Banks generate precious revenues by utilizing call centers that are able to help customers with questions and concerns, while functioning as a means to market and cross-sell. Unfortunately, credit unions tend to lack these call centers due to their smaller sizes, limiting them to websites and face-to-face interaction as a means of member contact.
As a result, credit unions must be extremely proactive if they want to survive in this competitive landscape. They must utilize the technology necessary to level the playing field, helping them to better understand the needs of members, identify solutions to their problems and even walk them through the selling process.
Understanding The Needs Of The Member
There is no doubt that understanding the needs of the member is pivotal to the success of a cross-selling campaign. But how are you going to learn their needs when your contact with them is limited? You must put a system in place that allows you to make the most out of every interaction you have with members-whether it is over the Internet or in person.
Technology analyzes key information to give you precious insight into members' financial circumstances without having to probe for personal information that, in many cases, they are not comfortable revealing-especially after hearing all kinds of tales about fraudulent use of consumer information.
Technology systems also have the ability to save gathered information in an enterprise-wide system that follows the customer to each future interaction. This saves lots of frustration by ensuring that members aren't constantly offered the same products repetitiously. Furthermore, life is made a lot easier for institutions and their associates by enabling them to develop personal bonds with each customer that encourages repeat business. Instead of an annoying sales pitch, each interaction with a member turns into a consultation.
Offer The Right Products
Besides developing an understanding of the member's needs, technology can automatically indicate specific products that will best suit them. For example, during an interaction, if an associate is able to see that a member recently took out an automobile loan, he or she can seize the opportunity by offering auto insurance that may be available through the lender or one of its subsidiaries. According to Boston-based Yankee Group, a research and consulting firm that focuses on Internet, technology, and enterprise applications, consumers that receive such targeted offers are six times more likely to buy.
Not only will this increase revenue for credit unions, it will increase customer retention by selling additional products that increase members' dependence on the institution. Research shows that the more products and services a member purchases, the less likely they are to take their accounts elsewhere.
Offering the right products will help perpetuate an understanding between the credit union and its membership by demonstrating its attentiveness to the needs of the each person; showing that they are not simply throwing offers at members to see what sticks.
As if analyzing member information to determine the most appropriate products to offer isn't enough, technology can take credit unions one step further and guide associates through the selling process.
Once the platform identifies suitable products that would be of use to the member, the information is delivered to the associate along with a variety of scripts, talking points, etc. to use in their presentation.
Besides being available to associates of an institution during face-to-face interaction with members, information can be delivered to members through other channels such as the Internet. Again, this is a valuable feature since a credit union's contact with its members is relatively low. Having automatically generated scripts and talking points to follow gives associates the boost they need to sell-making the most out of every member interaction.
Credit Unions Rely On Cross Sales
CUs rely heavily on the revenue and member retention generated from cross-selling initiatives. However, they are at an automatic disadvantage because they lack the lucrative call centers most banks have. In order to successfully protect and grow their memberships, credit unions should look to implement the necessary technology to more effectively compete with banks in this regard. A number of software as a service (SaaS) options are available that are aligned with most credit unions' budgets. These web-hosted services allow small to mid-sized organizations to securely utilize technology with a minimum capital investment that carries a wealthy return on investment.
This will give credit unions the competitive advantage of a preexisting customer relationship-giving members the "personal touch" that keeps them coming back to the institution.
Steve Phillips is COO of XSell in Jacksonville, Fla.