ECU Finds 'Clear Delineation' Between Mail, Online Surveys

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Eastman CU had heard all the talk about how much happier and more loyal online-using membership is than members who don't use a CU's online banking service.

Now the $1.3-billion CU has discovered the truth for itself.

ECU sent its annual survey to 1,500 randomly selected members through regular mail, but at the same time, the 60,000-member credit union also put the very same survey on its website. To ensure that only its actual members could access the survey online, members could only reach the survey by logging onto their online banking accounts.

"This process allowed us to compare the satisfaction level of our 'online' members versus the randomly selected 'normal' members," explained Darrell Dinsmore, VP-IT at Eastman. "We were amazed by the clear delineation we found. Members using our Internet services are happier, use more of our services, and are more likely to consider us their primary financial institution."

For the last two years, when asked to rank the nine most important factors in choosing their primary financial institution, online users ranked Internet banking as the No. 1 factor. The other factors, ranked second through ninth, were: offers all the services I need, earned my trust, friendly/professional staff, costs less than competitors, convenient branches/hours, convenient ATMs, phone access to accounts, and brokerage services.

"We've obviously trained our members well. Online Banking is now one of the most important, strategic services we offer-period," Dinsmore related. "They will not pick a financial institution that doesn't offer a good online banking product. We've always heard about these myths about how sticky this product is, but our survey results prove they are true. These results speak well of the quality product provided by Digital Insight as well as the excellent web support staff at ECU."

The mailed survey went out to 1,500 members and garnered 800 responses. The online survey had 575 responses without any marketing or promotion of it other than a banner that came up when a member logged online.

Because online users were not automatically barred from receiving the survey by mail, the respondents to the mailed survey did include online users-about 29%, which corresponds closely to its 31% penetration for online usage.

Dinsmore analyzed the data from the respondents to the mail survey to see if the difference among the online users who responded to the mail survey correlated to how those who took the survey online responded, and once again, the "stickiness myth" was proven correct.

"Ninety-one percent of the online users who responded to the mailed survey said they consider us to be their PFI," Dinsmore commented. "I had heard all the 'sticky' comments before, but this really proved that it's true."

How To Use Information

With that in mind, how will ECU use this information going forward? "I guess the biggest thing we're looking at (from the survey) is what can we do to continue to get people to use the Internet service," Dinsmore suggested. "We're doing a lot of work with the front-line staff about how they can educate members about the online banking to where they can actually set the member up with a user ID and password and let them demo it right there in the office."

"We've already got 20,000 members using the online banking, so that means the people we're going after now are the most reluctant to use it," he observed.

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