If we start with the premise that credit union members view ATMs as an asset and that they help attract and retain members as well as help credit unions remain competitive with other financial institutions, how do credit unions create an ATM strategy that is a positive and integral part of their business model?
While a variety of ATM options are available to credit unions, such as deploying their own ATMs, joining a network (or a hybrid of the two), joining multiple networks or partnering with an independent sales organization, building a bridge between the credit union's business model and their members' needs is the first step in delivering optimal ATM success. Directly addressing members' needs increases retention for credit unions. However, ATM strategies must also serve the credit union as a whole and preserve its longevity in an evolving marketplace. The ultimate question is-what mix serves a credit union and their members best?
The underlying current of all of these considerations is flexibility and customization. Therefore, the ability to pick and choose what options would most benefit a credit union and its members must be considered before implementing an ATM strategy. The right network can be a valuable partner for a credit union in this process. An honest and thorough analysis can help all parties at the table clearly understand how to achieve the highest level of flexibility. The network's ability and willingness to customize an ATM strategy for a specific credit union's member needs within its existing ATM structure should be a critical component to realizing positive results. A successful ATM strategy is extremely important to a credit union's goals and can be a significant contributor to its operating philosophies.
Flexibility can be exemplified in many ways: branding programs, geographic segmentation of ATM locations, surcharge-free access vs. nonsurcharge-free access as examples. Many other options are also available for consideration, but it is up to each individual credit union to evaluate how those options mix with member needs. Customization and flexibility are the keys to providing value to the credit union and delivering positive results to its bottom line.
Credit unions should also seek ways to implement ATM strategies that work to incorporate point-of-sale programs, which are the fastest growing dominant transaction sets and positively serve a growing number of credit unions. Strategies can be implemented that provide ATM customization and also increase POS interchange income while factoring trends in member behavior into the equation as well. The end result is a strategic mix of elements that align the needs of credit union members along with the credit union.
Today, more than ever, every business decision that a credit union makes needs to be carefully weighed. For example, the amount of individual attention and customization a network is willing to provide a credit union is a leading indicator in how a network-credit union relationship can support positive growth and attract and retain members. It is also an important principal component of a successful ATM strategy, which is beneficial at every level.
Every member a credit union can attract or retain has a significant impact on the bottom line. Credit unions must consider their options carefully, and choose their options wisely. Doing so will help establish a winning ATM strategy, build the bridge and set a path for success.
Jim Gowan is executive vice president and chief operating officer for Credit Union 24. He can be reached at 877- 570-2824 or jim.gowan@CU24.com