Two Critical Credit Union Trends Facing the Industry

Today’s credit unions face a number of critical challenges to their survival. These include tougher regulations, higher capital requirements, aggressive competition for deposits and loans and ever-changing demographics and urbanization. Although big banks have a large arsenal of tech and marketing savvy to help them survive, credit unions should focus their resources on two critical credit union trends to remain viable.

Alix Patterson is the chief operating officer of Callahan & Associates and serves on Callahan’s board of directors. She oversees Callahan’s media division and facilitates credit union executive roundtables. Patterson recently outlined the two major emerging trends that today’s credit unions may want to embrace in the coming years.

Omni-channel strategy

Delivering technology on the most important member services — namely lender interactions — tops the list of critical credit union trends as we approach 2015. Credit union members should have the ability to start and continue an application when they have the time, energy and all the paperwork at hand to keep going. They may start at home in the evening, continue the next day at work and then deliver the paperwork to the credit union. At this point, the service reps at the branch can see if the application is complete. If it’s not, they can walk customers through the process.

Integrating this technology has been a challenge for some credit unions that have deployed home banking independent of their core processing. They may have launched their mobile services with an entirely different provider. “Mobile” for them may have meant a browser-based app or a complete mobile app that employs an entirely separate technology. Credit unions should do more than provide account balances over a mobile device. Streamlining home and auto loans across omni channels is what today’s consumers want and need.

Enhancing the brand experience

Many financial services that were once considered novel are now ubiquitous. What’s becoming increasingly important are the interactions customers have with their credit union’s service reps and digital counterparts. These experiences create a brand that can differentiate a credit union from its competitors. Branding in this sense goes beyond logos and taglines to create an overall gratifying experience that includes the ability of service reps to answer questions helpfully. This branding experience extends to both brick and mortar branch offices and mobile banking. To achieve this level of enhanced customer experience and boost brand loyalty, credit unions should immerse themselves in the needs of their location. This means leveraging everything they’ve learned about their local market and customers to offer an experience and suite of products that’s unique to them — things that could make customers keep coming back.

Today’s credit unions should become proactive in delivering the technology and the “what’s in it for me” branding experience customers are demanding from financial institutions.

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