High tech and high touch

Omnichannel approach allows credit unions to strike the right balance in member experience.

May 28, 2024

With the rise of online retail, the influence of social media, and the impact of inflation, traditional banking has undergone a profound transformation. Members expect nothing short of seamless, personalized experiences, drawing glaring parallels to other popular industries.

According to the BAI Banking Outlook: 2024 Trends survey, consumers now benchmark their financial institution’s digital services against their favorite online retailers. The logic is clear. If we can easily order groceries or retail items online and have them delivered to our doorsteps or opt for same-day curbside pickup, it’s only natural to expect the same level of convenience and service when handling something as significant as our finances.

Consequently, credit unions find themselves at a crossroads—tasked with adapting their strategies to align with these evolving expectations while grappling with priorities such as member retention and growth, fluctuating loan portfolio performance, and rising operational expenses.

Insights from a recent MeridianLink survey indicate that 43% of our financial institution (FI) customers are prioritizing the development of seamless omnichannel experiences, while a substantial 64% anticipate a reduced role for in-person banking in the daily lives of their members.

This should ignite a sense of urgency, encouraging credit unions to explore the symbiotic relationship between digital progression, sustainable growth, and the implementation of an omnichannel banking strategy.

More than a buzzword

While "omnichannel" may seem like a buzzword in credit union circles today, the concept behind it has long been integral to meeting consumer demands for convenience and accessibility. Its significance gained momentum with the surge of e-commerce in the 2010s, and that only accelerated during the pandemic.

Over the years, this concept has evolved significantly, spanning from traditional distinctions between in-store and online purchases to practices like in-store pickup and "try-before-you-buy." Today, the essence of omnichannel retailing lies in creating a cohesive shopping journey across diverse touchpoints, enabling members to seamlessly navigate between physical and virtual storefronts without encountering any disruptions in their experience.

Since consumers expect the same level of seamless integration and convenience from their credit union, this is a clear call to action.

Embracing a hybrid approach

Thriving in a dynamic environment like this requires more than merely having an online banking platform. To meet member expectations and outshine the competition, credit unions must create a cohesive experience across all platforms and touchpoints, emphasizing the holistic member relationship.

And while technology plays a crucial role in this, it should complement rather than replace human interactions—a delicate equilibrium that resonates with the core mission of credit unions.

Members appreciate the convenience offered by automated tools, yet they also crave genuine human connection, especially when navigating complex issues. According to a study by Accenture, more than six in 10 consumers turn to branches to solve specific and complicated problems.

Striking the right balance between the two points of connection allows your members to enjoy the best of both worlds: the streamlined convenience of technology and the reassuring support of human guidance.

Let’s explore an example of what this could look like:

Meet Alex, a member of a local credit union who is looking to improve his financial well-being by consolidating debts. Alex logs into his credit union's online banking platform and initiates a personal loan application. While navigating through the application, Alex receives personalized prompts suggesting financial products and services tailored to his needs.

One of the suggestions is for a debt consolidation loan, which can consolidate multiple debts into a single, manageable payment with a lower interest rate compared to his existing credit card balances. Intrigued by this option, Alex clicks to learn more.

The online platform provides Alex with in-depth information about debt consolidation, outlining its benefits, eligibility criteria, and the application procedure in a clear and concise manner. Additionally, Alex notices the option to schedule a virtual consultation with a member service representative for further assistance.

During the virtual meeting, the member service representative assists Alex in finding the optimal loan terms to improve his financial situation. She begins by carefully reviewing Alex's financial details, including his current debts, income, and expenses. She takes the time to explain to Alex how different loan terms, such as interest rates and repayment periods, can impact his monthly payment amount and overall financial outlook.

Through this collaborative process, they are able to identify the optimal loan terms that align with his financial goals and budgetary constraints. Together, they calculate a monthly payment amount that is both manageable for Alex and helps him save money in the long run by reducing his overall interest costs. Impressed by the personalized guidance and expertise, Alex feels empowered to make informed decisions about his financial future, setting him on a path toward improved financial stability and well-being.

This scenario underscores the value of blending digital convenience with personalized member service, leveraging data-driven insights to enhance the member experience and drive sustainable growth. By offering customized solutions that meet members' needs, the credit union cultivates trust and loyalty, laying the foundation for long-term success and member satisfaction.

Enhanced engagement & sustainable growth

Members' behaviors and preferences have and will continue to evolve, demanding that credit unions adapt how they provide financial support alongside them.

To effectively address these dynamics, credit unions need solutions that seamlessly engage members across diverse platforms, catering to every demographic, and securing a distinct competitive advantage.

But you’re not alone on this journey.

Solutions like MeridianLink enable your credit union to seamlessly bridge physical and digital banking experiences across the entire lending lifecycle, providing members with an integrated journey across all touchpoints without disruptions or data loss.

The results can be tangible—boosted loan volume, improved deposit gathering, enhanced efficiency, and stronger member connections.

Contact us to learn more.

The materials available in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your own advisors with questions regarding the content herein. The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the individual authors and may not reflect the opinions of MeridianLink Inc.