Meet The Multi-Channel Challenge

The ability to successfully implement a multi-channel marketing communication strategy will most likely be the single biggest challenge-and opportunity-for credit unions over the next few years.

Meeting member needs effectively revolves around having access to the information they want-and how they require it-morning, noon, or night via print, electronic, the web, and mobile devices. Today's most successful credit unions have a carefully planned member communications management strategy that answers these requirements. Most importantly, they have chosen the robust technology required to make it happen.

Seeking The Right Solutions

Leveraging the power of multi-channel campaigns requires having the ability to determine the communication preferences of each member and the solutions in place to deliver compelling content through that channel. Whether your member likes paper, electronic, mobile devices, or a combination of these channels, being able to meet member delivery preferences is quickly becoming an expectation rather than an option.

One of the first decisions to be made is whether you will do this in-house or via outsourcing. Many credit unions already use third-party service providers to print and mail statements and other customer communications. It is critically important to closely evaluate your vendor partner's capabilities to ensure they can meet your client communication needs in the areas of agility, flexibility, and control. With statements being the central communication vehicle with members, employing "agile billing"-the ability to maintain flexibility and control of your documents while enjoying the cost benefits of outsourcing physical printing and fulfillment-is simply good business.

Meaningful communications are the lifeline between credit unions and their member. There are software solutions available that address a multi-channel, personalized communication strategy and are user-friendly enough to provide the flexibility needed to allow business users to create interactive, point-of-need, personalized documents for members in-house, while ensuring that that costs are controlled through centralized production and fulfillment. It pays to do research, because not every solution offers all of the capabilities.

More Effective Communications

Just as important as communicating with your members through multiple channels is ensuring you provide easy-to-understand statements and other communications when doing so. Tailoring communications to specific preferences will reduce member calls and build trust. For example, if a member has a profile that suggests they may be interested in converting to a new retirement plan, your communication solution should have the ability to personalize their next statement with info highlighting the options available.

Overcoming Associated Challenges

As with any communication management initiative, there are challenges when integrating multi-channel communications within current architecture. Here are the four most common:

1. Obtaining quality data
Data is often stored in disjointed silos across the enterprise and it can be a challenge to obtain and consolidate useful data on your members. Be sure you can tap into your broad range of data sources, and that the solution makes it easy to merge and consolidate this data.

2. Integrating all delivery channels
The next consideration is ensuring the ability to coordinate and integrate communications across all channels. For instance, the ability for the next statement run to take advantage of member feedback obtained through an e-channel is a critical aspect of a successful multi-channel framework.

3. Designing for multiple channels
The content that you deliver to a member on their printed statement may be in a completely different format and layout than the content you would deliver to that same member via a different channel. Because of this, another critical success factor for a multi-channel communication solution is creating flexible content that automatically changes to match the delivery channel. Without this kind of flexibility, designing for multiple channels can become a painful and complex process.

Efficiently Managing Multiple Channels

Managing content, logic, users and roles, interfaces, and change control practices for a multi-channel solution can seem like a daunting task. Another key step is providing an integrated framework that can leverage these critical data across the entire solution. For instance, user roles and permissions should be honored anywhere in the framework. Additionally, the ability to manage content-independent of the documents and channels that receive them-is crucial. Be sure your solution has these management capabilities, or you may overwhelm your organization with process and content complexities.

Organizational commitment, accountability, and having the right technology in place for managing members across all media channels is essential to overcoming these challenges and succeeding when it comes to member communication management.

Multi-channel communications are not the wave of the future for credit unions. Your members are already in control today and their expectations as to how you communicate with them are on the rise.

Implementing a well-thought-out member communication strategy can help ensure member retention by getting important information to your members more quickly-and with a personal touch via the channel they prefer.

Doug Cox is the Director of North America Enterprise Business for GMC Software Technology. He can be reached at d.cox@gmc.net