eStatement Notifications: Useful or Useless?

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Every month, our CUSO processes half a million eStatement email reminders to credit union members. These are emails letting members know that their monthly statement is now available to be viewed via online banking.

Although some credit unions use a third-party marketing firm to doll up the content a bit, perhaps include a marketing image or link to a newsletter, most of the time these are generic, run-of-the-mill messages that basically say, “your statement is ready, log in to online banking to get it.”

Is it even necessary to send these anymore? Is there value in using this opportunity to touch base with your members, or is it just an irritation most of them would be glad to have done with? Have you considered just stopping them altogether? Or could you perhaps get more bang for your buck out of this regular monthly communication?

A little history

When eStatements were first introduced, there were both marketing and practical reasons to notify members when their statements were ready to view via online banking each month.

There was significant marketing value in being able to emphasize how eStatements would be available more quickly than traditional printed and mailed statements. That was a major selling point to encourage members to make the switch.

Credit unions were concerned about the loss of an important communication channel with their members. Since the statement envelope was a great way to communicate with members and market their products and services, credit unions sought an equivalent technique to replace it for members receiving eStatements.

Because the concept was so new, once a member signed up for eStatements there was concern that without a notification, the member might need to be reminded that they wouldn’t be getting a statement in the mail.

In addition, since online banking use wasn’t yet ubiquitous, there was marketing value in reminding members about it every month. In fact, some credit unions even elected to auto-enroll members for eStatements, so these monthly reminders were as much about encouraging members to try online banking as anything else.

eStatements in today’s mobile world

Fast toward to today and the landscape has changed radically.

Members are used to having online access not only to account statements but also bills, tax forms, you name it. It’s probably not necessary to tell them every month where to find what they need.

While members might not have opened every statement envelope that came in the mail, with up-to-the-minute access to their accounts online and on their phone they are even less likely to open a static monthly statement email.

Consequently, credit unions don’t really use account statements as their primary way to communicate with members, as they once did. Should they?

Use it or lose it

Whatever your opinion, you should probably have a strategy. Maybe you’re of the camp that says, every time I reach out and talk to my member it’s a good thing, and I’ll take any chance I can get. Great! Just make sure you’re saying something that will benefit the member (or you). Don’t waste an opportunity with a ho hum, here-we-go-again message.

Maybe you see poking members every month as unnecessary, possibly even annoying. If you want members to listen, don’t spam them with a bunch of irrelevant noise. Make each message really count.

You might be worried that you’ll be breaking some sort of rule if you stop sending these notifications. Don’t assume, though, check it out. If you can find a regulation that says you must tell members their statement is ready (as opposed to having one ready, which we all know still remains a requirement…for now), pass it along.

Maybe it’s time to stop sending these notifications and put your energies towards other, more effective ways of staying top of mind with your members.

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  • VP Writing Team/Product Design, CU*Answers

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