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August 10, 2012

Why Useful Alerts Mean So Much

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by Ron Daly - 

Checkbook_brain
Image Source: "Checkbook with a brain - 1975" by Nesster on Flickr (used under CC 2.0)

Notifications have been a blessing and a curse in the past decade.

"You have two new followers on Twitter!" Well, good for me. 

"John checked in at Boots-N'-Chutes!" Good for John, but why do I care?

"You were tagged in a photo on Susan's Facebook Album, 'Me and My Friends at a Jimmy Buffet concert!' Click to view." ...okay, that one's a good catch. Better untag that one of me with a margarita and a parrot hat. 

Yes, social media has spoiled us for notifications, turning the most mundane and unimportant notes into flashing billboards that you almost can't avoid. 

How do credit unions get heard above the din? By remembering the truth...

Nobody's Thinking About You

Anybody a "Mad Men" fan out there? I've only seen bits and pieces, but one scene sticks out in my mind. Do you remember this past season when Don Draper cheated one of his junior copywriters out of a campaign for shaved ice? The junior copywriter tells Don he feels bad for the way Don is, and Don responds "I don't think about you at all." 

Powerful words. They don't mean "I love you", they don't mean "I hate you". They mean "you don't matter". And, sadly, I think a lot of people feel this way about their banking (er, "credit unioning") relationship. As long as they get approved at point-of-sale and there are no big fees lurking around the corner, most members don't care much what their credit union is "all about". It's usually when there's a NSF fee incurred or a payment missed or a check bounced that people get up-in-arms and start contemplating a switch.

But there's a hidden misunderstanding here - members CAN AVOID huge overage charges, missed payments, and running out of money. They just don't like to think about their accounts or their budgets. And other banks and credit unions are setting high bars by using smart, targeted and actionable eLerts, so when a member doesn't get a warning sign to stop spending, they're left feeling burnt.

JJ Hornblass wrote a great article about this very topic on Bank Innovation. From the article

Is it valuable to know when a balance is low? Yes. Is that all a customer needs to know when it comes to low balances? Of course not. A meaningful alert would be one that cross references balances with payments. Let me explain. Say I have $10,000 in my checking account. Certainly, that is not a “low balance” — and US Bank would not send me an alert as a result. But what if I have a future payment planned for the following week in the amount of $11,000? The fact is that $10,000 immediately becomes “low.” And what if I get paid $6,000 every Monday? Well, then that $10,000 is not “low” anymore.

See how a little "extra mile" thinking can turn "Your money's gone." into "Your money's about to disappear, let's do something about it."? See how valuable that is to a member? See how it changes the way they think about you — not just as some brick building that holds their paycheck hostage week to week, but as a partner, a concerned party in their financial future?

Remember how important check registers were to your parents, or maybe even to you? Those days are long gone. Newer generations of members want to see their money come in and go out in real time online and have a rough idea about what's there otherwise.

Meet the demand. Make them think about you, and make those thoughts happy thoughts. 

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