This is the third article in the series CU Perceptions, which explores how consumers perceive credit unions in Missouri.
We held focus groups in four cities (Columbia/Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis) and conducted a statewide online survey to gauge how much 18- to 40-year-olds know about credit unions.
When we asked why nonmembers don’t bank at credit unions, the number one answer was a lack of familiarity with what credit unions are and what they offer. But a close second was a concern for “branches and hours of services are not convenient.” The conversation during the focus groups went something like this:
Moderator: Why do you think credit unions and banks aren’t convenient?
Focus group: Because they’re never open when I need them to be, like when I get off work or on the weekends.
Moderator: What is convenient to you?
Focus group: Gas stations. They are always open for business.
Participants also said they liked when a financial institution is part of a major retailer, to again provide more hours of operation.
Focus group feedback is an art, not a science, so we don’t interpret this to mean that credit unions need to expand their hours of service necessarily. Instead, we need to redefine what convenience means to this group. For example:
Convenience IS NOT:
- Having 40 branches that you’ll never visit (think U.S. Bank or Bank of America)
- Being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Calling a credit union branch and having your problem resolved by an actual person without getting lost in a myriad of phone trees
- Experiencing better customer service, which ultimately saves you time and money
- Online banking and mobile apps that allow you to conduct business 24/7
- Using the Credit Union Shared Branch Network that includes a host of surcharge-free ATMs
These definitions of convenience require a more detailed conversation, but the effort is worth the return. We know from our study that once you nab a potential member, they’re likely to stay a member for life. Think about how you can redefine convenience in your marketing efforts and company culture.
Looking at the chart shown below, it’s interesting to see that only 10% of 18- to 24-year-olds mentioned branch hours and convenience as a factor for not joining a credit union. For this group, a lack of familiarity is the hurdle (67%). The group most concerned with branch convenience is 31- to 40-year-olds (22%).
Look out for more CU Perceptions article in The Missouri Difference. Questions? Contact MCUA's VP of Communications, Halley Abbott by email or phone, 800.392.3074, ext.1346.