Harness the Power of Credit Union Transparency

 

Credit unions are, in many ways, the antithesis of big bank operations. The goal of most credit unions is to integrate with the communities they operate in and help serve and educate their members in a bid to be more accessible than larger, corporate-feeling financial institutions.

At the heart of that differentiation is the transparency credit unions choose to have with their members. There’s no need to hide the “secret formula” from the world – a credit union’s job is to share the ins and outs of the financial industry with everyone who has a willingness to learn.

Here are some of our favorite ways you can harness the power of credit union transparency.

Why Credit Union Transparency Is So Important

Many professionals make the mistake of thinking that transparency within their business just means being overly honest – you share even the most mundane details about your operations with your members. But that’s not it.

When you think of credit union transparency, imagine showing your membership base all of your mission, vision, and values, as well as a demonstrable list of how your credit union is consistently working to meet those goals and embody those core tenants. So, how do you create that transparency and make it authentic and valuable for your members?

Share Your CU’s Unique Traits

Credit unions are far more transparent with their business practices than any big bank or other financial institution by virtue of the publication of your credit union’s general information. From business plans to quarterly performance and investment success or failure, credit unions are beholden to their members because the business is almost always owned by those members.

Since everyone is given a stake in the credit union and its success, you’ve already got a great framework for legitimate business transparency.

From there, you can share other unique aspects of your credit union. Do you serve a specific community or industry? Are there other programs that allow your credit union to stand out among the crowd? Lean into these aspects and use them to create a transparent communication line between you and your members.

Financial Education is Key

We are all intrigued when an expert in their field asks something like “Do you want to know my secret?”

Credit unions are the first ones to share their insider expertise with members, and that transparency is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

Cultivating a financial education program (or multiple programs) boost your business transparency while also showing member and non-members alike that you aren’t gatekeeping your financial planning knowledge, you are willing and able to share it.

Lending Trust is Waning

Because of predatory student loan practices and payday lending, many of today’s borrowers and potential borrowers are very skeptical about the loan process.

Because so many people have seen the negative effect a bad loan can have on someone’s livelihood for years or even decades, it’s more important than ever to focus your credit union transparency on sharing helpful information about the lending process.

There are many reputable credit unions sourcing and creating loan programs ethically and in a way that benefits both the credit union and the borrower. It’s your job to prove to your prospects and your members that you aren’t taking part in less-than-reputable lending practices.

Faster and Clearer Transactions

Big words and complicated programs aren’t what your members are looking for. They want helpful insights given to them in ways they can understand, and they want to be able to manage their finances quickly and easily.

Impressive technology isn’t about creating a complex and intricate solution – it’s about creating real change or momentum with as little effort and friction as possible. This is why your communication efforts with your members are so important.

You have hundreds or thousands of people using your services every day. Chances are, they can give you some great insight into what’s working and what’s not. Make sure those lines of communication are open and easy to access.

Boost Your Credit Union Transparency with Elegant, Member-Facing Solutions

The more you can show your members what you do, the easier it is for them to believe your statements about being transparent. IMS Integration has several member-facing solutions that can boost your credit union transparency, including Online Self Service Forms, Online Courtesy Pay, and Make a Statement.

Communication is a key component of transparency, and IMSI can help you share insights and offer vital resources to your members anytime, anywhere.


Credit Unions & the Great Resignation

 

The Great Resignation has not been easy for credit unions. And much like the rest of the country, your credit union must be looking for some explanations and solutions to the problems caused by the Great Resignation.

Your credit union staff is quite often part of the “face” of your CU’s brand. And as the Great Resignation and its effects linger, it can reflect poorly on that brand if you are unable to keep your branches staffed well. As inflation and cost of living expenses rise, it is less likely that your credit union is a “bad employer” and more likely that you aren’t marketing your positions in an optimal way, among other things.

Let’s talk about what the Great Resignation is and how to create targeted solutions to keep credit union staff issues to a minimum.

The Great Resignation: What It Is and What It Taught Us

In 2021, nearly 50 million people left their jobs voluntarily. This number is 12 million higher than the previous year.

What caused this mass exodus? Here are some of the top reasons cited by those who quit:

  • Burnout (40%)
  • Organizational changes (34%)
  • Lack of flexibility (20%)
  • Instances of discrimination (20%)
  • Contributions and ideas not being valued (20%)
  • Insufficient benefits (19%)

The stress from the pandemic – including many companies calling their staff back from remote work to in-office, loss of employees due to COVID, increased responsibilities, etc. – are all contributors to the burnout that many people are feeling in their workplace.

And credit unions are not exempt from these things. Like many businesses, most CUs can’t support 100% of their workforce going full-time remote, and it’s up to individual institutions to decide how to handle cost of living hikes and inflation issues.

However, when you look at the list of reasons why people are leaving in droves, a lot of it comes down to employees not feeling supported by the businesses they work for and support.

And while this information may seem negative, it’s also worth noting that the financial services sector actually experienced the Great Resignation less significantly than other industries. However, the number of resignations is still outweighing the number of new hires, even now, though that trend seems to be slowing the further we get into 2022.

Hiring & Recruiting: Jumpstart Your CU’s Search

If you are looking to increase your credit union staff numbers, or you have vacant positions to fill, we’ve got some tips.

Right now, posting your open positions on your website and your favorite job boards isn’t enough to attract the candidates you’ll want. Your hiring approach has to be more active.

You can use those same job boards to seek out specific people or to search for individuals who may be gainfully employed but looking for other opportunities. For example, LinkedIn lets people note on their profile if they are open to other job opportunities, even if they aren’t actively looking to change jobs.

You also need to expand your search. Though each position may have preferred skills, it’s important to seek out and evaluate potential candidates who don’t fit all the criteria on your list.

When you think about the ideal person you’d like to fill a specific position, what sort of attributes are most important? Do they need to be personable? Should they have high problem-solving capabilities or be great at written communication? Many of these attributes are tantamount to, say, their experience working in the financial sector, but they are often overlooked until after the interview process has already begun.

Offering sign-on bonuses or other perks including higher wages that are consistent with or better than your area competitors is helpful, too. But these things are only so important to prospects, especially for businesses with staffing issues based on workload, company culture, or other more systemic problems.

Evaluate Your Expenses

Much of the effect of the Great Resignation for credit union staff was seen in the resignation of frontline workers including tellers and other employees who work directly with your members. And while this can be frustrating, it also offers a great opportunity for your credit union to see what improvements can be made to ease the burden on front-facing roles by implementing new processes or investing in new technology.

The Great Resignation is also a great opportunity for your branches to evaluate other expenses. There are likely ways to reduce costs without reducing your staff. For example, IMSI has a host of credit union solutions that take some of the more repetitive or preliminary member-facing tasks and creates online solutions that you can build directly into your CU’s website or app offerings.

Web Solutions for Busy CU Leaders

When you are having staffing issues, the last thing you want to do is make things harder for yourself or your current credit union staff. That’s why IMSI concentrates on bringing you customized, high-quality solutions for your online forms.

Our online self-service forms can collect information for you and even enable member-led self-service request fulfillment. IMSI can build dozens of forms that can ease the burden on your staff and place some of the power back into your member’s hands.

Are you interested in learning more about IMSI’s self-service forms? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


Boost Member Loyalty for Your Credit Union

 

Retention and loyalty are the main foundation of any customer- or member-based business. And credit unions are no different. And lately, reputation and online presence are determining factors in the loyalty conversation. Here are some tips for boosting member loyalty.

Get Creative with Loyalty Programs

Your loyalty program will be as successful as you make it. Members are constantly looking for the best deals, especially when it comes to financial opportunities like lending, saving, and debt consolidation. 61% of financial institution members would prefer to manage their loyalty benefits through a mobile wallet.

The first thing you need to do to boost member loyalty is to make sure your loyalty program accounts for new and developing digital solutions that have come about either by the natural progression to online services or through the rapid digitization of many industries, as caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Top priorities for your revamped loyalty program should include:

  • Streamlined services: lending, FAQs, user-friendly apps and banking processes
  • Optimized mobile solutions and capabilities
  • Application checklists, reminders, and estimation tools (mortgage, personal loans, web loan applications, and more)

Personalization

Social media, promotional emails, Starbucks coffee cups – people like their consumer experiences to feel personal, not transactional or mass-produced. And credit unions are tailor-made for this. If you can offer similar products and services as big banks but do it in a way that feels significant to your members as individuals, loyalty to your credit union and your financial brand will increase.

Creating authentic conversations and transactions with your members can help them commit to loyalty programs and campaigns. And data and automation can help make the personalization process more efficient and error-free.

Reach Out to Struggling Members

One way to increase loyalty is to offer more assistance and education to your members who are struggling financially. Adding extra classes or online resources that cater to those in the lowest income brackets is a great way to do this.

If you have members who are in arrears, your credit union’s leaders should spend some time brainstorming and implementing processes that can help your most vulnerable members create some momentum for future financial growth and success. This is especially true with Millennial and Gen Z members, who are ultra-focused on paying down debt and achieving financial independence from student loans and other expenses incurred in early adulthood.

Optimize Your Technology

Rapid service and after-hours access are things your members have come to expect in this increasingly digital world. Leveraging technology on all fronts will help your members remain loyal because they know your credit union is at the forefront of innovative solutions.

Technology optimization can mean creating and revamping mobile apps, including new computers or tablets in your employees’ workflows, and creating contactless touchpoints that could include kiosks in your branches, or other ATM or online services that can enhance your member experience.

Boost Loyalty with Customized CU Solutions

A robust digital presence is instrumental to the success and future of your credit union. IMS Integration has a number of elegant member-facing web solutions for your credit union, including Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay, Online Self Service Forms, and Trial Balance.

Request a consultation today for more information about these and other credit union solutions we offer.


5 Benefits of Finance Automation

 

Finance automation technology can be scaled – it can be all-encompassing, or it can help your credit union increase the efficiency in some processes so your employees can spend more time serving your members. Let’s talk about the five benefits of financial automation.

Fewer Errors

When automation is done right, it creates fewer errors than manual data entry or calculation performance. But rather than replacing your staff with automation, most finance automation is meant to be guided by individuals, keeping that human touch, and then set free to perform as it should, in the background.

Higher Consistency

Every employee is different, and no matter how hard you try, each individual will handle situations and complete tasks in the way that best suits them. This is great for inclusivity, but not so great for processes that should be standardized. With finance automation, you can create greater consistency through standardization.

Increases Information Utility

When you have automated real-time data collection, you can increase information utility. This allows you and your teams to recognize patterns and address issues much sooner than if you had your employees trying to collect and aggregate this data by themselves.

Decreases Fraud Risks

We all want to believe the best in people, but even innocent mistakes can have a devastating impact on your credit union.

Fraud risks, especially those tied to online and electronic activities, are continuing to increase. And certain innocuous employee habits can leave gaps in security big enough for fraudsters and cybercriminals to take advantage of.

Finance automation, by creating greater consistency and reducing the potential for errors all while minimizing human contact with the mechanics of a standardized process, can help decrease fraud risks by limiting the number of people and the time they are involved in a process.

Saves Time

As with most automation, finance automation saves time. It saves your employees and members time when it comes to running the programs and collecting the data. It saves you and your managers time because you don’t waste so much time trying to identify what went wrong, and where, and who.  

Great Examples of Places to Implement Finance Automation

Spend Journal recently shared some finance automation opportunities, and we wanted to list a few here:

  • Payroll: If you think no one cares about a small mistake, try missing someone’s payroll check.  Automated payments, both internally and from member to credit union, are a perfect place to implement finance automation, and payroll is a great place to start. 
  • Banking Statements: IMSI’s Make a Statement service can help you with that. Create e-statements and e-notices, and even consolidate multiple statements to the same vendor automatically.

IMS Integration Wants to Help Lower Fintech Friction

IMS Integration is here to assist you so you can better serve your members. With technology solutions tailored specifically to credit unions, IMSI can offer great services that your members will love, like Skip a Pay. You can set it up for member use, for staff use, and it is fully integrated with your core system.

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


Credit Union Leadership & Innovation in 2021 and Beyond

 

Innovation is often seen through the lens of cutting-edge technology, but the cornerstone of anything innovative is the creativity to start or improve existing ideas and processes. And credit unions across the U.S. were able to grow their membership by 2.8% between year-end 2019 and September 2020. Far from the perception of antiquity that seems to stick to them, credit union leadership and innovation are paving the way to a bright future.

Fostering Creativity through Leadership

If innovation stems from creativity, you need creative leaders in your credit union. The role of a leader is said to account for 67% of the influence in determining if the organization will be creative.

But how does a leader foster creativity? In short, you foster an environment where creativity can thrive. Your leaders should be trained in creativity methods – prioritize the idea of showing your teams that creative ideas are more than just encouraged, they are tested and executed. Creating a space that allows for feedback and testing on new ideas shows your managers and employees that they have the power to affect change on every level. And once your staff feels like they can be vocal, they’ll continue to contribute to those conversations.

Spearhead a Competition

Sometimes, you can find creativity when you think outside the box. Many companies, large corporations with even larger social media followings, often run contests to drum up creative taglines or content ideas. You can do that within your own teams, too.

Rather than simply relying on your marketing team to shoulder all creative burdens, invite other departments and create a friendly competition out of creating a new logo, tagline, or advertising campaign. Idea-based competitions can take many forms and garner surprising results.

Don’t Give Up

This embracing of creative ideas requires a fair amount of buy-in, as well. When you take on these new ideas, you have to keep them in place. Most new programs need time to be implemented, and then understood and accepted. This is especially true if your new process also involves your members.

Investing in innovative ideas means investing in the time it takes to see if the change will net a positive outcome.

Creative Problem-Solving Process

Practice makes perfect, and CUManagement offers a 4-step creative problem-solving process:

  1. Clarify the problem
  2. Generate ideas. The more, the better.
  3. Develop solutions from the best of your ideas.
  4. Plan for action.

Once you’ve created a process that works for you and your teams, you can build on these 4 steps and tailor it to give you the best outcomes.

Embrace Failure

Some of your innovative ideas will fail. It’s inevitable. And how you and your team leaders handle that is paramount to fostering a culture of innovation.

When those failures come, it’s important to practice humility and forward-thinking. According to Meistertask, when team members consider their boss a humble leader, this creates “psychological capital,” which increases feelings of hope, optimism, and resilience.

Like any team effort, focusing on solutions and adjustments over blaming or apologizing allows for growth and continued momentum.

Professional Services for Innovative Credit Unions

IMS Integration knows credit unions from the ground up. We have a range of professional services that are customized to you and your credit union. From custom web development, to UI and batch scripting, to custom electronic forms, IMSI can help you implement innovative solutions that will better serve your members and create opportunities for your business.

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


Tips for Re-Evaluating Disaster Recovery Post-COVID

 

Disaster recovery planning is an essential part of every business. But what happens when a disaster strikes that is not only bigger than anything you ever needed to feasibly plan for? And what happens when the disaster is felt on a global scale? Let’s discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we think about business continuity.

Here are some tips for re-evaluating credit union disaster recovery post-COVID.

Evaluate for Gaps in Your Plan

CUInsight shared some great lessons learned from the pandemic, like identifying gaps in your disaster recovery plans. As your business continuity plan ages, it’s vital to evaluate and identify gaps that have formed in your plans. The example they use includes the idea that remote work was likely a small facet of your BCP before the pandemic, but that caveat comes with a lot of gaps.

These gaps include making sure you have a supported and tested VPN that can do the heavy lifting you need when your workforce has to perform their duties remotely. That also means making sure all employees have their own laptops and other required technology in their home or remote workspace.

Another gap you may need to fill in the future is the idea that, while many businesses can operate fully remotely, your credit union may need to identify and understand which employees need to work part-time or full-time in-house. You could create hard and fast rules, or just outline general expectations from different departments or work areas.

Prioritize Communication

Communication was a unique challenge during the pandemic, but having to shift or restore communication channels is not a new idea in the world of disaster recovery. Your employees need to know where insights and directives will come from if primary communication lines are disrupted.

Likewise, your members, vendors, and other outside collaborators will also need to be able to easily find updates on the state of your business, whether that is a messaging system in online banking portals, additional website landing pages dedicated to sharing updates, or even social media channels. You want to make sure your credit union has a clear and consistent plan for sharing changes with the people you are normally interacting with.

Increase Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery

The word “disaster” often calls to mind a natural disaster – hurricane, tornado, things like that. But cybersecurity is becoming increasingly critical, as more and more business and personal transactions are taking place online.

Cybercriminals never stop evolving, and your business continuity plan for dealing with a cyber threat shouldn’t either. Another layer of protection you might want to consider for your credit union disaster recovery is cyber insurance – but be careful, not all insurance policies are created equal so you’ll want to do some good research before settling on any solutions.

Prep for Future Pandemics

As COVID cases recede in the United States, it’s easy to imagine that this pandemic was one-and-done. Unfortunately, new strains are being discovered, and other countries around the globe are facing a myriad of increasing and decreasing case counts as areas reopen and then close again. Consider evaluating or amending sick leave policies and protocols for any future outbreaks, COVID or otherwise.

Similarly, consider retaining and updating any communication channels you have in place for spreading legal and other regulatory changes. The last thing you want is for your credit union to be non-compliant with current laws, regulations, and ordinances pertaining to the pandemic.

And lastly, remember this: flexibility in policy doesn’t mean the policy is no good. Anticipate that there will be exceptions to the rules and plans you set forth, and come up with strategies to handle them fairly and as transparently as possible.

Upgrade Your Credit Union Disaster Recovery

IMS Integration offers a range of professional services – customized to you. From custom web development to UI and Batch scripting, our team is here to make sure you never miss a beat.

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


Community Outreach during National Small Business Week

 

2021’s National Small Business Week is coming up. From May 3 to May 9, communities come together to highlight the importance of entrepreneurs and small business owners across the US. And this is also a great time for your credit union to perform some targeted community outreach.

Let’s discuss some tips and ideas for celebrating small businesses with your credit union resources.

Why Celebrate National Small Business Week?

Credit unions are (or should be) seen as more than just banks – they are financial institutions with close ties to the communities they serve.

Recently, it’s been reported that credit unions are losing out on opportunities to serve small businesses, due to the rise of fintech like Square and Stripe and larger institutions’ increasingly focused efforts to capture the small business owner’s attention.

But credit unions are uniquely positioned to help small businesses, which means you should be using that positioning to your CU’s advantage!

Celebrating National Small Business Week is a great way to build relationships with local entrepreneurs.

Sponsor an Awards Competition or Spotlight

Small businesses need many things, but one of the biggest things they need is quality “air time”. They need people and businesses in the area to talk about their brand, products, and services to help spread the word and drum up more business. And that’s never been more crucial than right now.  

Millions of small businesses closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID pandemic, and entrepreneurs need someone to start talking about them again. Credit unions are a great partner in this effort.

There are many ways your credit union can highlight local businesses, and during National Small Business Week, one great way to do this is to host a spotlight or awards competition for local businesses. Businesses can sign up to participate or be nominated by a social media comment or event share, and then you can use a preferred platform to spotlight each business and its purpose. After the spotlight, you can also create polls or contests to let your community members participate in choosing the winners. You can use the Small Business Association’s list of awards as a starting point or you can make up your own!

Create a Tradeshow or Event

This one is a bit more time-consuming, but your credit union can also sponsor or host an event where you allow small businesses to set up a booth for a small fee.

Not only does this generate business for you and the participating businesses, but it’s also an engaging way to promote your credit union’s brand as community-centered. Attendees will associate your credit union with fun “shop local” initiatives, thus increasing the visibility of your brand.

Host a Panel or Discussion Group

Small business owners often feel like their concerns aren’t heard in the same way that big businesses are. To combat this, you can host a roundtable, discussion group, or dinner event for local entrepreneurs.

This gives small business owners a chance to network with you and other area businesses and share their struggles, triumphs, and insights with like-minded individuals. It also shows these businesses that you and your credit union are open to building meaningful relationships that will benefit your business and theirs.

Upgrade Your Software to Compete with the FinTechs

Big businesses aren’t the only ones that can upgrade their software and score more customers. IMS Integration is dedicated to helping you bridge the gap so you can compete with the big guys while still staying focused on serving the little guys in your community.

IMS Integration is here with a full range of credit union software solutions to take your problem-solving effectiveness to the next level.

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


Credit Union Leadership Tips for Improving Performance and Problem-Solving

 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” –Phil Jackson

Credit unions, like many businesses, are coming off one of the toughest years in modern history. To get through this and start moving forward with some solid momentum this year, let’s talk about some credit union leadership tips to improve performance and solve problems.  

Separate the Problems

There are two different types of problems: ones you solve and ones you can disregard.

As a leader, your employees should come to you with potential issues, but it’s important to be able to distinguish which ones you need to devote time and resources to, and which ones are isolated incidents or one-off problems that aren’t likely to crop up again.

Just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it is a problem that needs to be solved. A problem is only worth your time if it can be assessed in context with your goals and you determine it will inhibit you from reaching those goals.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goals by Hyper-Focusing on Damage Control

There are tons of examples of the 80/20 rule in business, which states that 80% of all business success is going to be attributed to 20% of its processes.

But if your only focus is damage control or problem-solving, the 20% of the processes that are necessary for your credit union to grow isn’t being completed.

One way to change this trajectory is to practice your own 80/20 strategy – encourage your employees to spend 80% of their time doing their regular job duties, and allow for 20% of their time to be focused on brainstorming and implementing new ways to grow your business.

Losing sight of your goals is just as bad as not having any in the first place.

Embrace a Targeted Approach

There are always more problems. Even if you have a perfectly trained staff that never makes mistakes, you will still encounter issues.

And expanding your resources doesn’t always help. Kristen Cox, consultant and former Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget in the State of Utah, talks about the “seductive seven” – common ineffective tactics that organizations often use when responding to problems.

The Seductive Seven are:

  •  More Technology
  • More Data
  • More Strategy
  • More Training & Communication
  • More Reorganization
  • More Accountability & Assigning Blame
  • More Money

These things are seductive in that these things often pull focus and allow leaders to fixate on these shiny solutions rather than creating space for any actual problem-solving.

Kristen goes on to say that increasing performance means leaders must “start by stopping.” Your credit union’s resources are not infinite. So, rather than employing lots of quick fixes and buzzword action plans, you must devote your time to training your staff to recognize when to stop doing things that aren’t working.

It seems counterintuitive at first, but success comes not just from doing things that are helpful, but also from ceasing activities that don’t return good results, axing technology solutions that don’t work for you, and amending processes to weed out redundancies.

Implement Software Solutions That Work

As we said, it’s not about implementing more technology – it’s about implementing the right technology. And IMS Integration is here with your credit union-specific problem-solving software.

IMS Integration is here with a full range of credit union software solutions to take your problem-solving effectiveness to the next level.

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


Financial Preparedness Approaches for the Future

 

Financial preparedness meant something like a “rainy day” stash or “disaster fund” before the events of 2020. Many credit union members were lucky enough not to have worried about what it takes to be financially prepared. If they don’t live somewhere with extreme weather, many thought financial preparedness plans didn’t really apply to them.

And then a pandemic happened, and nearly everyone in the USA and the world was forced to take a hard look at their financial situation because the stability we thought we had was gone.

Credit unions and members alike should be looking forward with a renewed appreciation for financial planning. Let’s discuss some important financial preparedness approaches for post-pandemic life.

Have a Plan B

In 2020, many workers experienced a sharp decrease in wages due to layoffs, furloughs, and quarantine-related shutdowns or capacity limitations. While we hope never to live through something like that again, it’s important to realize how desperate many families’ situations were before the pandemic hit.

According to CNBC, “roughly 1 in 3 households had trouble making ends meet right before the coronavirus pandemic.” 33% of the population were struggling to keep up with their bills in a normal financial climate, and that number only grew as the pandemic stretched on.

That’s why having a plan B is essential. If you encourage members to start now, it’s much easier to get through rough patches when you’ve been stockpiling funds a few dollars at a time. Encouraging members to create separate savings accounts for emergencies is a helpful way to teach financial preparedness in a way that is relatable.

That emergency fund can be used for sudden changes in job status or pay, sudden expenses like replacing a totaled car, or paying for medical emergencies. When you phrase it as a series of probable bumps in the road, rather than an “in case a tornado or hurricane wipes out our house”, emergency funds start to make more sense to your members and become a valued service and insight you are offering them.

As for natural disasters specifically, it’s also good to inform credit union members that they should keep a small stash of cash at home, in the event that power in the area goes out and ATM withdrawals are not an option.

Budget What You Have

Budgeting is an elusive concept to many Americans. In fact, an Intuit survey showed that 65% of Americans have no clue how much money they spent last month.

But that doesn’t mean you should jump right into a hyper-detailed budgeting strategy. Just like learning to read, you don’t start with an entire book. You move through each letter, and then on to words, sentences, paragraphs, and so on.

Incorporating budgeting strategies a little at a time can help your members learn basic financial preparedness and planning, which can improve their financial stability little by little. Younger generations have previously been reported as not financially responsible, and you can’t teach that responsibility overnight. Creating budgets for small things, like groceries or streaming services can help members recognize and identify areas in their life that could use a good budgeting once-over.

Mitigate Debt

The COVID pandemic caused more than 51% of adults with credit card debt to add to their balances from March 2020 to January 2021.

In leaner times, financial goals should shift from growth and expansion – new house, newer car, impulse purchases on Amazon – to debt mitigation. If credit card debt is trending upwards, it’s important to revisit that budget, maybe cut out a few of the less essential expenses and make some goals to pay off credit card debt. For Millennials and Gen Z, offering these insights through your credit union is a great way to appeal to this very debt-conscious demographic.

Ensure Quick & Easy Access to Financial Information and Services

As a result of the pandemic, more people are using online banking services than ever before. Credit unions that wish to see success in a post-pandemic world need to be implementing and troubleshooting more digital services and offerings so as to keep up with the demand that is now present for these contactless banking options.

IMS Integration is here to help you optimize your credit union’s website with Web Loan Applications, Online Account Opening, and so much more.

Contact us today for more information about our credit union solutions.


How to Improve Credit Union Customer Service

 

We’ve talked previously about trends credit union customers will come to expect and ways to improve member experience in previous blog posts. But a lot has changed in the last year. So let’s take a look at some new ways to improve credit union customer service.

Focus on Financial Well-Being

Credit unions are very community-oriented and collaboration-focused. And as more young adults come of age in these financially uncertain times, they don’t just need a bank, they need a financial institution that can also act as a teacher or guide.

Millennials and Gen Z spend money and view debt differently than older generations. And many times, they look to the internet for answers. So why not use your credit union’s online presence and customer approach to provide those answers for them? You can build trust with younger demographics by positioning your credit union as not only a bank, but also a partner throughout their financial lives.

By focusing on helping your members pursue financial well-being, you can not only provide better customer service, but you can also see what trends and growth areas exist in your immediate market.

This is also a strategic way to invite more small businesses to bank with you as well. Often, owners of small businesses are forced to be their own supervisor, employee, accountant, marketer, and so much more. If you have resources and experienced advisors available, SMBs will see that as a huge advantage.

Leverage APIs

An application programming interface – or API – is a “code that allows two application systems to connect and share information with each other. You can see some quick and easy examples in this CUInsight article.

Leveraging APIs helps credit unions compete with the big banks and their multi-million dollar tech resources. APIs allow your CU to save time and money on significant website and app improvements by using pre-built programs to help drive engagement and growth.

Listen to Your Employees

Being a credit union leader often involves making hard decisions, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it in a vacuum. You have dozens of experienced employees who are your boots on the ground every day. One of the best ways to improve credit union customer service is to listen to the struggles of your staff.

If there are systems or procedures that have not been updated or optimized in a while, talk to the people who use them every day. Ask them what they struggle with, and what their members are struggling with. Having an open-door policy on process improvements can allow your credit union to keep moving forward with incremental changes, rather than forcing shutdowns or huge company-wide strategy overhauls in the coming years.

Take Advantage of Testing

You’ve heard it before: no two customers are alike and no two businesses – even two branches of the same credit union – are alike. Just because a messaging system isn’t well-received at branch A doesn’t mean the system should be scrapped or replaced. It means you should do some testing to find the reasons certain programs are working at each branch of your credit union.

Testing, especially after the year of rapid technological change we just had, is paramount to the success of your credit union. Some of the temporary solutions you’ve implemented may be great tools or resources to keep for the long haul. And maybe others need some refining before they can be considered an asset to your business.

Offer Great Online Resources and Services

Fintech partnering is a big trend right now, and it’s probably going to stick around for a while. Finding companies that can help you provide valuable services online is a great, cost-effective way to improve customer service.

IMS Integration is here to help you optimize your credit union’s website with Web Loan Applications, Online Account Opening, and so much more.

Contact us today for more information about our credit union solutions.