Survey: US Credit Union Customer Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

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We recently surveyed 1000 Bank and credit union customers & members in the US to better understand what their experience has been with their financial institutions around the COVID-19 pandemic. As much of the world has come to a grinding halt, the situation has exposed the weaknesses of institutions that have failed to truly invest in digital transformation strategies, while demonstrating the positive impact of those that have. While many credit unions have been actively trying to reach and support customers, their members’ expectations are increasing. There is a massive opportunity to do more for them by providing more relevant, personalized support and guidance on mobile channels that ultimately builds long-term trust.


The Role of the Credit Union is Changing

According to the survey results, a staggering 20% of respondents have not downloaded their credit union’s app. In the absence of branch networks, digital personalization and context awareness play a key role in keeping members engaged on an individual level. People have been turning to their credit union for support; 37% of respondents say they rely on their credit unions during times of financial hardship, and 50% of respondents indicated they are using their app more often. 

The role of banks and credit unions are changing; they are no longer vaults of financial assets, but are now playing a broader role in helping people with their life. This creates an enormous opportunity for credit unions to strengthen the relationship with their members. While the pandemic has created a deeper level of trust between some members and their credit unions however, 20% of respondents surveyed indicated the relationship with their credit union through this crisis has actually led to a decrease in trust.

20% of respondents have not downloaded their credit union’s app

One reason for this weakening of trust could be that they are simply not communicating at the right moment with the right message, further exacerbating irrelevant communication and potentially making members feel that they are not being heard or understood. A recent J.D Power study referenced by Financial Brand, highlights some of the impacts of communications from primary financial institutions to their customers.

Communications from primary financial institutions about coronavirus to respondents.

20% of respondents indicated their relationship with their credit union has resulted in a decrease of trust

Rather than broadcasting widespread messages to all members, or displaying generic banner ads that are not relevant to every individual, a more thoughtful and personal ‘digital recommendation’ that is targeted to individual members will result in higher impact engagement and will likely keep members from exploring more digitally advanced institutions.

The Need for More Support

There is a gap in how credit unions are engaging with their members on their app and website. It’s time for credit unions to prepare digital channels in a way that truly services members and makes them feel more supported.

38% of respondents felt their credit union has not provided support

When asked whether their credit union has offered support or assistance during the pandemic, 38% said their credit union had not provided support or assistance during this time. Of those who accessed support, 38% had to proactively ask for it. Among those who accessed support, 42% did so in-person or via phone. Your members should not have to come to you when they need help. This is an opportunity for credit unions to anticipate the individual needs of their members during times of hardship, and truly strengthen relationships.

Proactively engaging with members through a mobile app, and providing relevant guidance based on their unique financial situation, will reduce the burden on call centers and greatly reduce the need for in-person visits, further reinforcing the important proposition that a credit union is there to support its members well being.


App Experiences that Members Would Like to See

Diving deeper into the average credit union app, members ranked the following as the top 2 experiences would like to have:

  1. Information or guidance relevant to my financial situation (e.g., an article with advice on home-buying when I’ve just applied for pre-approval on a mortgage)
  2. Offers relevant to my financial situation (e.g., an offer to open a savings account when I’ve just made a large deposit)

Relevancy when communicating with members is key. Advancing digital personalization strategies are pivotal to moving quickly and addressing customer pain points. The overall survey results highlight a critical opportunity: credit unions can expand their existing relationships with members by being a thoughtful advisor that continuously demonstrates empathy for what each individual is experiencing. 


In Summary…

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious challenge to the credit union industry in almost a century. It’s an opportunity to reset and redefine the customer experience. In normal times, large-scale digital transformation can appear risky, however we are now seeing a rapid acceleration of such initiatives across the industry. With larger institutions, these strategies were based on 5 to 10 year plans but are now occurring at a much faster pace. 

A unique advantage that credit unions have is their ability to move even more quickly in comparison. By partnering with the right technology partner, credit unions can rapidly advance digital innovation to better serve members, anticipating their current and future needs, and achieve high-impact, personalized engagement in a matter of weeks. Thereby, building deep relationships that can weather the crisis and stand the test of time.  

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