A lot of credit unions have been reluctant to get started with allowing members to open their membership online when in today’s world it seems almost imperative that credit unions offer this service. More consumers are wanting to apply to and join their financial institutions via digital channels, as well as engage with the financial institution over these digital channels, such as opening further products and services, or communicating with the credit union on questions or concerns.
Although many of the chief concerns of credit unions have been addressed and solutions identified, credit unions still seem hesitant to jump in. We have the ability to do member identity verification and to request documents for field of membership eligibility. So what’s the hold up? Is it work the (perceived, but maybe not so much actualized) risk?
The convenience of opening memberships online
One of the first benefits of allowing individuals to open their membership online is that they can do it on their time, when they feel comfortable. This can mean a lot to this future member, where they can open their membership while they are at work, or before they go to the movies, or even while they are at the movies (I do not condone this behavior!). Either way, it is on the member’s time.
And by allowing memberships to be opened online, you are setting the tone with the member that the credit union is always available. That your credit union offers a vast array of products and services for members to take advantage of. I know for me, I am not a very patient individual, therefore not having to wait in line, is a huge win for me.
Streamlining the membership opening process
Another advantage of allowing the member to apply online, is creating a streamlined experience for your members. In branch tools could be outdated. Let the member apply from their desktop, mobile device, or tablet. Your credit union can then build in offers/cross-sales within the site to have the member open a checking account, complete their online banking enrollment, or even sign up for eStatements. The robust capabilities of allowing the member to open, fund, and complete their online banking enrollment will encourage applicants to complete the process. Creating that first non-friction experience with the member will bring their membership a long way.
Take advantage of unique enrollment sites to target specific groups
With members applying online, credit unions can be flexible with their marketing offers and create multiple sites to target disparate groups. I have seen credit unions update their sites on a quarterly basis to pay members a bonus to join the credit union if they open their membership online. Or even rewarding members that open their membership online with a great rate.
Understand though that this strategy is not without work. Successful credit unions dedicate a resource to working online memberships and requests. When an order is placed or a membership is opened there needs to be a resource at the credit union to monitor and fulfill those requests. Like how Amazon and CU*Answers are fulfilling online store orders.
If you haven’t enabled this for your credit union, ask yourself why. Once implemented, online membership opening can become another virtual branch through which you reach a wider range of people in your community.