Credit Unions Must Have a Customer Communication Strategy

by | Feb 12, 2021

Improving Customer Experience Through Enhanced Digital Customer Communication Is Critical For Credit Unions

Many credit unions were not prepared for the impact of the global pandemic on the traditional way of servicing customers. As in other industries, credit unions had to act very quickly to enable employees to work from home. In addition, they had to provide services online and establish ways to communicate with members via digital channels.

Customer communication for credit unions is critical now. It’s time to consolidate the upheaval from last year and plans for this year into a defined customer communication strategy.

Credit union members were caught by surprise at the sudden removal of in-branch services and expected credit unions to enable their core banking services in the digital environment.  

According to an article in Credit Union Times, “The pandemic would prove to put the credit union model under stress, unlike anything we had ever seen.”

When it came to a seamless transition from branch to digital, credit unions that had already invested in digital/cloud infrastructure certainly had a head start, but only if they had invested in all three of the critical requirements:

  1. Providing services to members through online channels. 
  2. Having employees operate securely and efficiently from home. 
  3. Communicating digitally with members in the absence of mail and branch services. 

For credit unions that had not yet begun investing in cloud services or had only implemented one or two of these critical requirements, the challenge of achieving business continuity in the new landscape must have seemed insurmountable.

Investing in the digital customer experience is imperative

Even before the 2020 acceleration of digital engagement, members were exposed to various digital experiences from their other service providers.  Consequently, expectations have evolved and while some will opt to return to the way things were done previously, there is a widespread belief that doing business will never be quite the same as before.

Essentially, credit unions need a new business model that not only recognizes face-to-face, personal service as a fundamental differentiator but can also replicate this online.  The trick is to maintain the personalized feel when adding the convenience of online services and to leverage the wealth of valuable information that digital provides.

Furthermore, credit unions cannot continue to delay the development of a strategic plan for digital transformation. This requires not only a financial investment but also a change in thinking. Of course, being a highly regulated and rules-driven industry, there are additional challenges. For example, keeping the regulators happy with high capital retention, needs to be weighed against the importance of building a stable and scalable business that will survive in the digital future.

When it comes to powering the digital transformation that creates engaged members and improves customer experience, digital communication is a great place to start.

It’s not only more manageable and tangible, but it also provides real returns, allowing credit unions to achieve significant results ‒ both in the long and short-term.

4 Steps to take before you define your credit union’s digital customer communication strategy

Credit unions that plan to move the needle on customer communication can use these 4 steps to start the process: 

Expert support iconSpeak to your members: It may seem obvious, but the best people to define what members want, are the members themselves. Engage your members to really understand what they expect going forward.  

Having been forced to use digital channels such as email, portals and apps due to the pandemic, some members may want to revert to the way things were, once branches can operate normally. But others will want to continue interacting digitally and expect their credit union to improve and grow the digital customer experience.

Household view iconDefine your starting point: The pandemic most likely derailed many well-laid plans for 2020 and was the reason for some short-term, crisis interventions that now need to be transitioned to future-proof systems.  

A good way to start is to define your customer journeys so that you have a picture of every interaction with a member and every communication that is exchanged.

Make sure you document how data flows into and through your organization, and what gaps exist in your member data. Plan to close the gaps, so that you have the data you need to really personalize experiences.

sales Tracking iconDefine your end goals: This is an opportunity to paint the big picture of how you want your credit union to look 5 years from now. Will you offer online services across the board including digital banking, real-time payments and self-service account opening? 

Which channels will you use to communicate with members? What data do you need to provide the service you envisage? Once you have this picture, it is easier to map the steps required to reach your digital goals.

Contact management iconConsider outsourcing to a specialist: Small to medium-sized credit unions may be concerned about the cost of digital transformation. Becoming more digital doesn’t necessarily require a large capital outlay, expensive consultants and a year-long project plan.  

Outsourcing to a customer communications management company with experience in providing a platform and services to credit unions is an affordable option and will speed up your time to market. Outsourcing also places the responsibility for technical support and compliance with a specialist, rather than on your inhouse teams.

For credit unions, digital transformation is a requirement for doing business in the digital future. Now is the time to ensure you have both a strategy and a map of how to get there.

Speak to a Doxim credit union specialist about leveraging digital communication to enhance customer experience. GET IN TOUCH

3. Expansion of digital products

As banking customer behavior shifts, banks must move with the times, or risk getting left behind. Many banks today are exploring the power and potential of open banking, which can allow them to offer more innovative products and services to their customers, as well as to better compete with fintech companies and other non-traditional financial service providers.

As you shift your banking business model to reach new segments or provide an enhanced array of services, communication becomes even more pivotal to your success. After all, if your customers don’t know which new services they qualify for, or how those services will help them meet their goals, then they are unlikely to explore them further. CCM technology can be leveraged here to provide personalized on-statement messaging that directs customers to the right products and services, as well as 1:1 personalized “explainer” videos to help them get started.

Adjusting your bank’s priorities to thrive in 2023

In an era of constant change, the key to successfully transforming your bank’s business model will be to stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of customers, and to be open to exploring new opportunities and technologies that can help your FI stay competitive and relevant. But these new opportunities are doomed to fail if you do not clearly communicate their benefits and make it simple for customers to access them.

That is why transforming your customer communication strategy is the best first step to broader digital transformation. By updating your approach to communications to meet omnichannel customer needs, you also position your bank to communicate the benefits of changes in your broader organization, like new or enhanced products and services. The pace of change in banking has never been brisker – but with the right strategic approach to these changes, the future is bright.

Investing in a modern customer communication management and engagement platform is an essential part modernizing your banking strategy, as it can provide the personalized digital experiences that will keep your bank or credit union ahead of the competition. It helps provide a great customer experience, and builds rich relationships, which in turn results in customers for life and a competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving financial marketplace.

How Doxim can address the banking customer communications trends identified and help future-proof your digital banking strategy

banking customer communications trends

Doxim’s experienced consultants and omnichannel platform can help transform your customer experience in many ways, including:

  • Gathering and utilizing customer data to continually improve the personalization of communications.
  • Building trust with customers via communication (via print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and online interactive experiences).
  • Leveraging interactive video to drive personalized digital customer experiences, such as interactive statements, bills, or reports, that offer visual engagement and real-time interactivity
  • Putting customer data, including customer statements, at the fingertips of your service representatives for immediate and personal service.
  • Making a meaningful connection with value-added content, like information about philanthropic activities, on customer statements.

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