What is digital completion and why is it important?

Source: Lightico

Almost all credit unions today have digital capabilities for members, whether it’s an online portal for managing day-to-day tasks or an app. Yet far too many members still find that transactions can begin online but must be done in a branch or through another channel such as email or fax. Digital completion is the next digitization step that credit unions must take to ensure members enjoy a fully digital journey from start to finish.

Deficits persist in the digitization of credit unions

Credit unions have made great strides in digitization, knowing that more digital options generate greater member satisfaction. And recent surveys show that members of credit unions rate their credit union’s digital offerings higher than consumer ratings from traditional banks. This numerical rating is strongly correlated with overall member satisfaction and loyalty.

Yet despite high overall satisfaction and digital performance, there are a few areas where credit unions can improve. While local credit unions and banks tend to serve similar types of customers with similar priorities, consumers find local banks have an easier online account opening experience (16% experienced difficulty ) compared to credit unions (21% encountered difficulties). Credit unions are even further behind digital banks, also known as neobanks, in this area. Only 8% of digital bank customers have had difficulty opening an account online.

account opening difficulty bar graph Source: Lightico

Another area where credit unions can improve, despite performing relatively well, is receiving or servicing a loan online. Here, credit unions outperform local banks as well as many other financial institutions. However, 36% of credit union members still report having had difficulty obtaining or managing a loan online. This is not a trivial number and as we have seen, member satisfaction is directly correlated with the ease of digital interactions.

online loan difficulty bar chart Source: Lightico

What is preventing credit unions from reaching their digital potential?

Credit unions are on the cusp of meeting the digital expectations of their members fully, but not fully. So what’s stopping them from being top digital leaders? Here are some of the main factors that hinder credit unions:

1. Silo process

Credit unions use digital tools, but they are often stand-alone, siled solutions that don’t necessarily match up with other digital offerings from the credit union. Systems that do not communicate with each other end up hurting the member experience or causing breaches of compliance. For example, allowing members to submit electronic signatures but not having a way to automatically send those electronic signatures to the back-end system leads to messy compliance or efficiency issues.

2. Obsolete channels

Credit unions, like many other financial institutions, often rely on tools like email and PDF to do business with their members. Such tools may represent a step forward from paper-and-pencil processes, but they are increasingly unacceptable to members of modern credit unions who want instant and instant transactions (like Uber, Amazon and from Netflix).

3. Inconsistent cross-channel experience

Can members apply for or modify a loan through the credit union website? Then they should be able to do the same from their cell phone. No matter which channel a member uses to initiate an interaction, whether on their phone, desktop, or in the branch, they should be able to perform this task from any other channel. Unfortunately, members often find that some activities can only be done easily on one channel and not another.

How digital completion solves these problems

Digital completion [dij-i-tl  kuhm-plee-shuhn]: the ability to complete each step of a customer journey digitally

All of these issues we’ve seen in the credit union digital strategy results in a hectic member journey, extending the time it takes to complete tasks. Siled processes mean that member information cannot flow from one source to another, resulting in wasted additional time. Stale channels mean members have trouble completing interactions, again resulting in extra time wasted. And an inconsistent experience across channels means members don’t know what to expect when they start a trip, again resulting in more wasted time.

Moving from a blanket attempt at ‘digital transformation’ to the next era of digital completion means unifying systems, tools, and channels in a seamless workflow that speeds up time to the end of the journey. A cohesive digital strategy translates into lower dropout rates, faster turnaround time, and greater member satisfaction.

Here are three characteristics of a digital completion-focused credit union strategy:

1. Mobile-First

Whether members want to get on board, apply for a personal loan, or simply update their address, they should be able to do so from their mobile phones. This allows them to complete the processes from any location and on their own terms. No need to find the time to go to an agency or even wait to be in front of a computer.

2. Immediate

Mobile apps and email have their place, but today’s members crave instant gratification. They want to complete their task yesterday. When given a choice, they often prefer the immediacy of the chat or text message.

3. Part of a larger workflow

Credit unions can leverage conditional logic to allow administrators to tailor paths to member characteristics. This ensures that the ball continues to roll between and within the stages. For example, if a member has a low bank balance, they may automatically receive an offer to apply for a loan. Or a member who has just finished uploading documents may be automatically prompted to submit their electronic signature.

Numerical completion is 1 + 1 = 3

Credit unions that focus on the central question: how can I get my members to complete the tasks they start faster? – will reap huge rewards. Frustration of members and employees is eliminated, efficiency is increased, and employees save valuable time which they can redirect to higher-order efforts, such as offering consulting services or special offers. Ultimately, digital completion is about understanding why members interact with the credit union in the first place: to complete something, as quickly and painlessly as possible. We need to help them get there, and with the guiding principles of digital completion, we can.

Zviki Ben Ishay Zviki Ben Ishay

Zviki Ben Ishay is the CEO of Lightico, a provider of a New York-based digital customer interaction platform.

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