2020 In Review for Credit Unions

 

The pandemic and other disasters caused a lot of uncertainty for your members and employees this year. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s important for leaders to review what they’ve learned so they can prepare for 2021. 

Here are the top insights credit unions have learned this year:

Members Need Digital Experiences

When the world locked down and started working remotely, members flocked to your credit union’s digital services. What was once seen as conveniences became needs, but your members still craved customization and personalization through your digital services and remote communication styles. They demanded improved digital experiences

In addition to increased phone volume and, potentially, the unveiling of video chatting at your credit union, your members increased the use of your website and mobile app. Website accessibility became even more valuable to serve more of your members.

As we’ve said before, “The digital member experience needs to be as close as possible to an all-encompassing, no limits, one-on-one discussion about the many products and programs your credit union offers.”

You may have seen a need to improve your software and digital infrastructure throughout this season. But those improvements don’t end with 2020. It’s imperative that credit unions continue to optimize the digital experience for their members on an ongoing basis. 

Related resources from our sister company, Information Management Solutions:

Cybersecurity is Increasingly Important

Credit unions across the nation, among other businesses, are finding that cybersecurity is critical for the well-being of their business and to keep their members’ data secure. 

We’ve known for a while that cybercriminals don’t discriminate who they attack and that not all cyber threats have malicious intent, but this year has made it even harder for smaller credit unions to keep up with the security demands placed on them, especially when transitioning to WFH environments. 

We previously summed this up as “Cybersecurity in 2020 is even more important than it was in past years because financial institutions can’t afford to be breached or hacked during these uncertain times.”

At the end of this year, one thing is clear: if your credit union hasn’t already, it’s time to strengthen your cybersecurity initiatives. 

Related resources from our sister company, Information Management Solutions:

Members Require a Better Experience

Your members want more. Their needs are always changing. As younger generations join credit unions and as time moves forward, member expectations change. This is especially true for 2020 as members’ needs changed practically overnight.

This year, credit unions helped their members use self-service options and embrace digital services. Your employees quickly felt the loss of that in-person community that is created within a normal credit union environment – and everyone on your team knew that many members felt the same loss.  

Customer service became less about benefits and more about personalizing the customer experience, even while working remotely. As we prepare for and head into 2021, it’s important to continue improving the member experience across the board. 

Related resources from our sister company, Information Management Solutions: 

Prepare for 2021

At the end of the day, your credit union is constantly working on ways to better serve your members. Members continue to be the most important focus for a credit union’s efforts, from the leadership team to each member service representative. For this reason, all of these insights that credit union leaders have learned over the year are important to take into 2021. 

Like you serve your members, our team at IMS Integration is here to serve you. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your credit union.


Lending Trends and Loan Applications: What’s Next for CUs?

Online lending and loan application practices have been around for a while, but many credit unions have not implemented or improved these processes. While COVID-19 mandates and social distancing practices may have pushed the tide toward more online lending, there are many reasons why it is here to stay and why there could be more changes on the horizon.

Digital Service Is Expected

Having reliable and expansive digital services available for members is a must for credit unions hoping to survive these tough times. Brick-and-mortar locations are becoming less and less frequented, which means you are losing members and customers if you aren’t implementing and expanding your online services often.

The current pandemic has pushed a lot of things to digital platforms out of necessity, but rather than seeing these as a temporary stop-gap measure, credit unions should consider adding things like online lending and loan application services to the website permanently.

Take Advantage of PPP Issues

Many small businesses applying for the Paycheck Protection Program loans had a hard time accessing the things they needed through big banks. Everyone was scrambling for the same funds and the lengthy wait times and delays cost a lot of small businesses their ability to keep their doors open, even at diminished capacity.

While this is nothing to celebrate, credit unions could use this as an opportunity to market themselves as a better alternative lender to the big banks and PPP. Customer service is always a strength that credit unions wield, so why not tout it during a time when lots of business owners are frustrated with their current bank’s lack of satisfactory service?

Travel Changes Mean Lending Changes

According to this CU Management article, some interesting loan trends may start to emerge as some areas lower their COVID-19 precautions due to dwindling case numbers.

There is a potential for air travel and hotel stays to decline and stay low for a time, even after COVID-19 has passed. This doesn’t mean that everyone will suddenly stop wanting to travel, but it does mean the mode of transportation could be changing.

RV and boat sales are expected to increase in the near future, as a safer travel alternative to flying, which means loans for these items will also increase – something for credit unions to think about in the coming months.

Credit Union Culture Is an Advantage

Though digital solutions often focus on taking out the human components, there are ways to incorporate the standard credit union customer service throughout the loan application process. Creating virtual inroads to your credit union by using your CU website to showcase both your commitment to helpful customer service and the ease of online loan applications can add value to potential customers.

Building custom lending processes that highlight the personal touch credit unions can offer is a great way to differentiate your services from the services your competitors have to offer.

IMS Integration Has You Covered

IMS Integration’s Online Loan Application white paper is a quick read and helps outline many of the benefits of creating web-based loan applications.

We also offer online self-service forms, which can be customized to meet your credit union’s and your customers’ needs.

We also have expertise with many software solutions for your credit union. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.


4 Trends Credit Union Customers Will Come to Expect

Neither big banks nor credit unions were prepared for the panic and major strategy pivoting that took place this year. COVID-19 has shaken nearly every industry to its core – so let’s focus on credit union solutions that will spell success in the future.

Identifying powerful trends can drive important changes that will set your credit union ahead of that elusive, ever-changing curve of tech, customer, and financial landscape changes. Modernization has not always been a top priority for credit unions, which typically have done more business with Gen X and older members.

However, at the start of the pandemic everyone rushed to their banks to take out as much cash as possible, in preparation for the shutdowns – but a few weeks later, according to UCCU CEO Steven Stapp, “suddenly all they want is the card.”

Customer needs are changing more rapidly, which means your credit union’s response has to keep up with these quick changes.

Focus on the Customers and Their Need for Great Contactless Experiences

Contactless experiences are an emerging trend that will likely stay around. Customers are moving away from credit cards, spending, and in-store shopping and now prefer debit cards, saving, and perusing online stores.

Giants like Amazon, who have all but perfected the customer experience, are skewing user preferences towards that model. Now, online customers are expecting easy, lightning-fast service with top tech.

This also means that real-time assistance with customer issues is a luxury no longer – it is a necessity for your Millennial and Gen Z customers, and it’s becoming a strong preference for older generations as they are learning to navigate this new digital-forward, post-pandemic world.

The challenge for credit unions moving forward will be tailoring their approaches and offerings to each CU’s region and specific demographics.

Meet Demand for Faster Payments

Fast service also means faster payments. With in-person visits being discouraged, the time between a transaction request and its posting or transfer can no longer be held up by days, as has been standard in the past.

“Differing member needs and expectations will impact each credit union’s choice of a payments solution, but noted there are four key experiences and procedures that all credit unions should keep in mind,” according to this recap of a PSCU white paper.

Those four things are:

  • Member experience and design – responsible for account controls, contact strategy, and instant issuance
  • Operational rigor – things like authorization strategies, general ledger practices, and liquidity management
  • Enterprise fraud management – changes to authentication, dark web monitoring, and real-time analytics
  • Compliance – includes consideration of changes to exception processing, payment scheme rules and regulations

Take Advantage of Outside Specialists

Credit unions and their employees should be focusing on customer-forward solutions, not on background tech and applications.

There are many third-party options for things like core hosting, payment delivery systems, and the like. Taking these burdens off your staff can free up time and energy for optimizing other areas of your member experience.

CUs Must Be Proactive to Beat Out Big Banks

Historically, credit unions have been slower to react than big banks when it comes to implementing new technology and processes. If your credit unions can adapt and innovate quickly, they can capture a lot of new customers. An essential part of this rapid implementation can be coupled with the previous trend – outsourcing intricate niche operations to companies with experience and optimized solutions.

Partner with IMS Integration

At IMS Integration, we can create tailored software solutions for your credit union. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.


The Importance of Online Self-Service Forms

The shift to contactless consumer solutions has not just shown how quickly businesses can adapt. It has also shown how important it is to have wide-ranging, quality self-service options.

Online banking, previously a word used to describe the ability to complete financial transactions, is evolving to reflect a fully digital customer experience. Funds transfers and bill payments were a great start, but more and more, users want to be able to perform 100% of their credit union tasks digitally.

Online self-service forms are a key component in that evolution.

From Payment Apps to Communication Apps

Credit union websites and mobile banking apps are changing. Previously, the main functions of this technology were for customers to view account balances or move money from one account to another.

With the COVID-19 crisis, solutions that we thought were years away had to be implemented virtually overnight. And rather than stopping that momentum, it’s time to harness that power to transition even more functions to online platforms.

The teller window experience has started going digital. Banking apps will need to start offering customer service digitally – using chat functions and online self-service forms.  

Self Service Forms – What Are They and What Can they Do?

As more complex member requests are processed digitally, having a wide array of online self-service forms is essential. In the past, one-on-one support has been the standard. But now, 81% of all customers prefer having the ability to “do it themselves” using online self-service over talking to a live representative when they encounter issues.

Online self-service is contact between a credit union and its members without involving a live credit union employee. Members can and want to take care of themselves using your credit union’s software and resources.

Self-service forms are customizable solutions designed to incorporate your credit union’s brand and image and to collect information required to fill member requests.

Some examples of tasks online self-service forms can help with include:

  • ATM/Debit – Address change, Delete Card, New Card, Reorder, Research Requests
  • Auto Transfer
  • CD Rollover Request
  • Checking Conversion
  • E-Certificate Request
  • HE Packet
  • Lost Card Notification
  • Reorder Checks
  • Savings Bond Request

Benefits of Self Service Forms

Online self-service forms offer a range of benefits for your credit union and your members.

It saves your customer service and support representatives’ time. By processing straightforward or standard requests through online self-service forms, your members are able to steer themselves through many processes that would previously have needed a credit union employee’s help.

Saving that time also means you are saving money. If you give your members the tools to answer their own questions and complete tasks online, your staff will be fielding fewer calls, tickets, and email requests.

Customization is key. Every one of your members wants to handle their information and their money differently. Having a good volume of online self-service forms can help your members do their banking the way they want to in regards to account details, payment methods, and more. Handing these tools to your customers also empowers them and gives them a sense of ownership and control over their finances.

It also keeps them engaged – which means traffic to your credit union’s websites and apps will increase. Driving traffic to your website also increases the chance that your customers will go on to explore further. You now have their attention on your site and they will view and take advantage of your new products or purchase additional services from you, as well as contributing to your online community by following news, events, and social media pages.

IMS Integration Can Help

At IMS Integration, we make online self-service forms to help create tailored software solutions for your credit union. Contact us to learn more about how our member-facing web solutions can help you.


4 Ways to Improve Member Experience

 

The community experience people love about credit unions is created by you – the people who work there. Trust is of the utmost importance when it comes to people’s finances and that trust comes from the service you provide and willingness to go above and beyond. One way to improve the experience for your members is to embrace innovative solutions in today’s banking world. Using data and customer feedback, you can customize the customer experience that has real value for members.

Embrace financial technology

New applications can help meet customer demand for on-the-go service and improve member satisfaction. Some financial technologies include mobile payment options, updating systems to new formats, biometrics and customer data for bank marketing. With new solutions on the market, credit unions can integrate new strategies for your customer base. While this is a more difficult time for some credit unions than others, COVID-19 has shown the need for digital infrastructure to keep members happy. 

Self-service

Whether it’s online shopping, streaming platforms or self-checkout at the grocery store, people want to be able to do things themselves on their own time. Today’s members are more self-reliant due to digital offerings that allow us to order products and services whenever we want. 

Credit unions should leverage opportunities to provide self-service support so members can find what they’re looking for without any bottlenecks. Provide FAQs, online products to execute transactions and easy access to support. It definitely becomes essential after business hours and the weekends. There’s no need to shuttle customers down a path to visit a branch, or make a lot of calls to answer questions and do business.

Segment member data for personalized experience

There is a massive amount of customer data that can be utilized to personalize experiences. From messaging and communication preferences to individualized interactions, members are more likely to feel valued with their engagement with your credit union. Plus, customer data helps better target products and services. Using a data-driven approach to understand members’ pain points will proactively solve problems.

Stay consistent across touch points

Providing consistent and up-to-date information across channels is a challenge for many financial institutions. But, it’s needed to remain competitive in today’s banking world. An increasing number of consumers are using non-bank financial companies for their financial needs. Design experiences around every touchpoint where your credit union interacts with members – email, phone, text, mobile devices, desktop, social media, etc. – and map out how to remove obstacles and deal with potential challenges if any arise.

Our team helps credit unions focus on serving its members by providing a suite of products and services that take the complexity of common and uncommon challenges. Learn more on how we can enhance your member experience.


Ensuring Accessibility on Your Credit Union’s Website

Litigation is still developing around what should be considered ADA compliant on a website. Testing those developments in the credit union industry is complex, and many credit unions don’t take the time to truly focus on all the areas of ADA compliance on their websites. The litigation around these standards isn’t solid as the DOJ has not set new regulations, so some companies may find themselves at the center of a lawsuit when they don’t provide properly accessible website features.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established a set of guidelines for accessibility known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines determine three different levels of conformance, from A (the lowest) to AAA (the highest). The WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines promote four principles. 

A website must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust:

  • Perceivable: Users must be able to perceive website elements. Text alternatives for non-text content, alternatives for video and audio content, captions, and more.
  • Operable: Make all “functionality” on a website available via keyboard (for example, some website users cannot use a traditional computer mouse).
  • Understandable: Language on a website should be noted in the HTML so assistive technologies can translate.
  • Robust: All content must be robust to be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, like assistive technologies. For example, markup languages should have proper nesting, start and end tags, no duplicate attributes. In short, HTML and CSS should be clean and tidy.

These are still voluntary technical standards as the Department of Justice has not officially established new regulations. 

Since your branch employees can still be the primary point of contact, you’ll want to ensure that your website remains a solid resource that can serve all customers. 

Part of being a more accessible credit union is finding the right partner to create an accessible experience on your website for all members. We don’t specifically test your website for ADA compliance, but we can improve the elements of your website so you can better reach and support your customers. 

For example, our online self-service forms offer a fully integrated, customizable solution that incorporates your credit union’s brand and image. This fast, secure interface also provides a streamlined user experience that will help to keep your members happy. In addition, we offer custom web development to service any of your unique needs. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.