By Heang Chan, Co-Founder and CEO of Prelim
With the rise of consumers using fintech apps like Robinhood, Venmo, Credit Karma, and Chime credit union members now have come to expect first-class digital experiences in all facets of their financial lives. Members now prioritize convenience and speed more than ever before.
Banks and credit unions have been compelled to adapt to these needs, creating increasingly user-friendly digital banking experiences for their customers and members, without sacrificing the secure and personalized experience of in-person banking.
While digital banking has become the norm, the truth is that many credit unions have focused solely on the initial application when thinking about digital transformation often fails to consider the entirety of the customer journey. The reasons for this are myriad. Much of the legacy technology in place at credit unions was built from -- and for -- the branch environment, so the shift to digital sometimes features technologies that fail to match modern consumer expectations for online commerce. Most consumers appreciate transparency and accessibility in their online experiences, and these are crucial for building a trustworthy relationship between credit unions and their members. Even something as simple as a notification that an application is being processed can help members feel more engaged with the institution.
Additionally, more credit unions are taking on the responsibility of becoming financial wellness partners for their members. By offering engaging visuals of a member’s financial status or clear descriptions of their products and services, credit unions can stand out in a competitive market (and increase their stickiness on other products). Educating members online in concise, coherent and entertaining ways can significantly benefit a credit union’s’ relationships with its members as positioning them as not only the experts that manage their money, but also trusted advisors on what is best for their financial future. This also helps credit unions maintain a steady output of relevant communication to members. Being able to provide regular reports and updates on member finances -- as well as rapidly retrieve requested files and information -- solidifies that relationship and demonstrates an appreciation (and even anticipation) of members’ needs.
When executed properly, a streamlined, user-friendly digital interface can enhance the entire end-to-end member experience as each touchpoint can be elevated with the right online interaction. While not all credit unions have the budget to design their own technology, leveraging technology solutions and/or partners that can focus on this complete view of the member journey can provide them with the tools they need to succeed now and grow with them later. Credit unions should evaluate platforms based on their ability to collect, manage and analyze data across the entire technology stack to optimize member interactions.
While some credit unions continue to display hesitance when it comes to automation, the benefits and efficiencies far outweigh the risks, both real and perceived. Intelligent automation will enhance, not hinder, their work by allowing them to focus on situations where a human touch is more valuable. For example, today origination processes for financial products and services often require consumers to wait for a bank employee to complete tasks in order to get a rate quote or receive a disclosure or get an underwriting decision when all of these can be automated; thereby putting the consumer in the driver seat and letting the technology perform operational tasks seamlessly in the background.
Credit unions are now understanding that their members live in a digital world with the expectation of a quick, yet still high quality, member experience. Those credit unions who use this as the guidepost for their digital transformation initiatives will ultimately realize greater returns in terms of member loyalty over time.
Heang Chan is co-founder and CEO of Prelim, a fintech provider that optimizes digital banking experiences for financial institutions. For more information, connect with Heang on LinkedIn or visit Prelim’s website.