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5 Reasons to Make Convenience a Strategic Priority
Thursday, March 30, 2017 6:35 AM

Rich Trace, VP of Wholesale Lending and Commercial Protection, CUNA Mutual Group

Consumer demand for convenience is impacting the customer experience like never before. As one credit union representative put it in this short video, “technology has spoiled us completely. Everything’s about accessibility, being convenient.”

With January’s credit union trends report projecting loan growth in 2017 to exceed 10 percent, credit unions have a huge opportunity ahead of them.1 Your success this year and beyond may well depend on how convenient it is for members to do business with you.

Here’s why:

Your Competition Gets It
Competitors realize that consumers increasingly prefer conducting business when and where it suits them, not around office hours or locations. It’s no surprise that 71 percent of financial institutions said improving the customer’s digital experience was their top priority for 2017.2

Convenience Goes Both Ways
Consumers will take the path of least resistance, as long as it delivers value and meets their needs. One clear sign is the fact that online-virtual banks had the highest net gain (11 percent) among customers switching their financial services provider in 2016.3

Mobile is a Must
The face-to-face channel isn’t dead, but the prognosis isn’t pretty. As smartphones get smarter and deliver more convenience, mobile is growing as the channel of choice. Use of mobile banking grew from 33 percent in 2013 to 43 percent in 2015 among mobile phone owners with a bank account.4

The Technology Revolution is Picking-Up Speed
From ATMs to debit cards to mobile banking, there used to be a lag between the next big innovation, and you had time to react. That’s not the case today, not with investment in financial technologies (fintech) having soared in the past decade, from $1.8 billion in 2010 to $19 billion in 2015.5 Spurring this investment surge is fintechs’ ability to offer “solutions that can better address customer needs by offering enhanced accessibility, convenience, and tailored products.”6

You May Have Blinders On
If you think your members already find you convenient and have little reason to leave, you may need to think again. The customers’ perception is reality. To illustrate, 62 percent of retail banking executives surveyed said they deliver an excellent customer experience. Only 35 percent of customers agreed.7

If members aren’t getting what they want, there are plenty of competitors stepping up to give it to them. It’s no wonder there’s so much emphasis on improving the customer experience to deliver convenience.

As members continue to migrate toward the most convenient channels available, successful credit unions will empower them to manage their finances as easily as possible. Three keys to success will be:

  • Delivering a streamlined, efficient, end-to-end lending process to support credit union growth.
  • Using digital tools to engage credit union employees and arm them to better meet evolving member expectations.
  • Understanding that data is a roadmap to tendencies and behaviors that focus on how you optimize member interactions.

While delivering convenience is vital to meeting your members’ expectations, it’s a never-ending process. As easy as you make it for members to join and do business with you, they can just as easily leave.

___________________________________________
 
Rich Trace is vice president of Wholesale Lending and Commercial Protection for CUNA Mutual Group. In this role he leads the team responsible for the overall business strategy, product management, execution and financial results for one of the company’s core business units.
Rich can be reached at Rich.Trace@cunamutual.com.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

CUNA Mutual is an endorsed five-star business partner of Credit Union Resources, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornerstone Credit Union League.

Sources:

  1. CUNA Mutual Group, “Credit Union Trends Report,” Jan. 2017.
  2. The Financial Brand, “Top Ten Strategic Priorities for Banking in 2017,” Dec. 7, 2016.
  3. Accenture, 2016 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey, 2016.
  4. The Federal Reserve, “Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2016,” March 2016.
  5. World Economic Forum, “What does the rise of fintech mean for banking?” April 4, 2016.
  6. PwC, “Blurred lines: How FinTech is shaping Financial Services,” March 2016.
  7. IBM, “IBM Study: Customer Loyalty Shrinking For Banks at a Time When Relationships Matter Most,” Oct. 21, 2015.