Credit union branch networks are carefully planned, from location to design to their reporting structures. Such order has been developed and maintained for decades. It was once even considered proper to dress in your Sunday best to go to a branch. Imagine that!
The times have certainly changed and so have your members’ banking habits. We have evolved into a mobile society. Now, consumers can log in from the ninth hole of a golf course or from the local mall or practically anywhere, but that does not mean they should be taken any less seriously, or that their money is any less valuable.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught in the trap of tactical to-do lists: add a mobile app, change your online banking promotion, provide some type of personal financial management tool, and then declare success.
However, without proper strategic initiatives, executive commitment and sufficient measurement, the electronic channel will falter. The electronic channel is more important than ever and so is how you address it. Your future success depends on it.
Credit unions must evaluate their electronic channels and make the move from a tactical, siloed implementation to a strategic approach. Take a lesson from the branch strategies that have been developed over the decades.
Online, voice and mobile banking have not been given equal resources and strategy, although today their value is arguably greater. Perhaps this is because of their relative infancy in the marketplace. In which case, we could learn a few lessons from the brick and mortar channel:
- Remember the mantra, “We build branches where the customers are.” Well then, build your e-channel where they are (and for the devices they are using) as well. Credit unions should know their demographics and be able to offer an array of access solutions and apps to meet mobile, tablet and online banking needs.
- A branch network that attracted roughly half of a credit union’s member base would undoubtedly be run by senior executives. That’s just common sense. So, why is it that so many institutions trust their e-channels to lower level employees? Look at your organizational chart and see who is in change of mobile and online banking; you need to make an adjustment if it’s not a higher level or C-level executive. It is just that important as the means in which consumers and businesses become more and more e-focused. Some credit unions are even creating senior positions for e-channel strategy managers – kudos!
- Set baselines for your e-channel business and continuously raise the bar. Do you know how many members have opened accounts online? How many mobile users login and how often? What are your adoption rates and what are you doing to increase adoption? Once standards are set you can determine strategic plans to promote and expand these channels appropriately.
The battle lines for members and wallet share are no longer just at the branches. Members do not need a branch on every corner, but they do require that same convenience online – anytime, anywhere and through a multitude of devices.
The self-service e-channel should not be merely viewed as a new frontier, but simply the evolution of customer service. Apply the lessons that we have learned from decades of experience in the branch, elevate your e-channel and members will notice the difference.