It’s easy to focus on the brick and mortar branches of your credit union, but the truth is, your website is one of your most important branches — it’s where most people will go to learn about your credit union, research products, and, in many cases, join, open accounts, and take out loans. We call it The Digital Branch.
We had some fun showing what it would be like if a physical branch got the same treatment as many credit union web properties:
Narrator: A lot has changed since the 1990s. Back then, not only were golf visors actually cool, but websites functioned much like digital flyers. They were static pages that described a company and its services, perhaps with a few links to more static pages with further information.
Over time, these websites became a tangle of stories, information, multimedia, transactional services … the list goes on and on. There is now so much your members can do online, it’s easy for your website to become something of a labyrinth — your members can get lost trying to do something as simple as find out what your rates are.
It’s easy to focus on the brick & mortar branches of your credit union, but the truth is, your website is one of your most important branches — it’s where most people will go to learn about your credit union, research products, and, in many cases, join, open accounts, and take out loans. We call it The Digital Branch.
You would never build a brick & mortar branch without evaluating different locations, understanding the area’s population, having a reputable architect draw up a blueprint, and creating a clear plan for the branch to become profitable. Once it’s built, you’d be sure to keep close tabs on how many members bank there, deposits, loans, etc. Your Digital Branch is no different — but many credit unions treat their website as second (or third) thought.
Let’s take a trip to Digiland to see what would happen if a physical branch got the same treatment as many credit union web properties.
CEO: Hello, I’m Nancy, the new CEO of SAVRS Credit Union, and I’m excited to tour this branch out here in Digiland, one of our most popular suburbs.
Branch Manager: Welcome to the Digiland branch, madame! We’re really excited to have your leadership on board. SAVRS Credit Union has really needed a new voice for quite some time. I’m the head of the local branch, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
CEO: Thank you for the kind words. I’m curious, just to start, how many members do we have at this location?
Branch Manager: Oh, that’s a great question. Um…I don’t know.
CEO: You don’t know? I thought you said you run the branch? Well, what kind of loan volume are we doing?
Branch Manager: Er…I don’t know the answer to that either. Well, I could tell you how many loan brochures we gave away.
CEO: Wait, how is that possible? How did we possibly build a branch where we don’t know how many members it has or what kind of loan volume we are doing?
Branch Manager: Well, we built the branch 8 years ago, and then we redesigned it two years ago. We didn’t have any mortgage or car loan officers until last year. We hired each of them from different companies, but the contracts didn’t specify that we could receive any performance data, so we just have to hope that they’re successful. We do know that people visit them from time to time, so hopefully those conversations are going well.
CEO: Why is the carpet one color in the main floor and a different brands and colors in each office?
Branch Manager: Ah, same story. Those were all separate contracts we signed. We actually had to knock several walls down when we hired someone to talk to potential new members. Unfortunately, we put the door on incorrectly, and it doesn’t actually open. We’re not really sure if she still comes to work or not.
CEO: Well, can you at least tell me if we are breaking even on this location? You must have a pro forma that covers the cost of the initial build out and the monthly expenses, and the return we are getting on our loans originated here, right? Wasn’t there some kind of plan when you built this place?
Branch Manager: Oh, that’s a great question. No, sorry ma’am. We didn’t think that a plan made sense. We were just told to build this thing, and that we could add employees and other services over time. We’ve found all these helpful companies that will call us up from time to time and let us know about someone we could hire or a nice addition we could build into the foundation.
Narrator: See what I mean? It would be crazy for any credit union not to know what activity was happening in a physical branch, but often no one knows this information for the website — or has a clear goal of what the website should do.
When you see your website as a digital branch of your credit union, you realize it’s just as important, if not more so, than your physical locations. After all, your members should be able to do almost everything they can do in a branch online.
For more information on creating your digital branch, give us a call at 503-517-2116 or head to our website.