Back in the day, new ideas took time to catch on. ATMs, though indispensable now, once elicited suspicion and fear from a branch-using public. Internet banking? No, thanks. People wanted to see where their money was going. But today it’s possible to introduce a “snap and deposit” mobile phone service (as CO-OP Financial Services recently did) and barely have to explain why a member would want it. If a member has the technology to “snap and deposit” – namely, a mobile phone with a built-in camera – they already want this service. We took the idea of members embracing the future and asked consumer financial services expert Rob Rubin – founder of FindABetterBank.comand BankSwitcher.com – to help us run with it. Rubin’s sites help consumers identify and move to financial institutions that meet their current needs, so he has a unique perspective on what consumers actually want. Given carte blanche, what do members actually want from their credit unions? Rubin’s tips for forward-thinking credit unions:
  1. Build a great website. According to research Rubin did for the Filene Research Institute, 84 percent of respondents under 30 and 85 percent of respondents ages 30 to 39 logged into online banking four or more times monthly. If your site isn’t flawless, neither is your service. Also: Consider the marketing capacity of your home page. Are you using it to its full potential?
  2. Invest in technology. Snap and deliver is just one example. Think expansively when it comes to new technology. Members – especially Gen Y members – are eager adopters. “Tools should let consumers do new and different things that they never thought of before,” says Rubin. Be exacting as well. Adding a poorly-designed, haphazard iPhone app is not better than adding nothing. If you don’t have the core competencies needed to do an outstanding job, get help from vendors that do.
  3. Don’t get walled in. Consumers still want access to branches, but don’t necessarily need a traditional location. What if a “branch” consisted of a bank of full-service ATMs with a scaled-down staff to facilitate?
Though Rubin believes credit unions should innovate aggressively, he also emphasizes that they should not lose sight of what they do best. “Credit unions are authentic,” he says. “If credit unions can present themselves as they are, it’s an advantage – they’re genuinely good.”