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Five Ways to Improve Your Member Experience

Today’s members have adapted quickly to digital transformation initiatives, making it critical for traditional financial institutions to start delivering a better experience.

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By Ashley Incardone, DBSI
August 21, 2023

When it comes to standing out in the banking industry, it’s fair to say that the “heat is on” for most traditional financial institutions (FIs). Even though mobile banking has become the norm these days, there’s still a high demand for in-branch service and along with it – superior service. Besides wanting a quick and convenient experience, most people want their interactions to feel personal, authentic and engaging.

A tall order for a credit union? Perhaps. But it’s entirely possible to give members everything they’re looking for by incorporating experience strategies built for the digital era.

Here are five things your branch network can do to help retain current members and attract new ones. However, before reading the list, it’s important to understand the value of a good member experience and what some people say is missing from theirs.

Why Credit Unions Must Offer a Top-Notch Experience

A Forbes Advisor survey reported that as of 2022, 78% of U.S. adults preferred to bank via mobile app or website. Despite this rapid increase in online banking, individuals still desire personalized service and 71% of U.S. adults say they prefer to visit a physical branch when they need help solving specific and complicated banking problems.

What’s interesting to note is that researchers have found there’s been a decrease in human connection across the banking industry. From trouble reaching live member service representatives to not getting answers from AI chatbots and receiving poor in-branch service, a significant number of banking clients have become frustrated and want their FIs to care more about their individual financial needs.

Is this call to action for traditional credit unions? We at DBSI think so, and by beginning to integrate the following elements into your operations, your FI can find ways to stand out from the competition across both digital and traditional channels.

Ways to Improve the Member Experience in Your Branch

1.     Modernize Your Branch Locations to Enhance Operations

When was the last time your physical branch locations were updated? If it’s been a while, your credit union may not be connecting aesthetically or functionally across your members’ transaction journeys. Many modernized branch networks have the following:

  • Physical spaces designed for exploring products and services, having one-on-one conversations with staff, completing self-service and receiving advisory services
  • Consistent branding in style, color and tone across physical branch locations and digital avenues, creating an omnichannel experience
  • Staff members trained to provide both transactional- and advisory-based assistance
  • Digital signage and interactive screen technology

If your network has few to none of these, modernizing your branches should be the next step in your strategic planning process. From updating interior design elements such as colors, tiles and carpeting to adding new lighting, workstations and digital screen technology – there are a range of improvements attainable depending on your budget and timeline. 

In addition to making physical changes, you may also want to explore the Universal Associate staffing model and understand how it can fit in with a branch modernization initiative.

2.     Promote Financial Literacy and Educate Your Members

For the first time in decades, Americans have been experiencing the effects of inflation and rising interest rates. This combination not only has them feeling more financially vulnerable, but it also makes them more skeptical of the banking industry. Additionally, while many think they have adequate financial skills, a 2022 Standard & Poor report stated that only 57% of Americans are financially literate.

Financial literacy programs are accessible through organizations such as the American Bankers Association and the National Credit Union Administration. DBSI also has a full library of apps and modules you can utilize with your digital technology to help educate members. 

3.     Recruit Self-Service Technologies to Back Up Your Branch Efforts

Members want more personalized service from their credit union, but they also want the ability to use accounts and services whenever it’s convenient for them. In this respect, self-service technologies can function independent of branch location operating hours and give members 24-7 banking access. Some options for your branch network include ATMs, ITMs and integrated kiosks – all machines that DBSI can help you source, maintain and periodically replace. 

Besides being more convenient, self-service technologies can help your credit union in a number of ways. For one, since members are able to complete many transactions independently, your staff members will have time freed up for more high-level advisory conversations and operational duties. Additionally, self-service technologies help reduce wait times at your branch locations, which can lead to higher member satisfaction.

It’s also worth mentioning that these technologies promote more personalized service when the interactive video features are enabled; members can speak to service representatives in real time, beyond the typical hours of a branch’s operations.

4.     Add Digital Signage to Improve Processes and Engage Members

If you haven’t noticed already, much of the retail world is now using digital signage technology to promote products and services. With its unique ability to reinforce brand identity and enhance the member journey, digital signage captures 400 times more attention than all other methods of communication and can even double a viewer’s retention rate. Here are some specific things digital signage can do inside branch locations: 

  • Showcase products and services
  • Promote your brand
  • Encourage wayfinding
  • Help teach financial literacy 

Are you still using printed content in your branches for communications and marketing? If so, you’re probably expending resources that get minimal ROI from your efforts. Rather than continuing with these inefficiencies, it might be time to utilize our Creative Experience Agency and place digital signage in your branches. DBSI can assist you in all aspects of incorporation, from installation and deployment to training, content strategy, content creation and on-site support.

5.     Incorporate Appealing Sensory Marketing Elements

Sensory marketing is an activity that engages a member’s senses to attract them at a more emotional level and give them a better brand experience. It can play a critical role in how a person perceives your credit union, and it’s something your digital-only competitors aren’t able to do as easily since their operations are limited to sight and sound.

Of all the ways you can improve member experience in your branches, sensory marketing is probably one of the easiest and most economical tactics to deploy. Here are a few ways to start:

Sight: Develop consistent branding across the member journey, both in-branch and online. Logos, colors and fonts, all should appear the same whether someone is on a mobile app, in the branch reading a sign, or on their laptop doing a banking transaction on your website.

Sound: Choose soothing background music for in-branch use and for member service phone holds. If your FI has branded sound bites, use them consistently across your corporate advertising.

Scent: Diffuse a signature aroma in your branches, one that’s calming and pleasant. You can also add a self-service coffee station for members to use when they visit; the scent of coffee can bring feelings of positivity, alertness and pleasure.

Ready to Improve the Member Experience in Your Network?

After learning all the ways your branch network can improve member experience, it’s time to choose at least one and add it to your strategic planning initiatives. With the rise of digital-only banking, the competition for loyal members is only getting fiercer, and now is the time to set your credit union up for long-term success.

Connect with DBSI today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

About DBSI

DBSI is a design-build firm that’s out of this world. Think of them like rocket scientists — but instead of rockets, they launch exceptional credit union environments by fusing design-build, technology and delivery together.

They are completely focused on the credit union industry and have the latest trends and the basics down, so you don’t have to waste time explaining compliance or other nuances. They get you to your desired state faster. 

Think incredible ease and convenience with a partner that connects all the dots for your project to eliminate any finger-pointing. The question isn’t what can DBSI do, but rather, “What experience are you trying to deliver in your branches and HQ?”