Improving Credit Union Accessibility

 

The more we connect our businesses and credit unions with patrons and members, the more we realize the complexities of each of their lives and experiences with our brand. That’s why improving credit union accessibility should be a top priority for your physical branches and your digital assets this year.

Credit union accessibility is beneficial to everyone, not just those who struggle with disabilities. The more barriers you remove when it comes to your members accessing information and resources from your CU, the more they’ll want to use your products and services in the future.

We live not only in an age of diversity, but one of convenience. And quite often, organizations must anticipate and remove these barriers before their members ever encounter them. Here are some tips for improving credit union accessibility.

Website Accessibility

We’ve talked a little bit before about the importance of ensuring credit union website accessibility. And the optimization and functionality of your credit union’s website have never been more important than in this post-pandemic, tech-driven landscape.

The NAFCU has a great article that outlines the latest guidance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding website accessibility. The article includes common areas and website programs that create accessibility barriers. These items include things like poor color contrast, content where color is used as the primary means for explaining something – imagine a colorblind user trying to decipher a color-coded pie chart, graph, or infographic for example – lack of alt text on images, videos with no captions, and mouse-only navigation.

Online Forms

Online forms are another area of difficulty for many people with disabilities. If your forms are slightly inconvenient for you or for other abled staff members, then it will be even more difficult when a credit union member with a disability attempts to use them. User experience is a growing area of concern for many websites, as it’s now often the primary way their members and customers are interacting with their brand, products, and services.

IMS Integrations Online Self Service forms are designed to be customizable and integrated solutions to help you collect the information you need from your members in order to process their requests and help then with their online banking needs. We’ve got forms for a wide array of products and services, like check reorders, HELOC adjustments, information requests, lost card notifications, and much more.

Listen to Your Members

Though the DOJ shared some helpful guidelines for increasing website accessibility for your credit union members, it’s important to remember that they are still just guidelines. Websites aren’t all built the same. Many were built from templates or through third-party hosts, and others were customized and built from scratch for your credit union specifically.

Creating narrow, pointed rules for how these websites should look, feel, and operate is impossible. And given the rate at which things change in web development and other digital fields, that won’t be changing.

So, what can you do to ensure that you are giving your members the best experience possible? Ask them! Reviews, feedback forms, and “Contact Us” pages are a great place to start. When things aren’t working for your members, you can bet they’ll take to the world wide web to share their feelings about it.

And when they start talking, make sure you listen. Your brand as a credit union hinges on the loyalty of your members and your reputation as a business. By listening to the concerns of those who are using or wish to use your online resources, you can tailor the experience to fit those needs.

Get in the Habit of Perpetual Optimization

As we said, technology is constantly changing. What may have been the best tool for helping visually impaired credit union members navigate your site last year may have been replaced with newer, better tech this year.

You will still encounter problems with members who are uniquely disabled or wholly uneducated in the finer points of technology and website optimization. However, it’s much harder to try and change a website after it’s built or reworked than it is to move through your next website project with credit union accessibility towards the top of your priority list.

The accessibility of your credit unions and their websites is not only important for legal reasons, but for representation and reputation reasons as well. The more groups of different people you can cater to and provide optimized banking technology to, the more you will find your member engagement and new member numbers growing.

Accessibility through Tech-Based Credit Union Solutions

IMSI offers a handful of elegant, member-facing web solutions that can help drive credit union accessibility in your branches and communities.

From online self service forms to trial balance and online courtesy pay, our solutions are made with your credit union members in mind, and your staff’s ability to easily integrate these new programs into your existing business operations.

If you’d like to learn more about these and other credit union solutions, request a consultation today.


Financial Inclusion & Its Role in Your CU Growth

 

Our sister site, IMS, recently featured a blog article discussing ways you can foster financial inclusion within your credit union.

Financial inclusion is part of a larger conversation taking place right now about how individuals and businesses are creating solutions and campaigns that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion for everyone who interacts with their brands.

CUs Are Perfect for Fostering Financial Inclusion

The history of credit unions is one that centers these institutions as a perfect partner in the financial inclusion conversation. Credit unions often serve areas that other banks and financial institutions don’t focus on. This includes marginalized and underserved communities in both urban and rural areas of the country.

As member-owned, not-for-profit businesses, credit unions have the luxury of already being positioned to create solutions that serve communities with specific cultures and religious affiliations, and even areas with specific financial needs.

CUs already work to promote local businesses and local charities. The conversation doesn’t have to be about catering to massive audiences and trying to implement a bunch of one-size-fits-all programs that can help everyone in small ways.

You can create spaces that highlight the cultures and perspectives that most represent and foster the diversity of the communities you’re already serving or are hoping to serve in the future.

Stabilizing Financial Tools

Many areas with diverse populations (both in culture as well as financial situation) will also benefit from the stabilizing financial tools that come from the implementation of financial inclusion practices.

These can be things like helping set up accounts so that those who are receiving government assistance like unemployment are able to access those funds quickly and record them accurately for tax and other financial planning purposes. It can also include things like calculator tools for car or mortgage payments, online self service forms, eStatements, online account opening, and Skip a Pay.

These stabilizing financial tools can help orient members who are still learning how to manage their finances, encourage others to enroll in programs that can help them pay down debt or increase their savings, and so much more.

It Starts with Your Staff

Your credit union’s financial inclusion initiatives should start at the employee level. If your staff members are stressed out about their financial situation, studies have shown that they are actually not as productive at work as employees who work in a place that has achieved most or all of their financial inclusion goals.

Close Gaps in Member Desires vs. CU Offerings

Many of the initiatives that are touted as perfect for fostering financial inclusion are often things that your credit union already offers. But the focus here should be on targeting what your underserved communities, like the unbanked and underbanked, would need from those offerings.

For example, your credit union may already have a successful rewards program that works for current members. However, if offering a different set of rewards or a range of choices in what those rewards can be used for, you can target the underserved segments of your communities.

This is a common business practice across all industries. It’s why we have such a big range of vehicles (from luxury sports cars to reliable and affordable sedans and minivans), restaurants, and other consumer-focused businesses.

Your members who are living paycheck-to-paycheck won’t likely be interested in saving for retirement or creating tons of lines of credit to open a business, but the opportunity to capitalize on your services shouldn’t be reserved solely for those in ideal financial situations.

Catering to the unbanked and underbanked means you have to evaluate why and where your current programs don’t meet these potential members’ needs.

Technology Fosters Financial Inclusion

One of the best tools for fostering financial inclusion is technology. Implementing user-friendly and other helpful digital programs, products, and services goes a long way toward closing gaps between your average members and your outliers.

When you are choosing and implementing these digital tools, it’s important to think about how your members can use them. Are there ways to personalize the process or tool? Customization is a great way to use a single tool in a myriad of ways in order to better serve those who are underrepresented in your member ranks.

Financial Inclusion Means Digital Inclusion

Navigating trending credit union topics have long-lasting implications for your CU. And that’s why you need cutting-edge solutions that have been tailored to credit union needs.

IMSI has created credit union-specific products and services that speak to your customers’ needs, no matter their background, financial situation, or culture. With tools like Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay+, Online Self-Service Forms, and Trial Balance+ readily available on your CU website, you can meet every potential member where they’re at.

Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


Post-COVID Member Habits

 

It feels like no matter what, COVID-19 isn’t done with us. Schools, small businesses, healthcare providers, credit unions – we are all scrambling to find the best ways to keep our livelihoods intact and our families safe. And as such, this has affected how we do things, from day-to-day activities all the way up to prominent life events and important company decisions. And member habits are not immune to the pandemic, just like credit unions and leadership and innovation practices weren’t.

We’ve recently seen statistics and reports laying out post-COVID member habits look like. And most of these reports say the shift in habits is here to stay. Let’s talk about it.

Digital Trends Are Dominating

The gigantic shift from in-person to digital member services was due, in part, to the pandemic. While it’s true that each generation is more and more tech-savvy, older credit union member habits were rooted in just that – habits. While check fraud has been on the rise for decades, older members seemed to still place more inherent trust in their paper checks than in an online account. When many of the face-to-face member options were suspended, older members had to adjust their approach to include more digital options.

In 2020, international credit union membership grew by more than 14 million members. Digital banking solutions will continue to be the most important trend that affects your credit union’s future and should be the basis for continuity and growth planning.

According to Aux, 60% of 2021 survey respondents said they believe member usage of branches will never return to pre-COVID levels.

Women and Young Members Are Biggest Growth Opportunities

The World Council of Credit Unions released a 2020 Statistical Report that showed North America as having the oldest average age for members, at 53 years of age. Worldwide, credit union members are over the age of 45. There is a lot to be said about creating more Gen Z-centered marketing programs and modernizing your credit union’s digital presence.

This report also underscored the importance of creating more opportunities and campaigns to increase the number of women as members and in leadership roles. In Africa, Latin America, and North America, men hold more than 60% of leadership positions. This could hurt future expansion if your credit union hopes to attract more women to become members.

Financial Habits Are Shifting Towards Savings

A recent survey from Aux done from May to June of 2021 highlights areas of change and focus as it pertains to post-COVID member habits and feelings.

When participants were asked what areas they felt consumers will spend more on, the most popular answers were home improvement and travel. And many credit unions have noticed that lending is much less popular than saving right now, which means future loan campaigns and marketing efforts will be successful when they focus on these popular spending categories.

Elevate Your Credit Union to Match Member Habits Post-COVID

When Aux respondents were asked, “how they felt their members’ needs and values have changed…common themes were faster access to money and more digital tools.”

Digital transformation isn’t an abstract idea, it’s a global movement, and your members are depending on you and your credit union to offer the best online solutions to help them navigate this new normal with less friction and wasted time. Online account opening, Skip a Pay, and web loan applications are some of IMS Integration’s greatest assets that help credit unions meet and exceed their members’ expectations.

Check out our website for more information, or contact us today.


4 Common Reasons Your Members Switch Banks

 

Part of knowing how to create a successful business continuity plan for credit union member retention comes from the knowledge that we gain from studying what makes your members choose to leave your financial institution for another. So here are some common reasons why your members switch banks.

Better Data Protection

The COVID pandemic has accelerated the digitization of a lot of businesses, and that has in turn increased cybersecurity risks. That is why, in a recent study done by Morning Consult, the number one reason respondents switch banks is because they are looking for better data protection.

The easiest way to combat members switching to another bank is to incorporate facts and messaging into your mobile and online banking marketing programs. Because even if their data is safe, members want to know the particulars.

Better Customer Service

Your members have a lot more information than previous generations. If they don’t like a product or service, no matter how long they have given their patronage to a business, they shop around for better options.

This is exceptionally true when it comes to customer service. Consumers are much savvier now, so if the customer service at your location isn’t up to their standards, they likely won’t hesitate to switch banks. In fact, a study from The Ascent reported that 97.18% of respondents ranked “quality of customer service” as either “somewhat” or “very important” when deciding where they’d open a new account. And as digital offerings become more and more accessible and user-friendly, it’s only getting easier for an unsatisfied member to switch banks.

Better Digital Features

According to Banking Journal, recent data suggests that bank customers under the age of 55 are much more willing to switch banks to take advantage of better digital features and services. And 37% of customers regardless of age said they are more likely to switch banks now than they were in the past, likely due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in banking and other industries.

Uncertain Financial Times

Our banking situation is often based on the same feelings we have in the summertime. It sounds crazy, but think about it: if you are at your son’s baseball game or a backyard barbecue, you want to park your chair somewhere in the shade. And for as long as the shade covers you, even while the sun changes position, you stay in that spot, even if there are bigger shade spots nearby.

Your banking situation is the same: if we are in pretty stable financial times, most people are fine with not needing to switch banks because nothing is making them think about making a switch. But if we are in the middle of economic instability, like a recession, people will be more apt to shop around and consider looking into the steps it takes to switch banks.

IMS Integration Can Help Build a Strong Foundation for Your Digital Credit Union Needs

IMS Integration is here to assist you so you can better serve your members. With our professional services, you can take advantage of custom web development, UI scripting, batch scripting, and custom electronic forms.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.