Members

Personalized service delivered on digital channels is within reach. Fintechs can be friends, not foes, in that journey.

It’s a double-edged sword: We love the ease and convenience provided by companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, but they set a high bar for us. When consumers shift their attention from one of these services to yours, they expect the same experience.

That’s why we can never rest on our laurels and say, We offer good service, so why change? The comfortable status quo can be an enemy if we aren’t careful. The simple, integrated, and personal interaction that consumers enjoy today is part of the modern member experience. This is the key that makes credit unions relevant. Technology makes it possible, and it starts with the core platform.

What we might call the technology of simplicity is what’s needed. To the member, it’s a seamless experience across channels; for the credit union, it’s using an open, flexible core platform as a foundation. If there’s any doubt about how crucial it is to stay up-to-date, look at this telling fact from Callahan Associates’ Trendwatch 2Q 2018: 1.4 million new members found not-for-profit financial cooperatives an attractive banking partner in the second quarter of 2018.

More people than ever are looking at credit unions. The same report also found member usage is growing by 2.9% year over year, mostly due to an increase in average loan balance.


You want to capture your share of these people as many as you can get. New members are looking for that modern member experience in every interaction with you including in a digital environment. That’s what you need to attract, serve, and retain today’s member.

Digital Becoming Personal

Let’s take a closer look at this member experience. Today’s credit union members value online financial relationships but still demand service with a personal touch. When considering a new service or product these days, credit unions must always consider it in terms of how it will improve member relationships. Credit unions must bridge that tricky balance between an impersonal device and a warm partner relationship as best as they can. Fortunately, technology is beginning to offer answers.

What’s personal and digital at the same time? Voice-driven banking provides a simple, natural way of doing business. Amazon’s Alexa can temporarily become the voice of your credit union. Another example is targeted digital marketing that sends messages and suggestions based on an individual member’s activities. Other personalized digital solutions are personal financial management, guides for life milestones, and customizable expense tracking options.

Don’t forget social media, which is still very important. Your brand your integrity, humor, community service, and whatever else you are most proud of is carried far and wide to both members and prospects by social media. People make decisions based on your social presence. A recent article in Credit Union Times confirms this: According to J.D. Power, 38% of direct bank customers who opened a new product in the past 12 months said they were influenced by social media to open the new product.

Keep your social communications active, and make them smart, engaging, clear, and personal. Use this opportunity to humanize your organization and community by highlighting members, employees, and the good you do in your neighborhood.

Another part of the new member experience is a unified look and feel across all channels. This is enabled by your technological framework. The core platform allows you to break down barriers between different applications and data sources and makes all relevant information, functions, and transactions readily accessible. Your members get enhanced convenience and self-sufficiency. In return, you get loyalty.

It’s critically important to make the mobile and online branch a friendly and productive place to visit. Travis Frey, chief innovation officer at Dover Federal Credit Union, says this: The next generation of banking is on the very near horizon, and financial institutions must shift their business models to create a branch experience around where the member needs to be. The right system has to be at the core of this change.

Don’t Fear The Fintech

One way to enhance member experience is to partner with fintechs. Instead of being wary of these companies, consider that your credit union might be an attractive business partner for them. You have a loyal member base, and achieving that is a challenge for many tech companies. There’s no reason you can’t collaborate for mutual success.

For example, Technology Credit Union partners with a fintech called Happy Money that helps members pay off credit card debt. Arizona Federal Credit Union uses several fintech partners to provide the best possible member experience. Examples include OnDot Systems for payment card control, CUneXus for digital preapproved loan offers, BOLTS Technology (just acquired by Jack Henry) for digital account opening, and MX Technologies (through NCR) for personal financial management.

Some other opportunities for fintech collaboration are video banking, virtual AI assistants and advisors, and tracking and analysis of member behavior. All of these can contribute to creating personal experiences across channels.

Where You Want To Be

To stay relevant and serve today’s member, your credit union needs options. You need the freedom to create new member opportunities, the ability to move where you want to move, and the capability to change and adapt with the times. That includes the option of partnering with not only a fintech but also a wide choice of reliable solutions pre-integrated with your core. You need the ability to integrate any number of third-party products with minimal trouble. In other words, a core system ought to scale alongside your business.

A modern experience also requires the ability to customize the way the platform operates to fit your purposes. If you try to add new services to a core that’s limited and not customizable, you can end up with disjointed, clumsy member and staff processes.

Progressive credit unions are moving to provide the all-important modern member experience a personal, consistent experience across your entire platform. What are you doing to meet the demands of a modern membership?

Ted Bilke joined Symitar in 2005 with more than 20 years of technology and financial services experience. He began his career with EDS, where he worked for 12 years. After EDS, he served as director of LAN management services for MCI Systemhouse, vice president of integration services for Bell Howell, COO for Ascendant Solutions, and vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Operations. He holds a BSBA degree with a double-major in finance and marketing from Missouri Southern State University. Bilke joined Symitar as the general manager of Episys Operations and Development and was appointed president five years later. In 2018, he was appointed Vice President of Jack Henry Associates, Inc.

Symitar, a division of Jack Henry Associates (NASDAQ: JKHY), is the leading provider of integrated computer systems for credit unions of all sizes. Symitar has been selected as the primary technology partner by more than 800 credit unions, serving as a single source for integrated, enterprise-wide automation and as a single point of contact and support. Additional information is available at www.symitar.com.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
December 3, 2018

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