'You Know What They Say About First Impressions ...'
It’s been more than half a year since Bank Transfer Day, and we are still feeling the effects of that blockbuster day. Amazingly, it’s still in the news – and not just the industry trades. It continues to permeate the mainstream media, declaring hundreds of thousands more consumers flocking to credit unions because of their growing distaste for banks. Kudos goes to credit unions for stepping up and to the media for covering this trend that provides consumers with more options.
With this semi-mass exodus from banks to credit unions continuing, how is your organization handling the prospective influx of member newbies? In this case, first impressions are crucial to attracting and retaining new members. Much of the time these lost souls are coming from a slick online experience that’s hard to beat in the financial services world because of the amount of R&D funding behind it. So what is your credit union doing to create a magnetic first impression? Can it meet or beat what a big-time bank has to offer?
Obviously, the very first impression a consumer encounters in today’s increasingly online world is a company’s website. The look and feel of your credit union’s website is important to exhibit a professional, yet friendly, image that’s easy to navigate. But just about all credit unions have graduated to this look by now being on their third, fourth, or fifth website rendition. Once the consumer is hooked with your look – and most definitely your rates and product offerings – it’s vital to offer a slick and quick new membership account opening process. This quantifiable first impression is key because if you’re stuck with a confusing, cumbersome, and questionable online member enrollment process, chances are the throngs of Bank Transfer Day acolytes may meander somewhere else.
To make matters more complicated, there is a whole new breed of financial service offers focused on consumers who are struggling with traditional banking. These “we-are-not-really-a-bank” banks (a.k.a. Simple.com and Movenbank.com) are trying to make banking very, very simple and easy. Call it the Goldilocks syndrome, which affects all industries (and financial institutions are no different): that one offers too little, that one too much, but this one’s just right. Credit unions could be the “just right” option and that’s where having an easy online account opening process can initiate a deep member relationship.
To kick off this new relationship, you need to balance simplicity and ease with ensuring completeness and consistency. It also has to be easy on your staff for quick processing on the backend. Credit unions need to work hard creating account-opening solutions that specifically address these challenges – especially when so many consumers are looking for change. A smooth online account opening process can be the difference between a deal maker and a deal breaker. Set yourself up to win.
There are many online account-opening solutions, but how many of them are really designed to give your credit union control over the new membership and account opening processes? This “control” includes helping you determine how and what information you want to collect and how to set up a decision matrix that incorporates information from credit bureau, fraud, and OFAC checks to give you a predictable and efficient process.
In addition, your enrollment and account opening solutions should support new membership or account applications regardless of where they come from: online, in the branch, the call center, or in the mail – and, as we know, everything is headed toward smartphones and tablets. The general idea here is to provide credit unions with a platform that allows you to open your memberships and accounts the same way throughout the organization. Consistency is key.
Speed and accessibility are crucial, as well. The online processes are more efficient and faster for everybody; hence, they cost less to operate. Increased accessibility not only is inviting to prospects, but it allows you to conduct business even when your doors are not open. Very empowering to those who want it.
Ultimately, marketing (website, awareness, presence) gets the consumer into the batter's box. What the account opening process does is make it easy to hit a home run. In other words, if the enrollment process is frustrating, there is probably a 100% chance that person won't be a member – and that sure is important when so many are looking for something new.
Bank Transfer Day, or some semblance of it, could raise its “fight-for-better-financial-services” banner again this year – which may spark another consumer movement toward credit unions. If this is the case, don’t turn prospective consumers away with a cumbersome online enrollment process. Make sure your account opening and enrollment process is smart, fast, and accurate that ultimately leaves a positive first impression for a long-lasting relationship.