By Mark Roe
JMFA Executive Vice President of National Sales
In both good times and bad times, consumers expect their financial institution to safeguard their best interests. This is especially true when they are faced with expenses that exceed their balance or when they inadvertently make an error in balancing their accounts, which may lead to an overdraft. When it comes to providing your members with the tools and support they need to maintain their finances when emergencies or errors occur, are you directing your time and resources toward strategies that provide successful results—for them and your credit union?
In a recent Gallup study, respondents indicated that having the relief they need to get through the current crisis, as well as on-going guidance and financial solutions, and easy access to those resources whenever and however needed are what they want most from their financial institution.
Successfully providing reliable, convenient and safe financial services to your members is more challenging now as you juggle disruptions to in-person connections, coordinate socially distanced work environments and adjust business continuity plans amid growing uncertainty. But how you manage your service delivery strategy in order to respond to your members’ financial needs now can be pivotal to building ongoing, loyal relationships.
Following are three ways you can restore your members’ financial security and provide improved services experiences as we work through the current situation and for the long-term.
- Transparency creates trust and long-term security
Regulators have made significant changes to overdraft rules to increase transparency and protect consumers from unclear disclosures and discriminatory practices. However, overdraft programs with variable limits, based on data points that are unknown by members, often lead to confusion.
A fully transparent service—with established limits explained upfront and reviewed periodically— provides members with a consistent and reliable financial service to better deal with an occasional shortfall. There is no guesswork involved as to whether they have overdraft coverage and, more importantly, there aren’t any surprise fees.
- Higher levels of service lead to stronger relationships
Providing a level of service which builds trust and leads to long-term relationships involves much more than determining where a member plots on a data matrix. Overdraft programs based solely on analytics and data lack personalized service and value. Parameters that limit access to a safety net for some—based on undisclosed account information—don’t consider other essential aspects of a person’s overall ability to repay. Overlooking this can result in a breach of trust and threaten member satisfaction and retention.
Offering in-depth employee education provides your staff with on-going opportunities to gain a full understanding of how the program works and how to explain it easily. By helping them to gain confidence regarding the value of your program and giving them the tools they need to more effectively identify individual member needs and present information on the options you offer, you will empower your employees to build much stronger member relationships and experience more job satisfaction.
- A written compliance guarantee protects members and your credit union
If an overdraft provider doesn’t offer a written compliance guarantee, along with access to ongoing regulatory expertise and advice on compliance issues, they likely won’t be standing by your side if there are ever questions about your practices.
When compliance is a top priority, it means the provider has the expertise and resources to keep track of the latest regulatory expectations and identify potential areas of concern before they hit your radar. What’s more, they will put those resources to work to help you incorporate the necessary process and procedural changes to address any issues that might be problematic.
Commitment to best practices and personalized service is key to program success
No amount of automation or AI-driven technology will bring back members if they lose trust in your credit union. Make sure you offer an overdraft service that truly provides the reliability of a safety net your members can depend on when they have occasional short-term needs. This strategy will also offer protection from regulatory and legal risks, and provide sustainable service and revenue.