If you walked up to the front of your branch to discover peeling paint, trash on the ground, and fingerprints all over the door and windows-what would you do? Start calling managers on your cell phone? Ask the entire staff to come out in the parking lot and look at the branch through the members' eyes?
So, how do feel when you open your web home page? Do you find a fresh, simple-to-use, welcoming way to access your credit union's products and services? Or does your home page look like someone wearing a baby blue polyester leisure suit to an important meeting?
Think about this. I personally know CEOs whose websites have been down for several days before anyone in headquarters found out about it. How did they find out? Usually when members told them. That's like finding out your employees locked the door and took off in the middle of the work day.
If you think the web page is just a side thing-like putting out a stack of brochures-you haven't been paying attention. That web page is a branch, and sooner or later it may become the most important branch you have (if it hasn't already.) Your web branch is open 24/7, accessible worldwide, and more convenient than any location you could ever build on. Even better, it's more convenient than any location any competing bank or credit union could build on.
You wouldn't let your branch sit for a decade without a coat of paint. So why would you let your website fall behind? It's not just a design issue. You can find credit union sites with outdated logo treatments, incomplete information on products and services, plus data that is just plain wrong. Most common is broken URL links. Your website is one of the most important ways your brand is represented to your members and prospective members.
Here are some things to think about. If your web page is basically a print brochure online, it needs to go. Current websites take advantage of the way the web lets you build a relationship with members. This is your chance to give them relaxed, efficient, one-on- one service with no lines, no traffic, at any time they want it.
Build your website to make information crisp and visually appealing, supported by technology that is easy and intuitive to use. Your technology must be current and reliable. You wouldn't build a branch in the wrong neighborhood to save money. Don't go cheap on your website.
If you thought your members loved it when you called them by name as they walked in door, wait until you talk with a satisfied web member who just paid her bills, transferred money into savings, and applied for a car loan while sitting on her own couch at midnight. Now that's service.
Take a deep breath, log on, and visit your web branch. Then do what it takes to build your brand.
Paul Lucas is a marketing and branding consultant specializing in CUs. For info: www.pauljlucas.com.