As the years fly by, it is easy to see that online stores have become a prominent means for shopping. While one typically thinks of online retailing as clothing, electronics, and other tangible goods, this also applies to credit unions. Members have the ability to apply for loans, increase credit limits, and much more—all through a digital screen.
Provide information upfront
Let’s take a look at Amazon or any decent online retailer. When you’re searching for a new TV, you want to know all the necessary information before you hit the checkout button. You want to know the size of the screen, the quality of the picture, the smart capabilities it has, etc. The product page on the store provides all that details for you preemptively. Imagine if the product just states “TV for sale—for more information call xxx-xxx-xxxx.” Would you call or buy it? Providing information is crucial to keep your target consumer, but at the same time minimizes the amount of back-and-forth communication between buyer and seller.
If you are providing all of the needed info the buyer needs, the buying process has already been sped up. Faster sales means happier clients, which means repeat customers. From a credit union standpoint, you can provide all the ins and outs of applying for a loan, and minimize any back-and-forth emails or phone calls that could potentially occur before the loan is approved and sent out. You can receive the member’s account number and standard details to increase credit limits with a single submission.
Online retailing means easy data analytics
Online retailing also can assist the buyer with a preferred way to be contacted. A simple form when ordering a product or service or a request for information can make life easier. You can ask which method would be preferable—a phone call or email, and a designated time simplifies the communication process between you and your member.
Implementing an online solution for your credit union services correctly can also provide valuable data for you to utilize. You should be able to track the number of requests, date and time, and the information the member provides in the process. Using this, one can delve into side-by-side comparisons, calculate averages, and find specific trends across the entirety of submissions. Although easier said than done, utilizing your data can help your credit union find trends and assist in making executive decisions for the institution.
Asking for specific information beforehand speeds up the process as well. With one set of instructions, you can remove unnecessary emailing or phone calls and have all the details provided to you instantly from the member.
Make it consistent across the board
Take my CUSO for example. Before we implemented our online store, our processes varied significantly between departments—there was no consistency. Clients looking for services would only be made aware of our services through email or word of mouth, which is limiting from a marketing standpoint. Then, if the client wanted to proceed, there would be a series of emails and phone calls for information exchange before the service could even be initiated.
With the implementation of the online store, all of that overhead went out the window. We were able to easily advertise products and services and push related ones that clients may not have known to exist—new opportunities blatantly presented themselves. Information gathering became simplified, we could ask for details during the ordering process, streamlining everything before the order was even sent to our teams. We now had access to incredible data and could write up reports for total sales, orders taken, items sold, the number of customers, average order value, and much more. Jumping into the world of online retailing has been a huge success for us over the past few years.
So how do you take that leap? How do you push your services without a face-to-face interaction? Think about the services your credit union has to offer. What information do you require from your members to push that button and make them happy? Using a secured online form can streamline the process and turn a sit down meeting or email thread into a system that minimizes overhead. Gather names, contact info, account numbers, requests, and anything else you need from a member. Utilize e-commerce tools to provide members with the info that they need to pull the trigger on a decision to utilize your services. Do your own research—it will pay off in the end.
Integrating your credit union with online tools is beneficial for everyone. Your members won’t have to drive in for each service they require, information is gathered quickly from both sides, and your credit union can have detailed records to use for trends and decision making. Online retailing is now, and we in the credit union industry need to jump on the train to stay on par with the rest of the world.