With the nation’s top banks facing a historic backlash from consumers frustrated over the deluge of new fees and account changes, there has never been a better time for credit unions to attract new members.
Whether it’s free checking and savings accounts, or more personalized and competitive offerings for mortgages, automotive and retail lending, 2012 will provide credit unions with many opportunities to expand their business.
However, these opportunities could pass many credit unions by because new members will expect credit unions to provide the same online and self-service conveniences they’ve grown accustomed to when working with larger banks.
To compete, credit unions need to take a close look at their current technology infrastructures and evaluate how they can quickly and efficiently make improvements and fill in any gaps.
Most credit unions’ core systems provide some online banking front-end applications. Some credit unions also have online applications for automated lending and loan processing.
Yet, surprisingly we’ve found that many applications used by credit unions are missing fundamental components that could drastically improve operations while providing improved support and services to members.
Credit unions should evaluate their technology stacks to see if they have the right foundational technology elements to meet the needs of their potential new members in 2012. Here are three areas to examine closely:
- Seamless Member Experience: Do your applications talk to one another and provide members a seamlessly integrated view of all their accounts, activities and preferences? Members are more comfortable when an online experience is consistent regardless of whether they are browsing services, applying for loans, or managing their accounts. The credit union’s differentiating mantra of doing what’s right for the member applies equally to the online channel. This places a burden on the credit union to integrate not only the look and feel of online systems, but also back-end systems. Behind the scenes, important enabling technologies range from single sign-on access across applications to Web services that cost effectively connect multiple systems
- Advanced Business Intelligence: This is the technology that does the analysis that can tell management, “who’s buying what and where.” This is how credit unions can understand what’s happening across different online systems and offline channels to determine how to best reach and market to members. Business intelligence is crucial to making sure you’re effectively serving the preferences of your new members.
- Online Authentication and Electronic Signature Services: Verifying that a new member applicant is “who he says he is” is a critical component to your account opening process. New authentication services from the leading credit bureaus are helping credit unions solve the identity challenge online, on the phone and in the branch – all with products that use secure information to authenticate the identity of new members. Electronic signatures can be combined with authentication services to help members authorize changes without having to visit a branch in-person. These capabilities help provide a win-win for credit unions and their members. They allow members to conduct business when and where they want, while helping to enable cost-effective self-service.
When it comes to making the most of the new member acquisition opportunity in 2012, the window is wide open for credit unions. Taking stock and making sure the right technology is in place can significantly improve how credit unions attract and serve their new members next year and beyond.
Andrew Montz is San Antonio and public sector general manager for Catapult Systems of Austin, Texas.