Survey: Members Want to Conduct Business at Branch

Despite online convenience and advancements, credit union members still prefer to conduct business at a local branch, but they expect knowledgeable, highly-personalized service when they visit, according to a survey.

Boston based customer engagement firm TimeTrade’s “The State of Credit Unions 2017” survey of 2,000 consumers gauged member feelings on the quality of service they receive from their institutions. The survey found nearly half of respondents (46%) visited a credit union branch once a month or more, with another 25% visiting at least five times during the past year.

The survey revealed while it’s no longer necessary to visit a branch for many transactions, in-person banking at credit unions isn’t going away. Instead, it’s becoming more important and more specialized, and, as a result, member service experiences, which branches provides, is increasingly vital to a credit union’s success. “In fact, during the next 10 years, banking will become much more human again— emphasizing personal relationships and local connectedness, for which credit unions are deservedly well known.”

Ranking the quality of service members receive at their credit union on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best), 45% of respondents rated their credit union a 5, while another 39% gave their institution a 4. Those figures outpace the results of the bank customers survey, where only 33% rated their bank a 5.

Credit unions continue to do a good job of providing members with a personalized experience. Seventy-eight percent of respondents feel they have a personalized in-branch experience, compared with just 71% of bank customers. Another 62% said that when they meet with a credit union representative, that employee is always knowledgeable and able to help them.

“Credit unions—like banks—face increasing pressure to provide the exceptional, personalized service that consumers demand,” Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade said. “Fortunately for credit unions, their member-centric operating focus keeps them well-positioned with their target market. In the years to come, branches will be just one of the possible places for face-to-face meetings to conduct important financial business. This will enable credit unions to take advantage of their personalized, local relationships, which will be difficult for national bank brands to match.”

Credit unions can continue to guarantee the right employees are available to serve customers who want to discuss mortgages, loans, retirement planning and other important matters by offering them an easy way to schedule appointments with subject-matter experts, at a date, time and location of the members’ choosing.

Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said, for example, they would prefer to schedule an appointment with a mortgage specialist instead of going to a branch and waiting for someone to help them. Almost half of respondents said they would choose a credit union specifically because it offered the ability to schedule appointments at a convenient time and location. And 34% said they would be much more likely to visit a branch if they could make an appointment for a day and time most convenient for them.

And while they do take advantage of online banking options, credit union members have clear opinions about other new technologies. They are less enthusiastic about dealing with robo advisors or chatbots in place of knowledgeable human branch representatives. Sixty-six prevent of respondents said they want to interact with people, not machines, at their branch.

National survey firm SSI conducted the survey for TimeTrade between April 21 and April 25, 2017, asking in-depth questions about consumer perceptions and behaviors around banking and credit unions. 

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