How The Digital Consumer Is Different

Credit unions are experiencing a surge of new traffic from consumers interested in a more personalized banking experience. In fact, Experian Hitwise found that the total number of U.S. visits to credit union websites increased by 21% in the last year.

This statistic highlights a growing interest in credit unions, but also supports the idea of a changing, ever-more-digital consumer. While new members used to come into a branch to open an account, many now choose to open one through a website or mobile device.

This heightened attraction to the self-service environment can bring out mixed emotions from credit unions. On one hand, this new setting brings increased efficiency and lower costs. But, in an industry that prides itself on providing high levels of member service, diminished face-to-face interaction can detract from a personalized experience.

The challenge now facing credit unions is to create a personalized experience for the digital consumer. While this is important throughout the member lifecycle, it is especially important during on-boarding. In particular, member communications during the first 60 days after account opening require extra attention.

To ensure effective digital member communications, credit unions need to pay attention to the channel through which messages are distributed, but also ensure that messages arrive in a timely fashion.

The digital consumer works through multiple media, so it is important for credit unions to communicate with the new member in the channels they prefer. While some items, such as PIN numbers and checks, must be sent via physical mail, other communications can move to e-mail.

In fact, e-mail statements are becoming more prevalent in the industry. They are cheaper and greener than traditional paper mailings, but the digital consumer also prefers them. Electronic statements can be accessed from anywhere and can be filed away digitally. But emails can also be used for important marketing communications, promoting additional services the credit union offers.

Time To Evaluate

Institutions need to evaluate which communications must be sent through physical mail, but work with the new member to decide how other communications are delivered.

But for new digital members, credit unions need to also ensure prompt delivery of communications. For a self-service member, the timeliness of on-boarding communications can make or break the new relationship. The new member will not have received the personal touch often provided during account opening in the branch, so they need to receive that welcome through on-boarding communications.

Ensuring deliverability begins with capturing member contact information accurately at the time of account opening. Information entered in self-service portals is often the worst in a database. This means that credit unions should integrate contact data verification in digital channels to ensure that information is accurate at the point of capture. This will allow communications to reach new member quickly, the first time.

But with digital channels, it isn't enough to make sure the member has an accurate mailing address. Credit unions need to make sure they are capturing as much contact information as they can, including email address and cell phone.

As communication continues to digitalize and members become ever more mobile, credit unions need to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that they can communicate with members, no matter the channel. This allows institutions to better adapt to the digital consumer through the on-boarding process, but also throughout the member lifecycle.

Thomas Schutz is SVP General Manager of Experian QAS.