Tips for Increasing Member Engagement This Holiday Season

 

Before the end of September, retailers were putting out Christmas decorations. As the debate about when it’s “appropriate” to start shopping and planning for the holiday season rages, it feels worse than normal this year, and there’s a reason for that. Tons of news outlets and retailers are echoing the same sentiment: shop early this year, as the last 18 months have caused supply shortages in many industries. Here are some ways to increase member engagement this holiday season, and you should start doing them right now.

Prepaid Cards

Gift cards and cash are at the top of many people’s lists this year. Financial hardships still abound as we try to combat the global effects of the coronavirus pandemic, from supply shortages to labor shortages and more.

Prepaid cards can also be used to help your members budget for their holiday spending. They can be used in-store and online, and they can mitigate risk for users because they aren’t tied to any specific bank accounts. With more and more online scammers building websites that trick and mislead customers, the holiday season will likely see its fair share of digital fraud and theft.

The convenience and cybersecurity benefits of prepaid cards are undeniable. It’s a great way help your member start their Christmas shopping off right.

Highlight Community Outreach

Giving is a big part of the holiday season, and your credit union should take advantage of that to showcase what your branches are doing to give back to your communities.

Use your social media platforms, onsite displays, and more to bring attention to the work your credit union does to take care of the families and friends in the area. You can do this by highlighting your 2021 efforts or creating new opportunities for community outreach before and during the holidays themselves. Take up specific causes, and make sure you are vocal about them online.

Promote Employee Holiday Cheer

Don’t forget about your staff! The best way to get your members in the holiday spirit is to show the cheer your employees have. 

Take a look at your usual events and ideas. Instead of allowing your staff to dress in their holiday best for one day, you can run a fun “contest” every Friday – invite your staff to get creative with holiday themes using their wardrobes, then post the top picks on social media and have your followers vote on the one with the best “holiday spirit.” That employee could win something small like a free lunch or gift card to a local business.

There are tons of ways to highlight the holidays for more than just a week or two!

Hold Giveaways

Another way to generate member engagement and community outreach is by holding giveaways before and during the different holidays. Bolster community ties by partnering with a different business every week or every holiday. Your members will discover new community gems they weren’t familiar with, and they’ll see that your business is committed to helping bring success to all area businesses. You could offer this to current business-facing credit union members first or create a Business Spotlight program that runs through the holiday season and brings attention to area businesses that do their banking with you.

Offer Holiday-Edition Financial Management Classes

86% of millennials overspend during the holidays – and that sets them back in the new year and beyond. You could help ease these burdens by offering some financial education opportunities that are specifically tailored to learning how to budget for the holidays, shopping tips, or even financial safety tips (how to tell if a retail website is “legit,” and other helpful topics). Member engagement can come from many places, and showing that you care about the financial health of your members – especially during this time of the year when money is flowing in unusual ways – can help them see that your brand is helpful and genuine in its efforts.

Have Yourself a Credit Union Christmas – Without Data Problems

IMS offers data backup and disaster recovery solutions – the holidays are the last time of the year when you want to have data problems. Our backup services are all-inclusive, to help you get back to taking care of your members during what is sure to be an interesting and uniquely challenging holiday season.

Contact IMS for more information.


Make Your Credit Union a Member’s Primary Financial Institution

 

Did you know that only 24% of credit union members currently view their credit union as their primary financial institution? Here are some strategies for making your credit union your members’ primary institution.

Push Your Member Experience Support to the Digital World

“Just Google it” is the motto of an entire generation. Rather than asking questions and being satisfied when they hear, “I don’t know” as the only answer, Millennials and Gen Z are tech-savvy and ready to use their internet connection to help them tackle anything that life throws at them.

This also means that customer service is now digital. Does your credit union have a dynamic member services FAQs page (with text and videos)? Are you hosting webinars for financial literacy and creating chatbot interfaces to help give your members support every time they come to your website?

The big shift to digital services that took place during the coronavirus pandemic is now set to be the primary method for getting anything and everything done.

Products and Services Aren’t Enough – You Need to Be Engaging

Today’s members aren’t looking for just a service, they’re looking for brands that want to understand and engage with them. They want to be able to contact your credit union or jump onto your website and find the best possible advice for their situation and needs. It’s no longer about facilitating a transaction but carrying on a conversation with your member’s needs.

Success in this engagement comes, first and foremost, through your employees. With the right training and data, your team can be the determining factor in making your credit union your members’ primary financial institution.

Personalization is Paramount

Part of that employee training needs to be based on how to incorporate personalization as often as possible. There is a reason that members are called “members” and not “customers.” Mass banking and automation are not the cornerstones of your business. The ability to make every member feel like a “regular” in your establishment is.

But having your staff try and remember the preferences of everyone who comes in your doors or uses your online services is impossible. But data storage and analysis can do that heavy lifting for you. You can look at trends in a member’s banking behavior, personal meetings or loan needs, and so much more when you have a solid data collection and storage process.

Going Digital Doesn’t Mean Forgoing Face-To-Face Interactions

With the focus on cutting-edge digital solutions, it’s easy to start thinking the physical aspects of your credit union – your lobbies, teller desks, and meeting rooms – will soon be obsolete. But in fact, many financial institutions have seen an 80% bounce-back of in-person transactions after they reopened their branches.

Members still crave in-depth conversations with your knowledgeable and professional teams. That face-to-face time is often how you, your teams, and the members learn incredibly important information about products, services, and how to best serve your members.

CUInsight has an incredible example in part 2 of their three-part series on increasing the number of members who consider your credit union their primary financial institution. In Scenario 1, a credit union team member pulls up the account opening checklist when a new member wants to sign up. Depending on what the checklist includes, the member may or may not get the things they need from their new account. But in Scenario 2, the credit union team member has been trained to see this new member’s presence as an opportunity to gain insight into the products and services the member needs right now, and possibly even discuss some things they will need in the future.

Great data solutions and training can help show members that your credit union deserves to be their primary financial institution.

IMS Has the Data Solutions

IMS is a leading provider of enterprise data protection solutions for credit unions. We can help you with everything from core hosting to disaster recovery, IaaS, and more.

Contact IMS for more information.


Lessons for Future Credit Union Leaders

 

New leaders learn from experience, education, and the leaders who came before them. And as credit unions grow and change to keep up with the demands of members all over the country, we thought we would take a break from focusing on the future to look back on the lessons that credit union leaders have learned.

Experience + Tech = Success

In a piece titled “Shaping the Future of Our Movement,” Jim Nussle (president and CEO of Credit Union National Association) shared some of the leadership insights he’s gathered over his many years working in the credit union industry.

Credit unions are often seen as “old-school” in the way they do business. But it’s that tried and true, exceptional member experience that sets credit unions above big bans, especially for younger members.

Speaking on this, Nussle said, “I’m far from cutting edge when it comes to technology, but our next generation of leaders was born into a mobile-enabled world, coming of age as the smartphone transformed our lives. It’s that digital-savvy which will lead our businesses and our movement into the future.”

Diversity and the Pursuit of Financial Wellbeing for All

Nussle also talked about the need for future credit union leaders to set their sights on achieving “financial wellbeing for all.”

Creating more options for financial wellbeing – including resources, products and services, and other highly inclusive solutions will not only grow your member base, but will also positively impact your members’ futures and your community as a whole.

Nussle encourages future credit union leaders to ask themselves, “How will I take a leadership role in helping the credit union movement promote financial wellbeing for all?” as a starting point for fostering innovative and diverse credit union solutions for members.

Insights from ‘Ask the Old Guy’

CUNA has recently started a blog series called “Ask the Old Guy” and we are loving it. This series is written in a style reminiscent of newspaper advice columns. The first featured expert is James Collins, president and CEO of O Bee Credit Union.

Much of the advice offered is more a primer for current and future credit union leaders to help them think critically about some of the issues and processes that lie ahead. Many of the answers also have a touch of humor, but the general best practices outlined in the article include fresh takes on coworker and member relationship building or problem-solving.

Our favorite nugget of wisdom from “Ask the Old Guy”? Here it is:

“Leadership is the ability to convince others to wholeheartedly follow you on the path to a common goal. It is not an ability that is bestowed, learned, or practiced. Rather, it requires you to have the trust of those around you.”

20 Years & 20 Lessons

CUInsight featured an article by Jayni Sech, who is celebrating 20 years as a business professional and she shared 20 lessons she’s learned along the way, from professional tips to life lessons.

Though all 20 of her insights were great, it was this thought that spoke volumes: “As I look back on the last 20 years, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to learn the lesson.”

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep leading. The journey will be a great one.

CU Leaders Need Great Digital Solutions

Being a leader means helping shape your credit union so that it will continue to thrive for years into the future. IMS has a range of services – like cloud backups, core hosting, IaaS, and disaster recovery – to help you make the most of your credit union, today and always.

Contact us for more information.


How Can Credit Unions Prepare for Regulatory Changes?

 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only changed daily life but also many industry futures. As credit unions take stock in the amazing transformations that took place in 2020, many regulatory bodies are taking a hard look at their best practices through the lens of a global crisis.

Let’s discuss how credit unions can prepare for regulatory changes.

Preparing for Regulatory Changes

Recently, Credit Union Business News featured an article by Joel Schwartz, Founder & Co-Chief Executive Officer of DoubleCheck Solutions. This article highlights the ways credit unions will be facing regulatory changes as the world moves out of the pandemic.

Many expect consumer protection and financial transparency regulations to take center stage.

Consumer Protection & Empowerment

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is waiting on a Congressional vote to institute Rohit Chopra as Director, and if that happens, consumer protection and empowerment regulations are likely to be more heavily enforced. But what does that mean?

It means more guidelines will be put forth to promote more financial transparency for consumers, thus empowering them to make better-informed decisions regarding their banking and other financial activities.

This enforcement comes on the heels of heavy amounts of class-action lawsuits being filed against credit unions. Many of these lawsuits stem from “deceptive practices in assessing non-sufficient fund (NSF) fees.

Minimizing Operations Impact

This push for financial transparency is spearheaded by a goal of providing straightforward financial services without drastically impacting credit union operations.

This push will most heavily impact language and operations surrounding things like overdraft programs, to cut out excessive fees and vague language. This change, however, could easily wipe out a credit union’s main source of non-interest income: NSF fees.

These changes would affect your core system and its operations related to checking account structure. Alerts, notifications, and fee assignments would all have to be modified to reflect more transparent and specific situations and guidelines.

Your credit union would also have to put time and labor hours into alerting your customer base about these changes – what they are, who and what they apply to, and when they take effect.

This also means employees will spend more time auditing and ensuring compliance with the new, stricter regulations.

This would also have a financial impact. Members will love paying fewer overdraft fees, but bounce fees and late payments could be steeper, which negatively affects your credit union’s bottom line.

The Good News

Credit unions can get ahead of the curve by implementing better technology that can handle these regulatory changes now. Partner with a fintech or software provider that can customize your operations surrounding NSF fees before the government starts mandating it. This will help you work out operations kinks and train your staff on the new system before you are expected to have these protocols in place. It also gives your credit union reputation a boost, positioning it as member-centric and forward-focused.

Be sure to look for a fintech or software provider that already has a solid foundation in the banking industry. Or partner with a company that has solutions tailored to credit unions specifically, like IMS.

Get Your Revamped CU Solutions from IMS

IMS can help with the tech upgrades that will make your next regulation-based transitions easier on your credit union team and your members.

IMS has virtual private cloud services and solutions like core hosting, virtual desktop, disaster recovery, and more for your credit union. Contact us today for more information.


The Role of Personalization in the Member Experience

 

For more than a year, businesses and citizens have been wading through a world that has all but killed the casual conversation and public gatherings. We are more acutely aware of even the most fleeting of interactions and relationships. And that’s why personalization is becoming more important in everyday communications and transactions.

Credit unions have continued to position themselves as the local, community-first banking option in towns and cities all over the country. To keep that reputation, credit union leaders are conducting studies and implementing new policies to analyze and highlight the crucial role personalization plays in the member experience.

The Importance of Personalization

A recent episode of the CUNA News Podcast, a panel of credit union leaders got together to discuss the importance of personalization in the member experience.

Personalization is a marketing strategy that can help increase customer satisfaction and engagement in businesses of all sizes, but it’s even more important for credit unions. Credit unions are the friendly, community-oriented banking option in many cities and towns. This means the personal touch is even more essential.

By creating a personal atmosphere that is optimized to create feelings of community and trustworthiness, credit unions can increase membership numbers and showcase what a positive presence they bring to the area business landscape.

“Personalization takes a lot of different shapes and forms. It can be empathy, it can be needs-based selling, it can be people helping people…All of those contain a great deal of personalization,” says Paul Robert, CEO of FI Strategies.

How to Personalize Member Interactions

There are so many ways to personalize the experience of your members. This can be spurred by brainstorming activities or having team huddles about the conversations that members seem to be having with credit union employees, to start. And the central question here should be “What are we going to do for our members?”

Can you engage with your members at a higher level? What does that look and sound like? How do we train or guide our employees to start generating more meaningful and helpful conversations with customers?

Many places from restaurants to doctors’ offices even keep notes in their database systems to add a more personal touch – these notes can include anything from their financial questions to the number of children they have, and other small or everyday details that can help your member to be recognizable by your staff.

Personalization Promotes Loyalty

We know, based on a variety of marketing and industry studies, that adding personalization elements to marketing emails is very beneficial.

Email analytic metrics show things like 31-67% decrease in bounce-back rates, affinity and interest segments perform 28-62% better for credit unions.

Adding personalization elements to all interactions, both digital and face-to-face, increases performance and is also more memorable in the minds of your members. Remember to personalize more than just the name in your email subject line. Now more than ever, people want to be seen as individuals and treated as valued customers.

Employee Team Building Also Plays a Part

Creating a community-oriented, personalized atmosphere starts with your credit union team. Fostering collaboration and creativity in your team can open the door for some great brainstorming sessions that could lead to a business-wide approach for personalizing the member experience.

Leave the Backups to Us

Just like you want personalization to be at the forefront of your member experience, IMS wants to tailor its data and security services to better protect your credit union and its data assets.

IMS has virtual private cloud services and solutions like core hosting, virtual desktop, disaster recovery, and more for your credit union. Contact us today for more information.


Payment Preferences Have Changed This Year

Since the start of the pandemic, new and expanded technology has become a way to move through the world safely. And that means your credit union’s contactless payment solutions are probably here to stay.

Here are some of the ways payments have changed this year, and how those changes may look in the future.

Contactless Is Key

As of July 2020, the NAFCU reported a “259% year over year increase in contactless volume.”

Contactless transactions and operations are safer during this pandemic, but there’s no denying that many of these options are also more convenient for Americans, especially right now as they juggle remote work, online schooling with their children, and other COVID-related changes.

A study done recently by Mastercard shows that 46% of cardholders have moved their contactless cards to the Top-of-Wallet positions in their physical and digital wallets.

Online Shopping Is Preferred in 2020: Banking Trends Are Shifting, Too

This holiday season, 77% of online shoppers are planning to do more than half of their holiday shopping online. 

Credit unions often struggle to adopt the latest technology, but that will have to change as the future is becoming more and more digitally-based. Consumers, shoppers, and credit union members are increasingly trusting of online banking and payment technologies.

Some good news here for credit unions is that mobile payments are taking a backseat to contactless cards for the top payment method. Credit unions can work with this by increasing those contactless options with their credit and debit card offerings.

Moving Forward

These payment preferences may have been impacted by the protocols and changes COVID-19 has affected, but the trend toward digital and contactless transactions is here to stay. So what does that mean for your credit union?

It will be wise to plan on implementing and bolstering contactless card options – for debit and credit card options. This could include promoting these contactless options in everyday purchases, like grocery and pharmacy expenses, as well as highlighting the health and hygiene benefits of contactless payments.

74% of MasterCard customers state they will continue using contactless payments as a primary practice post-pandemic, according to a report in April of 2020. And these trends have only gotten more popular as the pandemic continues to impact the activities of daily life.

Upgrade Your Business-Facing Technology, Too

The customer-facing technology updates are only as good as their back-end support and infrastructure. IMS has a host of virtual private cloud and other tech services for credit unions. If you are interested in upgrading some of your technology with core hosting, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery tools, contact us today.


3 Reasons Financial Education is More Important Post-Pandemic

2020 began with some devastating financial blows, and many bank accounts have yet to recover. We wanted to take a moment to share some reasons why financial education is so important right now.

COVID and the Lack of Financial Literacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than just our physical health – it has impacted our financial health as well. And unfortunately, many people who were the most financially unstable also took the biggest hits when the shelter in place orders and other layoffs started.

89% of Americans believe that a lack of financial education “contributes to bigger social issues in America, including poverty, lack of job opportunities, and wealth inequality,” according to an article from Fortune.

Credit unions are some of the top institutions that provide low-cost or no-cost financial education to their members, and right now is a perfect time to expand those offerings.

Reasons Why Financial Education is Important, Especially Now

Financial education is not just for kids, though it is always a great idea to start educating young people about the importance of financial health and stability. Everyone, no matter your age, race, gender, or financial background, can benefit from this education.

Your Financial Needs Change as You Age

Financial literacy and education can be more than just learning how to balance a checkbook or create a household budget – it can help students become more aware of the benefits of the FAFSA and other grants and loans with low or zero percent interest rates.

It can teach young adults about the importance and impact of credit and debit card use, or help middle-aged citizens start planning for retirement.

Planning for Disaster is Better than Just Reacting to It

Credit union members, no matter how frugal, were likely not prepared for a majority of 2020 to be spent surviving and reacting to a pandemic, where job loss and economic downturn were rampant.

Financial education is like the Disaster Preparedness lesson you sat through as a kid when your instructor told you to go home and make a plan with your family for surviving common disasters like floods, thunderstorms, and power outages. No one wants to look for flashlights when the lights go out, you want to know where they are.

The same is true with finances: half of all Americans report they would “feel financial hardship if they had to cover an emergency expense of $1,000 or less in the next 30 days,” according to a Charles Schwab Financial Literacy Survey.

The $1,200 federal stimulus checks are long gone for the majority of Americans, and what we thought would be a blip in our year has now become months of unemployment and reduced work hours, and more and more families are facing tough financial decisions as the holidays approach.

Financial Education Helps Younger Generations Move Upward, Out of Poverty

Those who are born into financial stability or excess likely won’t see a drastic change in their investment income and stability by employing tactics learned through financial education courses, but those individuals who are raised in lower economic classes can.

This means those individuals and families who are struggling the most can benefit the most and improve their financial health the quickest when they have access to financial education at a younger age.

Credit Unions Need Help, Too

IMS is your home for virtual private cloud services. If you are interested in enhancing member experience with core hosting, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery tools, contact us today.


Improve Your Credit Union Member Experience

 

Almost 40% of credit union members with adult children do not want their children to have an account at the same credit union to which they belong, according to an August article from CUToday. But rather than dwelling on the negatives, now is a great time to see this as an opportunity to improve member experience and reclaim these potential accounts. So how do you improve your credit union member experience? We’ve pulled some great insights from a handful of resources to help you make your credit union more member-centric.

Eliminate Physical Location Requirements

In the same CUToday article, one of the main reasons adult children of credit union members leave is obvious: they moved away. As credit unions try to close the gap between what they can offer and what national banks already do, digital banking software, websites, and apps can entice members’ children to continue banking at their hometown credit union.

Offer a Family Plan

Another interesting and untapped idea is incentives for families that bank together. Starting dialogue within families could be a valuable addition to your CU’s educational and financial offerings.

If cell phones, and streaming services, and music apps create family plans to cater to members, why not try it at your friendly, neighborhood credit union?

Create a Customer Experience Management Strategy

It’s easy for managers to delegate the fostering of customer service excellence to those employees with direct customer contact. But the customer experience, especially in this digital age, is not just about having a helpful and friendly teller at the counter or drive-thru window.

There are dozens of touchpoints that your customers will experience without ever interacting with a human. When building new pathways and digital solutions, always put yourself in the mind of that customer. If you are developing an app, ask employees with tech skills similar to those of your members to test the new process. Ask them what they liked, and what they didn’t.

You can also foster the same feedback from your members after the new tech has been offered to them. Ask those using it how they feel, and even more importantly, ask those who are not using it why they haven’t.

Show Empathy for This Year’s Unique Struggles

COVID-19, at its core, has been a master class in disaster planning and recovery strategy. And with the effects of the pandemic being projected to stick around for the next year or two (depending on your source), now is the time to pull out all the stops.

Your members are stressed, and confused. Many are worried about their financial situations. You could create new or modified programs to combat these new worries. Add education about government financial support, or reach out to prospects by differentiating yourself as an advocate for their financial stability and success.

Stay on top of new government, legal, and regulatory mandates to show your members that you are in their corner, always. On a larger scale, modifying your core system to incorporate new fee waiving protocols and other relief packages are fast becoming essential.

IMS Can Enhance Member Experience

IMS is your home for virtual private cloud services.

Contact us to find out how you can enhance member experience with our core hosting, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery tools.