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Digital Strategy = Opps Galore for Cornerstone Region CUs
Thursday, June 16, 2016 6:35 AM

By Jon Knoll, VP Sales and Service, Credit Union Resources

It’s not that old, yet there is a crack in my wife’s debit card. That didn’t take long. We have two different ways of thinking about this. Her question is, “How do I order another one?” My answer is, “Well we need to figure out why it has cracked so quickly… the first idea that comes to mind is that you are using it way too much.”

One would think that I would know better. I should have followed our priest’s advice and/or my father’s advice. I should have just said, “Yes dear, let’s find out how to order you a new debit card, and we can look at all the great customization options for the design that our credit union offers." It’s a great thing she knows how to handle me; she simply said, “Ha ha, but I do need your help.” The way she said “ha ha” was in the low voice, that funny-but-not-really kind of tone. It was a warning shot, so to speak.

I offered that we could call the credit union; it may take just a few minutes for them to order a customized card of our choosing. Here is the response we all knew was coming. “Shouldn’t I be able to do this on my mobile app?” 

The answer to that question is yes. However, I couldn’t find how/where to order a new card whether it was on the mobile app, home banking, or on the website. Two weeks later, we still haven’t called the credit union to re-order. It’s a good thing the card is still working; however, when it finally doesn’t work, I’ll be in trouble, again.

A week after this discussion with my wife, I attended the Cornerstone Credit Union League Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City. We had a speaker deliver a great message about building a brand and building a strategy to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Ken Schmidt, from Harley-Davidson, took us through a simple exercise. He asked a hypothetical question: “What if I moved to Boerne, Texas, to be closer to my in-laws? Where would I find my mortgage loan, auto loans, and recreational loans?”

He checked several local credit union and bank websites and displayed his findings to us. Interestingly enough, all of the websites looked eerily the same, using the same colors, similar format and design, and offered nearly the same rates, products, and services. The exercise took about 30 seconds as we viewed a half dozen or so websites. In preparation for this blog, I surfed many credit union and bank websites, and found the same phenomenon. Here are a couple of sites that were different:

Ken’s example about moving to Texas is a real thing. Like Ken, many people are looking to move into our region. Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma project continued record-breaking population growth. By 2030, North Texas alone is expected to grow by 3 million people. In Collin County, we expect an 80 percent growth in population by 2030. In Oklahoma, the population will grow from 3.9 million to 4.4 million. In Arkansas, population is expected to grow from 2.9 million to 3.2 million. In all cases, this population growth is expected to be the younger generations. They will ask the question that my wife asked: can I just do this on my mobile app?

There are many challenges to moving everything a credit union does to a mobile platform. We would like to think that everything is plug-and-play, flip a switch and it works, and that it all integrates seamlessly. This just isn’t the case. Credit unions have begun creating a digital strategy, including website design, mobile app, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and many other social media applications, and all of these apps must work together speaking to our brand and our messaging.

Here are a few highlights from Filene Research Institute about why a digital strategy is important: 

  • 20 X increase in mobile searches for banking terms in the last three years;
  • 50 percent of consumers report searching exclusively online for financial services products;
  • Online banking adoption rates for credit unions exceed bank customers; and
  • By 2020, Gen Y will comprise 40 percent of all workers and will be in their key borrowing years.

Not only must we be able to do anything and everything through the available channels, our behind-the-scenes processes must be effective and efficient. The best experience I have had to date is a recent credit card pre-approval email I received from my credit union. I clicked on the link, verified which credit card product I wanted, verified my information, and three days later, voila, a new EMV chip-enabled card was at my doorstep. The whole process to accept the pre-approval offer felt like it took under 60 seconds. In addition, I can manage the card through the same mobile app I access for everything else—brilliant.

The Filene Research Institute has resources available for all size credit unions, including a program to assist credit unions in building a comprehensive digital strategy from the ground up. It will become a living and breathing plan in your institution. Here is the link to the Digital Strategies landing page:

What is your digital strategy through 2030? Let’s get ready for the influx of potential members in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.