Embrace Change for 2020 to Experience Greater Outcomes

JMFA suggests three steps to increasing outreach and improving performance.

JMFA couple with advisor

A quick peek into what lies ahead for credit unions in 2020 reveals some formidable challenges, but also exciting opportunities for institutions that embrace change and remain focused on putting members first. By keeping an eye on the internal and external conditions that impact your service delivery capabilities and utilizing proven resources to implement consumer-friendly, compliant services, you can make the most of the opportunities that exist and improve the overall service experience for your members.

1. Know your member service needs
Though the economy remains stable, 41 percent of households in America would struggle if faced with an unexpected expense of just $400. What’s surprising is that many respondents to a research study indicated that they have the money in their checking or savings account. But it is already allocated for other expenses. In these situations, where do consumers turn for help?

Implementing programs that assist members with accomplishing their financial goals has always been part and parcel to the credit union movement. For Plus4 Credit Union in Houston, Texas, this includes providing a responsible option to help members cover occasional overdrafts.

While managing their program in-house, credit union leadership began to notice that member outreach efforts were lacking consistency. They were concerned about whether they were providing all members with options to meet their individual needs.

To address this concern, leadership upgraded to a fully disclosed overdraft solution. And by committing to a strategy that was supported by program implementation and maintenance experts, the credit union achieved a better level of across-the-board service consistency.

2. Make effective technology decisions
Going up against the big banks and fintech companies can seem overwhelming for community credit unions. But in today’s tech-driven world, effective utilization of cloud-based software and intelligent analytics is a major component for driving growth and creating a satisfactory member experience.

Another reason Plus4 management reached out to a professional overdraft provider was their inability to track overdraft program use and results effectively. Consequently, they weren’t able to precisely identify which members had opted into coverage for POS and ATM transactions.

After updating their overdraft program—powered by next generation software—they gained access to important program tracking and analytics in an easy-to-use format. This allowed program administrators to see who was participating in the program and helped identify which members they hadn’t spoken to about the service—or who might need a follow-up to help them use it more effectively.

3. Know when it’s time to ask for help
Consumer preference for mobile and online banking options is on the rise. But that doesn’t mean they are ready to give up the opportunity for face-to-face service when they have a question about their account or need financial advice.

In these situations, it is incumbent on credit unions to have knowledgeable staff members who can address member concerns and confidently explain the services that are available to meet their financial needs.

Plus4 employees gained insight into what makes an overdraft program valuable to members through professional training resources. They learned what elements had been missing from their program, as well as where they needed to focus in order to improve processes and procedures.

The credit union also took advantage of compliance expertise and advice to ensure they were fully compliant regarding consumer protection regulations or other oversight related to their overdraft strategy. Expert reviews of their member disclosures sealed their confidence that their program would avoid examiner scrutiny or possible civil litigation.

As technology and evolving consumer service trends continue to drive the way our industry operates, being open to change, and seeking expert advice and resources in order to retool outdated and obsolete solutions is essential for optimal performance. For Plus4 Credit Union, gaining professional insight into how to maintain a socially responsible, compliance-guaranteed overdraft program was in line with its mission “to invest in people to improve lives” and led to stronger member relationships and growth opportunities. 
Read the full Plus4 Credit Union case study.

Article by Mark Roe, Executive Vice President of National Sales for JMFA.