Guest Editorial by Kristiane Mandraki, Vice President of Growth, Praxent
In a world where the digital experience is do or die, financial services companies of all types continue to lose customer loyalty and wallet share due to mistakes around frontend design and development, and credit unions are no exception. For too long, credit unions have relied on experiences that are system centric, rather than human centric. It’s time for credit unions to facilitate member experiences with human empathy at the center – it only makes sense given their ‘people helping people’ philosophy and dedication to delivering exceptional service.
To effectively build such experiences, credit unions must rethink the member journey as it stands today, objectively examining where gaps lie. This often means evaluating internally constructed elements of the experience as well as existing and potential fintech partners with a more critical eye, especially when those fintechs are providing technology that is member-facing. The following common UX mistakes should be heeded when building member experiences.
Watch Out for Inconsistencies
As credit unions are increasingly competing with large national banks and digitally savvy new market entrants, there is more urgency than ever to create seamless, consistent member experiences. However, too often a credit union’s fintech partners enable very little customization, preventing them from blending different stages of the member journey. When members move through an experience and each stage looks different, it creates a lack of trust in the system, its functionality, and security, and ultimately the credit union.
Instead, credit unions should be looking for fintech products that they can tailor enough to create a singular, cohesive member journey. Buttons, labels, headings, inputs and colors should be the same or similar throughout. Consistency creates trust, and trust creates retention and referrals. Or better yet, investing in their own front-end experience layer to sit on top of their fintech vendor technology.
Another type of inconsistency to watch out for is prioritizing design improvements in only one phase of the member journey. For example, we most often see this in the account onboarding stage. While the onboarding process is undoubtedly critical to attract new members and expand existing relationships, other parts of the journey tend to drive more traffic. A member experience that degrades as the member progresses will cause more harm in the long run, leaving the member to believe the credit union valued them more as prospects. To create meaningful loyalty, it’s important for members to feel the opposite.
Avoid Information Overload
Too many options and too much information often lead to decision paralysis or member abandonment. As features multiply, it’s important to strategically consider how members navigate and consume information throughout the engagement. For example, the “more” menu has become the common catch all for new features, based on the often-incorrect assumption that members will automatically know to search there. Instead, think more critically about where features fit within the context of the overall member journey.
Neglecting the Digital Front Door
Credit unions are known for their inviting in-branch experience, yet when it comes to the digital world, the entry point is often the cause of a member’s exit. Too frequently, we see credit unions that have embraced digital transformation and carefully constructed a beautiful digital home, but have neglected to repaint their digital front doors: their website experience.
A website is often prospects’ first point of contact with a credit union. Difficult navigation, unclear account information, and a murky user experience can make all the difference in whether or not someone opens an account or applies for a loan. Investing in a modern website that clearly shares relevant information and options with intuitive navigation is just as important as the dollars being spent on other initiatives, like modernizing loan origination systems or account opening tools.
Credit unions have trust and relationships on their side, but it’s become critical to determine how to translate that intimacy in a digital experience. Those that prioritize building human-centered journeys that leverage design best practices will be best positioned to grow and retain member relationships and loyalty.