Leveraging Retail Trends to Stay Out Front
Staying ahead of competitive threats is as old as the credit union movement, but perhaps chief among these threats and the most perennial is to be perceived by consumers as less relevant than your competitors.
Today the expectations of credit union members are being driven by the dramatic changes in their retail experiences. Credit unions aren’t retailers. But consumer experiences with retail are reshaping how your members want to interact with you – and credit unions must change with them. There are at least three trends driving the evolution in consumer expectations.
Omnichannel shopping. Shopping has moved from a be-all, end-all store to a wide variety of channels, including online, mail order and mobile-commerce. According to Google, 67% of consumers regularly start shopping on one device, then move to another. Ominchannel shopping may seem futuristic, but it’s happening now.
Consumers are changing, too. They can do business wherever they want – in the store, on their smartphones, online at home, from you, from your competitors. They are empowered.
Self-service means great service. Your members are having every kind of experience on every kind of self-directed channel. When a credit union enables them to serve themselves, it doesn’t feel like a lower-grade alternative. It actually feels like more service.
Yet, people still want branches including millennials. A recent survey by the Houston Business Journal of 600 young Texans found that more than half visit a branch at least once per month. Young people under 30 want to open their accounts in a branch. Why? People are only comfortable buying online or by mobile when they feel like they know enough about the product and young people opening their first accounts don’t feel comfortable without a face-to-face.
Trust. The comfort level consumers seek boils down to trust. Trust is trendy. Here are some questions to determine institutional trustworthiness:
Are your systems secure? Your fraud prevention and detection tools and processes need to be state-of-the-art. Are your motives member-first? Credit unions have historically enjoyed deeper affinity with members compared to banks and their customers. Rewards programs and portfolio analytics tools can help you maximize affinity. Communicate your member-first mindset; younger consumers in particular, are values conscious.
Are your capabilities current? They need to be or you will quickly become irrelevant. Consumers want the latest access and convenience technology. Offering a digital wallet with person-to-person, real-time good-funds transfer capabilities is one strong way for credit unions to stay relevant in the face of rapidly-evolving payments technology.
Considering the changing expectations of members based on their retail experiences, the changes a credit union needs to make to remain competitive boil down to four things: Do you have the tools to keep you current? Do you have the industry partners to help provide you with the latest technology?
Will your systems evolve easily as times demand? Is your leadership keeping the engine running forward?
Caroline Willard is executive vice president, markets and strategy, for CO-OP Financial Services. She can be reached at 800-782-9042 ext. 5934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.