Humanizing The Digital Experience

June 25, 2023

By Ray Birch

SAN ANTONIO—It’s time credit unions begin to “humanize the digital experience,” according to SWBC, especially when they do things that deserve a little congratulations.

And what that means, the company said, is finding ways to digitally touch members throughout their product and service journeys—just as if they walked into a branch and were congratulated for a special event.

For example, SWBC said such humanization could begin the moment members tap their keyboards to make their final electronic car loan payment, with the CU sending a nice message recognizing the member for now owning their vehicle.

“It’s important that credit unions harness key humanization opportunities that build new relationships and strengthen current ones,” said Jason O’Brien, CEO of SWIVEL, a payments arm of SWBC.

O’Brien added there are many, growing opportunities to do just that, including via payments channels.

The advice comes at a time when the perception of credit union service has slipped below banks in the minds of consumers for four consecutive years in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index study. The study further shows that banks’ service is beating credit unions’ service largely due to better digital delivery.

“The annual Capgemini World Payments Report has clearly outlined the evolving need to prioritize fast, easy and frictionless payments with the latest emphasis on Payments 4.X,” O’Brien said, adding that more is needed than even easy payments, according to the data.

The ‘Wow’ Factors

O’Brien further noted the Capgemini report found additional “wow factors” are also needed in payments to drive stronger relationships. Such wow factors could include taking steps such as providing updates on how consumers are performing with their payments.

“By automatically providing insightful statistics during online payments, a credit union is creating added overall knowledge of a customer’s financial stance while at the same time serving as an inspiring reminder of progress and what it can mean for the future,” he said. “There are many options here—almost never-ending and customizable, depending on the scenario and type of account being paid.”

O’Brien said such customization could include:

What was saved given early payments
Number of payments remaining if no extra payments are made
How much a member would saves annually if the loan were to be paid off that day

Jason O'Brien

More Than a Clock

“It’s not just a matter of a simple countdown clock. It’s information that is insightful and perhaps provides even an eye-opening or move-making moment for the customer,” explained O’Brien. “Some types of loan providers already diligently and consistently provide these stats, but it is often done by a tool that is somewhere else in the process, by a feature that lacks marketing, and is unlinked to the actual point of payment.”

‘Bold, Huge & Obvious’

O’Brien pointed out that many fintechs are not just doing these things now, they are making it known through advertising that consumers can use their solutions to see the progress they are making via their deposit or loan accounts.

“They tend to use considerably larger font where messages and numbers mean the most,” noted O’Brien. “Amounts, options, milestones, etc.—bold, huge and obvious.”

Lessons for Credit Unions

There are lessons for credit unions here, emphasized O’Brien.

“The ability to form a sense of accomplishment through a visual and factual experience is worth the investment,” said O’Brien. “Place the textual emphasis of the payoff page on the most meaningful ‘wow’ elements.”

O’Brien added that it’s a good idea to look back on the member’s payment or savings journey when the account is closed.

“It is definitely a time to share all of the milestones throughout the account’s journey—from the start date years ago, to the length of the loan and much more,” he said. “It is also a critical moment for customer retention past this end date. And this is a good time for upsells or new sales.”

O’Brien said if a credit union surveys its members and discovers many look forward to visiting the CU’s website during a payment process, the institution is doing the right things.

“That’s because the visit translates into accomplishment for the member,” O’Brien said.

Celebrating an Anniversary

O’Brien noted SWIVEL is now one year old.

“Last year we took a product line called SWBC Payments and we launched a wholly owned subsidiary business called SWIVEL,” he said. “We’re 100 employees strong and we’re serving 850 financial institutions. We’re helping credit unions enable some amazing transactions with the with their members.”

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