“Flexible” is not a word often attributed to the financial services industry. Strict regulations, policies and underwriting rules mean that credit unions often cannot adapt to member needs as easily as they would like. But when it comes to making staff and services available when, where and how members want them, credit unions have never had more options to be flexible.
To learn more about consumer preferences, JRNI surveyed more than 500 customers and members of US financial institutions about their attitudes about interacting with their bank or credit union. The results demonstrated that credit unions need to expand the ability of members to meet in a branch, online or via web chat.
What are the three fundamental trends driving this?
1. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has caused a significant number of people to want to limit social contact in public places for the time being.
2. The expanding experience economy conditions members to expect more from credit unions. They are drawn to institutions that provide good experiences for their members and shun organizations that don’t. Online reviews and social media posts help members easily spot good or bad member experiences.
3. The rise of remote work has shown consumers that it’s possible to meet anyone almost anytime instantly via video dating without the hassle of driving time, traffic, queues, and more. waiting and waiting in the halls. Some credit union members will prefer to meet staff online, while others will still prefer to meet in person.
While credit unions are seeing a drop in branch visits, overall interactions, whether in-person or online, are still critical to delivering great experiences and building brand loyalty. And the results of the survey confirm it.
- Forty-five percent of financial institution customers and members would prefer to meet with an agent in person, compared to 34% who prefer meeting via video.
- But consumers want the option of video dating. Seventy-seven percent of respondents would prefer to go completely remote. But in-person appointments aren’t going away, as 23% said they still want the option to visit a physical branch of a credit union.
- Many members have found it difficult to interact with their credit union over the past six months. Thirty-three percent of respondents found it difficult to speak to the right person at their institution.
- Bad service was the number one reason members left. Other top reasons people consider switching financial institutions include unhelpful customer service, a poor online banking experience, and an insufficient number of physical branches.
- Additionally, inflexible hours will drive some members away, with 39% of respondents considering switching to a financial institution that offers more flexible service hours.
What these results all showed is that the key for credit unions is to provide flexibility so members can decide what works best for them.
Respondents also noted that online chat and online banking add value, with 68% wanting to use a live chat option to speak with an agent from their institution’s website. Women, in particular, want to chat online, with women nearly twice as likely as men to want to interact with them via chat. And high-income members (over $110,000) are 13% more likely to want online banking.
While online banking is important, credit union members still want to see various employees in person. Members prefer cashiers, loan processing officers, mortgage advisors, investment advisors, relationship managers, loan officers and wealth managers to be available to meet in person. The same group indicated that they wanted access to credit analysts via video.
The survey demonstrated that different types of services require different types of interaction. The top reasons consumers want to bank online are to deal with check payment issues, overdraft services, credit card issues, and debit card issues. However, members want to visit a branch for loans, including mortgages, home equity loans, small business loans and commercial real estate loans. What these transactions have in common is the many options available and the desire to discuss them with an expert.
Companies that want to count strive to improve the experiences they deliver, and customers are conditioned to expect more from companies in return for their loyalty. Major credit unions recognize that giving flexibility to their members is key to improving the member experience.
Branch appointments aren’t going away, and neither are video appointments. Data shows that credit unions that make it easy for their members to do their banking the way they want, including scheduling appointments and meetings the way they want, will attract more members, retain existing ones already and will deliver the experiences that fuel growth and loyalty.
Nick Barnes is Financial Services Practice Director for JRNI, a UK-based provider of an experiential relationship management platform.