Credit unions (CUs) have long brand themselves as having a people-centric mission that has earned them a high place in the eyes of consumers, with UCs traditionally enjoying higher satisfaction ratings than other financial institutions (FIs). For the third year in a row, however, UCs lagged banks, according to to the most recent US Consumer Satisfaction Index. CUs had an overall satisfaction score of 76 on a 100-point scale in 2021, compared to banks’ score of 78. This difference might not seem like a big one, but CUs’ satisfaction score has dropped by 1.3 % compared to 2020, bringing it to a record level. low, while the banks’ score remained stable.
UCs received their highest ratings for the courtesy and helpfulness of staff, the speed of financial transactions at branches, and the quality of their mobile apps – but all of these ratings have dropped from 2020 levels. , meanwhile, received their highest marks for the quality of their mobile apps, first and foremost, followed by the courtesy and helpfulness of staff and satisfaction with the website. Of particular importance, the mobile app results are consistent with changing consumer priorities for FI technology offerings.
A growing preference for digital features would seem to mark the end of the era of in-person banking that UCs are best known for, but the battle for the hearts and minds of FI consumers is not over yet, with data suggesting that UCs have won over consumers. ‘ trust more than other FIs. This month, PYMNTS Intelligence examines how UCs are uniquely positioned to win business by balancing in-person and digital services.
Sources of member satisfaction/dissatisfaction
The integration of digital products means that UCs are under increasing pressure to roll out new services to retain their members. Non-CU members are almost twice as likely to report the ease of using their online banking services and account management capabilities, with 13% saying this is their main reason for satisfaction with banking regard to their FIs.
Credit unions lag behind in this area, with only 6.3% of CU members citing online banking capabilities as the main reason for satisfaction. Digital products and services carry such weight for some UC members that they would switch FIs to get them, with 35% or more saying they would leave their UC if it didn’t offer features such as mobile check deposit, digital cards, peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, digital wallets and cardless cash withdrawals.
The good news is that UCs maintain higher consumer confidence than other FIs. Trust is the top reason members are happy with their UCs, with 39% stating this in 2021. Only 22% of non-UC members listed trust as the top reason for satisfaction with their CUs. regard to their FIs.
What CUs can do to improve member satisfaction
In-person banking will inevitably decline as digital engagement grows, but many banking services require a more consultative approach and will continue to take place in person. Credit unions need to leverage their trust factor by balancing in-person services with full digital integration. This includes making digital investments to attract new members while showcasing their traditional strengths, such as their nonprofit status. That alone could attract a lot more Gen Zers, who to tend to wary of for-profit institutions and have recently expressed more interest in credit unions than millennials.
Credit unions can also leverage their strengths by invest in solutions that help improve experiences for all members, both digital and in-person, as well as across generations. Some consumers still prefer a highly personalized process, especially older UC members. Partnering with third-party innovators can generate automated solutions that improve processes across all channels, such as simplifying the lending process by reducing the need for time-consuming paper-based procedures. Simplifying processes can increase efficiency and allow more time for member engagement, thereby increasing revenue.
The most successful FIs will be those that achieve a balance between digital and human interactions, which requires a mix of technology and a well-trained member services team. Credit unions may wish to launch education initiatives to raise awareness of both their unique in-person value proposition and the new technologies they have to offer.