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106 posts categorized "Credit Union News"

May 09, 2013

Thinking Like a Software Company: Some Thoughts on Mobile, eWallets and Where We're Going

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 by Ron Daly 

I caught a look at this article from BankInnovation about Bank of America's mobile users. Recently, BofA Senior VP Marc Warshawsky disclosed that the number of mobile logins to their electronic banking services outnumbered the "online" logins (that is, from a personal computer) for the first time. Apparently, BofA customers can't get enough of the megabank's mobile apps. Warshawsky had a few words for how to manage mobile as smartphone penetration increases.

From the article:

How should banks approach mobile? “Think like a software company,” Warshawsky said. But he added a word of caution to developers: “Not everything is the right thing to do for customers just because you can do it.”

A sharp observation. But I wonder what he means by "think like a software company", especially when software companies aren't really "companies" these days - some are just a handful of developers, or even one developer, working remotely to make an app. Hard for a company as large as BofA to tell other large institutions that the key to success is thinking small and light, don't you think?

To try and expand on this very small soundbite and think it out a bit, I made some notes. Tell me if you agree or not: 

Step 1: Function first, form second, platform third

If I were a developer, I would want to create a product first and foremost. What's the pain I'm trying to salve over with this app? Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, had a single goal in mind: make articles easy to read when you're able to read them. He worked hard to create the code that would strip out all the ads from an article and present the information in a way that was easy on the eyes (Instapaper makes it easy to adjust brightness and font size - great for guys like me who love their iPad and hate having to find their glasses). He then brought that to bear on the iPhone, the Kindle, the computer monitor, the iPad...and now that he's sold a majority stake to BetaWorks, you'll likely see the app on every platform out there. But what makes it worth the time and money? Simple - it does one thing well on the back end and presents it beautifully on the front end, no matter which "front end" you're using.

Step 2: Change is good, and necessary, and (relatively) easy

There's a world of difference between the "software" we were used to in the 90's and early 00's and the "apps" we can't live without today. "Software" was a big, branded box of discs and booklets and download codes. Want to update that software? You need another box and another authenticity code and another set of booklets. And, most likely, you'll wait five years.

"Apps" live in our little icon squares and update every few weeks...maybe every few days. When developers find bugs or want to push updates, it happens quickly and, typically, efficiently. Adobe's taken note of this - their super-expensive and super-sought-after Creative Suite is going subscription, meaning updates and changes will be pushed automatically - no more buying upgrades to CS packages. Don't be afraid to upgrade your mobile offering when the time comes and be sure to focus on bug reports, breaks and user feedback.

Step 3: Find new ways to simplify and specialize

Malauzai, our mobile app partner for our My Virtual StrongBox app, has made a few headlines recently thanks to their common-sense approach to app development. River City FCU has a high number of Spanish-speaking members. The solution? A multi-lingual app that can serve both English- and Spanish-speaking markets effectively. Users complained about having to enter login credentials to check a balance. The solution? An app that will display balances and recent transactions without logging in but requires a full login for transactions. Simple, compliant, effective. 

Our own app's got some smart problem-solving features, too. Some folks don't have scanners and want to make electronic copies of paper documents. Solution? Take a picture with your iPad's camera app and it stores the image in your online safe deposit space. Simple!

Step 4: Always be closing...er, opening, that is.

Warshawsky warns against overwhelming users with too much functionality in an app. While you may not want to jam every possible user action into your mobile app, you should definitely leave yourself open to opportunity. If a member checks in three times a day, how can you be sure they'll be seeing what they "should be" seeing? That is, how can you make certain that when a member's ready to move on a home loan or an auto loan, they think of you first? Better get smart about giving people clear paths to a deeper relationship.



Apps are a way to keep current and bring mobile convenience to members. They are, however, just another mile-marker on the road to mobile dominance in our culture. What happens when that much-discussed "mobile wallet" hits the member's hands? Are you going to be an important player, or an obstacle to progress? How can you be sure you won't be left behind? 

Talk to us about it in the comments.

April 24, 2013

Step Right Up! Test Your Twitter Password!

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by Ron Daly 

Yesterday, the Twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked and a misleading tweet was posted, claiming that the White House and the President had been attacked. This, of course, was not true. But the damage was. Oh, yes it was. The stock market dipped ferociously, then self-corrected when it was determined that the claim was false. Twitter went crazy; first, with fear, then with ridicule of the AP, an organization that is assuredly licking its wounds as of this writing. 

Now, let's abstract this. What if it were your CU's Twitter account? What if someone "hacked" that account (we'll get to the term "hacked" in a minute), and sent a message to all your followers that told them your CU was going out of business, or that a branch had been robbed? Imagine the blow-back. 

Luckily, there's a website to test the security of your Twitter password. It's called IsYourTwitterPasswordSecure.com. Try it out! Go on, I'll wait. Come back when you're done. 

Continue reading "Step Right Up! Test Your Twitter Password!" »

February 20, 2013

Your GAC Getting-Around Guide, 2013

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by Ron Daly

Yes, it's that time again - the Government Affairs Conference (GAC) is only a few short days away and we here at the CU Soapbox couldn't be more excited. This is the one time of year when everyone eschews the warm, calming comforts of a casino or a far-off resort in paradise for the chilly, wind-swept streets of Washington, DC. But even with the sub-arctic blasts and the almost-being-hit-by-a-motorcade, GAC attendees always seem to be in high spirits. 

We're looking forward to being there this year. If you want, swing by the Filene Charging Station from 12:30 to 1:30 on Monday and you'll see me and Jimmy Marks. Feel free to drop by and have a chat while your phone, laptop, or tablet is charging.  I'm happy to sign autographs on any of my merchandise you might happen to have with you (kidding, of course). We'll also be bouncing around town in our usual whirlwind of lunch-having, drink-buying, event-attending and, yes, even Thunder-punching.

In the interest of making your GAC go a little more smoothly, I went a grabbed some light reading for the plane, train,  or automobile ride there. I also threw in a few notes about GAC, the Washington Convention Center, the surrounding areas and our favorite restaurants and bars for all your nightlife needs. 

Organizational Must-Haves

Here's a link to the Official GAC Schedule. Bookmark it, instagram it, make it the lock-screen on your iPad...whatever makes it easy to remember. There's also a full breakdown you can download as a PDF and save in your e-reader, if you're so moved.

Here's a quick link to the street address of the Washington Convention Center so you can quickly map your way there while mobile. Enter your starting address and it should get you there. One note about Googling for this address: the "pin" is dropped at the rear of the convention center - it's accessible from right in front of Mt. Vernon Square and this is probably the entrance and exit you'll want to use to get to the Chinatown area where most of the nightlife happens.

If you plan on exploring the greater DC area while you're in town (assuming you have the free time), you may want to go to a Metro station and grab a Metro card. Embark is an app that can help you navigate the often-confusing (and sometimes delayed) Metro. You can grab the Metro at either the Mt. Vernon Square OR Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stops, both a short walk away from the Convention Center.

If you're in need of cash, there are two ATMs that are part of the Co-op network. This map shows the convention center and the two ATMs closest to it (GSA and Justice, just fyi). These are marked on the map with a red pushpin. 

Good Eats

You have a multitude of options for food in the GAC area. On the map above with the red pushpins for ATMs, we've added yellow pushpins for places to grab a bite

High Class Dining

There are three restaurants we really like in the Chinatown area. Matchbox does great pizza and American cuisine and has a great cocktail selection. The 901 Restaurant and Bar has a chic style and some tasty food. Acadiana is the most pricey, but the cuisine - a kind of Creole fusion - is to die for.  

Good, Fast, AND Cheap

Need something speedy that doesn't cost a bundle? There's Chipotle, Fuddruckers Burgers, Five Guys, Potbelly and Chopp'd (a salad joint, if you're into that) all in the same block.  

As far as bars go, just walk toward Chinatown and you'll see them in the same area as your dining spots. There are too many to mark and our map's crowded as-is, but there's Fado's (Irish pub), RFD, Rocket Bar...the list goes on. 

And coffee? There's always a Starbucks around, including one right inside the Convention Center. Fear not...there will be caffeine.

Good Reads 

Go ahead and save these articles to your Instapaper or Evernote apps, or throw down a bookmark. There's a lot of good food-for-thought here and it'll help you get through your travel. 

5 Places to Spot Washington Celebrities While at GAC

Who to See at GAC

CUSOs Look to GAC to Step Out of the ‘Vendor’ Category

“How to Hike the Hill”, a CUNA Mutual Group Instructional

GAC – Traditional Media & Social Media…Hand in Hand

February 15, 2013

Conventional Wisdom Vs. Real, Actual Wisdom

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by Ron Daly

There's what people know, and then there's what people "know". 

And whaddayaknow? Typically, they're complete opposites. 

 You see, there's "conventional wisdom" - what people think they know based on their personal experience - and then there's "real, actual wisdom". "Real, actual wisdom" typically shows up in the form of unbiased research with clear results. Is it more "trusted"? No, not likely, because nobody wants to feel like they're wrong. But it is a reflection of the truth. 

What got me going on all this is a recent Nielsen Group study on teens and technology. Now, "conventional wisdom" tells us that teens are wired and great with technology. What does the "real, actual wisdom" tell us? 

Teens are not technowizards who surf the web with abandon. And they don’t like sites laden with glitzy, blinking graphics. Teens are often stereotyped as only wanting things that are bold and different. They’re also often viewed as being fearless about technology and constantly connected to some form of media. Although this might be partially true, it’s an oversimplification and letting this steer your design can lead to disastrous outcomes.

The study Nielsen conducted focused on the ability of teenagers to gather information and see a process through online. What did the study find? That teens had poor patience and attention spans, poor reading skills, and bad research methods. They weren't as good at finding the info and making the right decisions based on what they found. 

The study goes on to talk about what works with teens and what fails. What works?

  • Smart, concise writing
  • Large, readable fonts and big images (to compensate for small screens)
  • Self-selecting social and email (yes, email) options. 

Wait, that sounds like a list of things older users would like!

Not to sound like a teen, but...DUH. 

Who doesn't like reading things that are easy to understand? Who doesn't like a website that's built large enough to read and use? Who doesn't like to have the option to not socialize every single online interaction? 

A little research goes a long way. For a while, when I would describe our newest product, My Virtual StrongBox, the people I talked to would tell me that their older users wouldn't like it. After pulling demographic information for  My Virtual StrongBox's users, we discovered that use was highest among ages 30-39, and second highest – yep, you guessed it – among users in their 40s and 50s. "Conventional wisdom" made it seem like a product built for Gen-Y. "Real, actual wisdom" proved the real market had a touch of gray. 

Long story short? Take the time to ask, to record, to report, to study – to really, truly know.

Then, act.

February 07, 2013

The Pocket Merger: Your Phone is Becoming Your Wallet. Will Your CU Be Prepared?

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by Ron Daly 

I'm an iPhone guy. When most of my peers were pecking away at a Blackberry hard-key, I was tapping and swiping my touchscreen wonder-phone. I'm currently working with an iPhone 4s, having bequeathed my old phone to one of my kids (who dropped her iPhone and shattered the screen). 

As someone who sits watching at the cross section of technology and finance, I'm fascinated by the idea of the "mobile wallet". I read a little more about it every day and, despite all my reading, I'm not quite sure what to think. Yes, interest is growing, but it's still small. Yes, the tech advancements are impressive, but also scattered between the people who were already handling payments (Visa, Mastercard and the like) and the start-ups (or is it "upstarts"?) out to stake their claim (Paypal, Square, Isis). Cheap, plastic doodads jut out of your phone that let you physically swipe a credit card with your smart phone. Suddenly, your smart phone's a wallet AND a cash register.

And a bank account? Time will tell, I suppose, if the merger between your phone and your wallet puts CUs at risk.

I pulled a few recent articles about the topic that I think are worth reading: 

Mobile Monday: Square Wallet Provides a Sneak Peek at the Future of Proximity Payment (Jim Bruene, NetBanker, full story here)

"And all your previous transactions, with full itemized receipts, are available within the Square app... It's truly the future of payments available for a sneak peek today. I highly recommend giving the Square Wallet a try."

Are Bankers Ready for The Bank 3.0 Reality? (Jim Marous, JD Power Banking Blog, full story here)

"[Quote from Brett King] The problem is that there are so many start-ups in the financial services and payments space that are impacting the way people view financial services that significant technology projects need to be undertaken by traditional banks just to keep pace. Investing in a technology layer, combined with the new costs of compliance, will be a challenge for smaller institutions. That doesn’t eliminate the potential for smaller organizations to collaborate or to build partnerships to respond to market realities, but I don’t see this happening."

Will You Be Ready When Mobile Wallets Turn Banking Upside Down? (Jeffry Pilcher, The Financial Brand, full story here)

"No matter what consumers today say they think of mobile wallets today, mobile wallets will triumph. Why? Because mobile wallets will simplify consumers’ lives in very personal and relevant ways. For starters, they eliminate the nuisance of thick, cluttered wallets. They also reduce the transmission of germs, because they eliminate  plastic cards, pens/signatures, touchscreens and keypads."

Mobility Matters: The Mobile Wallet Wars (Robert McGarvey, cutimes.com, full story here)

"If you are skeptical about digital wallets know that the skeptics may outnumber believers, at least among financial services executives. Forward motion towards wider wallet adoption has seemingly gotten just about nowhere in the past year. Few consumers have ever used one, few mobile devices have a digital wallet capability, and not many more retailers are equipped to accept them anyway.

But ask the experts and their advice is consistent: ignore digital wallets at your own risk because they are the future.

That clock is ticking."

Stop Spewing Mobile Wallet BS (The irrepressible Ron Shevlin, at Snarketing 2.0; full story here)

"If I've learned anything about doing consumer research it’s this: You can’t ask consumers their opinions about things that they don’t know. So, feel free to publicize your research about which mobile wallets are most popular with consumers, if you want, but I’m not buying any of it."

What are your feelings on the topic? Are you eager to pay for things with your smartphone? Think it's trouble brewing? Tell us more in the comments. 

December 27, 2012

The Top 10 CU Soapbox Articles of 2012

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Another year has run its course. We thought we'd wrap up this year of soapy, shouty goodness with a look at the ten best articles of the year (based on number of page visits). 

It's interesting to see what had everyone talking early in 2012 and how much things changed in a few short months. What do you think will be the hot news item of 2013? 

As always, thanks for reading. Here's hoping you enjoy this look back, and we'll see you in a few days for a new year of the CU Soapbox. 

  1. The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

    We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances.

    Or, in some cases, marketers.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  2. WTF? What's Next, No "Union"?

    This is a crock. What's next? They start saying we're not allowed to use the word "Union" because labor forces complained? How are you supposed to tell people you're "much more than a bank" when you can't say the word "bank"?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  3. Suze Orman gets into the prepaid card game -- and out of the good graces of the CU Industry?

    Suze Orman wasn't hired to promote CREDIT UNIONS, she was hired to promote NCUA and their capacity as the insurer of cu deposits. But people read "Suze Orman" and "NCUA" and interpreted that as "Credit Union Spokeswoman".

    Which is unfortunate, because Suze Orman just decided to set herself up as a prepaid card magnate.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  4. Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Four Good Ideas for Getting Locally Known

    I've seen credit unions with extra-inclusive fields of membership. I've seen credit unions that have branches in far-flung corners of the globe. But let's be realistic - where are you?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  5. Focused on the Community: NerdWallet's Top 10 Community CUs.

    The top ten weren't simply listed, ten-to-one. They were highlighted for specific achievements, such as "Best Business Support", "Most Inclusive", and "Best Loan Assistance Program".

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  6. Guest Author Marvin Umholtz: Stop Feeding the Strategic Crocodiles Snapping at CU Heels

    Although potentially unsettling for those who like easy answers, this overview’s’ fundamental premise is that today’s credit union leaders must thoroughly understand what they are up against and mitigate it. Credit unions aren’t paranoid if malignant forces are truly out to get them!

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  7. Everybody's Reviewing It! Why Gen-Y Depends on Other People's Opinions Online

    Why would the opinion of someone a Gen-Yer has never met mean more than their real-world friends and family? Well, in the real world, maybe not. If someone runs up to you on the street and screams "BUY AN iPHONE!", it might not make you break out your wallet right then and there. But when Bazaarvoice means "stranger", I'm pretty sure they mean a "reviewer". And what does a review have?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  8. Still don't have a social media policy? Bet you'll write one after this...

    Think about it for a minute. Most of the videos in that story appear to be shot on a smart phone. What happens when it's not feet they're recording, but credit card and debit numbers? Checking account numbers and balances? Still not seeing a problem?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  9. Too Many Text Messages Might Make Some Unhappy People Into Millionaires

    Papa John's is staring down the barrel of a lawsuit that might cost them $250 million...all over a few dozen text messages. Talk about your overage charges.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  10. GUEST POST: Mark Arnold on Becoming Your Members' PFI

    Just think about it: what would happen if every one of your members just added an additional product or service per household? Odds are, your net income would skyrocket.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

November 05, 2012

Election Day as a Deadline vs. a Holiday

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by Ron Daly 

November 6 is Election Day. We're positive that all of our readers are voting - they're all good citizens who are wise, engaged and informed - let's not focus on that. 

Let's look at the idea of Election Day itself. More and more, American citizens are voting early. According to the United States Elections Project, nearly 30 million americans have voted already. President Obama became the first president to vote early on October 25 of this year. Lines for early voting this weekend were hours long across the nation, especially in "battleground states" Ohio and Florida. 

I'm not going to dig down into politics, but I will say this: early voting is a good thing. Really, it is. 

We raise our children in our homes and in our schools to believe that the power to vote is an important power. Ideally, everyone who can vote will - but we know that doesn't always happen. I've more than once heard the excuse that "the line was too long at my polling place". What a crock! With early voting, you get plenty of time to vote and it's just as good as voting on the day. They'll even give you the sticker and you can wear it a full day (or even week) ahead of time.

It comes back to the idea of removing barriers to entry. Leaving people with fewer and fewer excuses means that if they miss out on the opportunity to vote, it's more likely to be their problem and not the system's problem. 

"Oh, the line's too long!" Well, go a few days early and there will BE no line...or a much shorter line than the line on Tuesday.

"I don't have any idea where I should go!" Google has an easy-to-use form that shows you where your polling place is - just go to Google and type in "vote" in the search bar, then enter your address. That's all it takes.

 

Screen shot 2012-11-05 at 11.54.04 AM
"I don't know if I'm registered to vote!" Virginia has a pretty good lookup system for your voter ID and pertinent information. I'm sure it varies state to state, but look for your state's board of elections website. 

Now, what does any of this have to do with credit unions?

It's up to you to reduce the barriers to entry. How easy is it to become a member at your credit union? How many hoops must a member jump through to get a new debit card when they lose it? What about the loan application process? Some things have to take a certain amount of paperwork and there's not much you can do to make it better, but why not make things easy where you can? 

As I write this, people are talking about the first anniversary of Bank Transfer Day and the 2.2 million new members CUs took in for 2011 (using CUNA's numbers there). Some think it's the best thing that ever happened to CUs, some think it didn't go as well as it could have. 

Why are we celebrating the first anniversary instead of going for a second round? Why don't we have a national deadline for the industry and encourage everyone to move their money every single year? Are we scared it won't work? That it will fail to impress the modern media the way the first one did? That there's not catalyst (like Bank of America's never-imposed $5 fee)? 

Why don't we have a bank transfer day every year, the way we have an election day...but stress to people how easy it is to move their money ahead of "the deadline"? And why don't we make absolutely sure that when we say it's easy to make the switch that it really is easy?

Vote to make things easy for the member. That's a real victory. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Oh, and take your kids with you when you vote - they're allowed to go in with you and it teaches them a valuable lesson about democracy. 

August 02, 2012

BTD2012: Will It Happen, and If Not, Will You MAKE It Happen?

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by Ron Daly -

Reports vary on how important Bank Transfer Day 2011 was. The 5th of November was supposed to have been the finish line of months of bank-switching and move-making. What came of it? 

According to a new Javelin study, not nearly as much as what might have been. Even though the NCUA and CUNA have speculated that 2011 brought in between 1.3 and 2.1 million members, respectively, Javelin's Mark Schwanhausser has called BTD "a bust". Even though the year saw impressive member growth (by CU industry standards), Javelin's study suggests that 11% of consumers are still eager to switch and some $675 Billion is still up for grabs in 2012...well, what's left of 2012, that is. 

So, when is Bank Transfer Day 2012? Is it needed? Could it happen again as it had before?

Ron Shevlin doesn't think so. From his blog

As far as I’m concerned, BTD 2011 was a passing phenomenon. A one-time shot. The pieces came together at a moment in time in 2011, and those pieces aren’t there for 2012. 

What pieces, specifically? An angry public, for one. People just aren't as incensed this year. They haven't had a "$5 fee-asco" like the Bank of America fee that kick-started the whole affair in 2011. Not to say the "Big-Banks" aren't charging fees - far from it. But there's no kick-start, no "straw that broke the camel's back" this year. 

Another missing component? A strong social media groundswell, created by an outsider, pushed on by concerned and eager fans and followers. You can't just drum those up out of nothing, they have to be hand-made by eager participants. 

And what about the insistance that "every day is Bank Transfer Day"? Yes, it's technically true, but are credit unions making the switch an easy one?

I was at an industry event a few weeks ago when someone insisted that "switch-kits" - the online walk-throughs designed to help people move their money - are "worthless" (their words, not mine). So, what's the key? Is there a snappy, easy way to get money from one FI to another and close accounts? 

And on the other side of the coin, there's a much bigger issue: member attrition. How many members that DID show up thanks to BTD are already gone? How many will we lose this year? If we keep sliding backwards, how will we ever get the growth we need? More startling, the fact that people itching to switch would be willing to pay fees for additional services...as much as $92 million. In FEES! Don't you see how important it is to not only offer "great customer service", but to offer sticky, useable products to back that up (as I discussed in my July CU Community article)? 

I can tell you this - if you're hoping another 50% member increase is just going to fall into your lap, you're dreaming. 

July 10, 2012

They'd Like to Leave, You'd Like to Have Them…Technology's the Bridge

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by Ron Daly

When we started this blog, we wanted to call it "CU Soapbox" because it was meant to be a place to stand up and shout about the industry. I've been doing a little "shouting" recently and I thought I'd make it a point to do the same on this blog, because hey, this is the right place, isn't it? 

I've done a little reading about a recent Javelin study about big-bank customers and why they want to make the switch to another FI...but don't. The Financial Brand does a great job of making all this digestible and points out one very important piece of information: 40% of surveyed consumers WON'T LEAVE their big bank because of that bank's online/mobile banking service. Do they want to leave? Yes, of course they do. Who wouldn't? Getting beaten by fees and losing a ton of money that you could hang on to would make anyone want to leave...what keeps them hanging on is the illusion of convenience. 

I say "illusion" because the kind of technology that would bend the bow in credit unions' favor is out there, and it can be had. We could be courting these on-the-fence big bank customers and their billions in collected assets. Why aren't we? 

I believe there are two problems:

  1. We're not promoting the technology/convenience we have and already offer, and
  2. We're not positioning ourselves to bring in the technology that levels the playing field. 

 I wrote two articles recently that sum up my thoughts on the topic. Go read: 

Then, start asking yourself the four major questions that need to be answered, and fast:

Question 1: "Are our current members utilizing the online services we offer, and if not, why?"

The best and easiest research to conduct for yourself is on your own member base. If you have 10,000 members and only 1,000 are using online banking, what could be done to get more people to sign up and start using it? Maybe they already did and it was such an excruciating experience that they swore off of it (I can't imagine that happening, but who knows?). What can you do to make it right?

Question 2: "Is our website (or OLB/mobile app/email newsletter/social media feed) everything it should be?"

Websites need updates and overhauls. It comes with the territory. Marketing hates to hear that they have to write new copy and make new graphics and IT hates the hassle of creating and implementing sweeping changes. I have two words for both: tough toenails. If the site needs a face lift, give it one. If it needs a total reboot, give it one. Make it easy for interested outsiders (and undereducated insiders) to get all the information they need.

Question 3: "What next-generation technology would best suit our members?"

Audience is everything. If you serve a member base that's always on the move (military, air travel industry, etc.), why not include remote deposit capture and a smartphone app? If you serve a large area that's tough to reach on foot, more drive-thru ATMs make sense, don't they? Don't just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks...make an informed decision for the member.

Question 4: "Who's in charge?"

So often, technological advances and purcahses are made without clear goals in mind, or anyone to enforce them. Set expectations and meet them. It's not difficult and it means there's a person driving these endeavors from the inside. 

Final Thought

Did you ever hear the riddle about the frog in the well? 

A frog falls into a well, 20 feet deep. Every morning, he wakes up and hops three feet up the side of the well. Every evening, he falls asleep and slides back two feet. How many days does it take him to get out of the well? 

The answer: Considering he jumps three feet every day and falls two feet each night, it would take him eighteen days to get within three feet of the top. Then, on the nineteenth day, he'd jump three feet and clear the well. So simple it's complicated, right? 

Let's put a CU-spin on this. If a credit union gains ten members a month and loses nine by the end of the month, how long will it take that credit union to compete with Bank of America in terms of sheer numbers? 

The answer: You can't compete with BofA on locations. You can't compete on "number of members vs. number of customers". Their product offering is too abundant, their reach is too wide and too far. Where you can compete is on an emotional level -making a lasting impact on your member. You can also compete on member service. You can also compete on rates. You can even compete on technology...provided you're willing to make it happen. 

Start jumping.

June 06, 2012

My Crazy Ex-Bank: What Some FIs Are Doing to Keep You from Leaving

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by Ron Daly 

We all know someone with a "crazy ex" story. Some people just don't handle breakups well and they end up taking it out on the other person. Hopefully, you've never run into a crazy ex yourself...but you might wind up with one if you try and move your money from a big bank to a credit union. 

The "big guys" are going out of their way to "maximize breakage", as Seth Godin says. Some of them are charging big fees for closing an account you've had less than six months. Some of them are making it expensive to do an EFT or a wire transfer. Most of them are making the process itself hard to understand. From the article above:

Consumers Union also found that the account disclosures and websites for all of the banks surveyed failed to provide consumers with clear account closing policies. In the fall of 2011, the consumer advocacy group said it sent 16 secret shoppers to the banks’ branches to ask how to close an account. Some shoppers received conflicting information on how to do so.

I'll bet they did. 

Are the big banks really crazy? No. They know that if a process is difficult enough, you'll give up trying. If you can't close an account easily online, you'll go to the branch. If the process keeps you at the branch longer than a few minutes, you'll get antsy and leave. Either you'll break down and quit or you'll pay the fee to leave - if you feel strongly enough about the latter, you'll pay not to do the former. 

Continue reading "My Crazy Ex-Bank: What Some FIs Are Doing to Keep You from Leaving" »