It has always been important for CUs to understand members’ banking habits and adapt to their needs, but doing so has become all the more imperative during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many CUs are doubling down on their efforts to digitize their services in a secure manner. One such player is Arizona Federal Credit Union (Arizona FCU), which is working to offer improved access to its 130,000 member-owners. The majority of Arizona FCU transactions are being made either digitally or via drive-thru due to statewide stay-at-home orders, said Dana Vas Nunes, senior vice president of member services, in a recent interview with PYMNTS.
The 83-year-old CU, which has 16 branches in the metro Phoenix area and holds $1.9 billion in assets, is also reviewing some of its processes amid the coronavirus pandemic, such as the requirement for signing documents in person.
“When we received the stay-at-home orders, we had to adapt to reduce the need for members to come to our branches or drive-thrus. We quickly changed many of our procedures to enable members to use DocuSign to provide electronic signatures from home,” Vas Nunes said. “This turned out to be a win-win for our members and our staff.”
Adapting To Changes
Establishing methods that replace face-to-face banking transactions with secure alternatives is an important need during these changing times, Vas Nunes noted. These solutions are playing a particularly important role as bad actors ramp up their attacks to capitalize on chaos and confusion arising from the ongoing pandemic.
Adopting such solutions is part of a continual improvement process that the locally owned, not-for-profit credit union has embraced in recent years, taking a data-driven approach to better understand how its members prefer to bank.
“We’re developing personas based on demographics and other types of data we gather about our members, including the products they have with us,” she said. The credit union uses member journey mapping for individual personas to identify various accounts’ and services’ different needs as well as members’ preferred channels to do business. Arizona FCU also uses service blueprinting techniques to assess and improve efficiencies of all the exchanges made between members, front-line staff members, back-office staff members and credit union systems.
“A digital-loving millennial, John, searches our website to find the type of account he wants and chooses to open it online,” Vas Nunes said. “As we map out John’s process, we go step by step to examine what he’s trying to accomplish, how easy it is and how he’s feeling.”
This helps the CU better understand the real experience members have, whether they are making transactions or seeking to access products or resolve payments issues, she said.
“From a strategy standpoint, this lets us understand their needs and preferences,” Vas Nunes added.
A Data-Driven Approach To Improving Members’ Experiences
These data-driven approaches are also key to understanding members’ pain points and proactively solving problems. If the proper information on how to make a payment for a loan product is not available on the CU’s website, or is not readily available in members’ online banking accounts, it can cause frustration or an uptick in inquiries to the call center, she said. Once the CU has identified any pain it can improve existing procedures or build new processes that better serve members.
“When members first join, and as they complete various transactions with us or open a new product, we have the capabilities to survey them based on their experience,” Vas Nunes said. “We look at metrics like net promoter scores, member satisfaction scores, member effort scores and a wealth of commentary on what they are happy or not happy about.”
While ensuring that customers are satisfied with the CU’s services is important, it is also critical to enable access to these services across different channels, especially in the face of the ongoing pandemic. Members can begin conversing about complex transactions, such as a mortgage, by phone or at one of the CU’s Business and Home Loan Centers, she explained.
“From there they may enter the application via the website, since they’ll need to gather a lot of financial information at home,” Vas Nunes said.
Members may have additional choices for easier transactions, such as opening a checking or savings account.
“A 40-year-old who’s had these types of accounts for 20 years may feel more comfortable opening the account with us from our website, whereas a 16-year-old who doesn’t know how checking accounts work may feel more comfortable opening the account in a branch, possibly accompanied by a parent,” she said. “But once the account is opened, mostly likely that 16-year-old will move to the mobile channel to manage the account.”
Paying close attention to members’ behaviors and mapping out their journeys is imperative in placing the right products in front of them.
“If a member typically carries a very low balance, we might talk to them about our overdraft protection service, including pulling from a savings account, a line of credit or from their Visa credit card,” Vas Nunes said. “We also offer an opt-in service, Overdraft Privilege, which will approve a transaction that overdrafts the account.”
A member asking for any type of loan or credit card can be best served if the CU understands how the member intends to use the credit, Vas Nunes said. Arizona FCU likes to assess how much members will spend, if they will pay off their balances each month and whether low-interest rates or reward points and cash are more important if they are looking to apply for a Visa credit card, for example.
Understanding these details is critical to offering them the right credit card product, she added.
“We use analytics to provide members with offers for car loans, different types of credit cards — even [home equity lines of credit] to help them make home improvements — or to suggest when members may qualify for higher deposit dividend rates based on the balances they have in a lower-earning product,” Vas Nunes said.
The CU realized several of its members had relatively high balances in their basic savings accounts last year, so it had staff make personal phone calls to those members to educate them about higher dividend money market rates and offered to open those accounts and transfer their money to the new accounts,” Vas Nunes recalled.
Credit unions are competing with one another as well as with FIs and FinTechs in offering safe and secure banking services, so it is crucial for them to understand their members’ needs first. A short-term investment in members can lead to improved member loyalty and future opportunities down the line.