Focus On Relationship Building

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LAKE MARY, Fla.-CUs need to focus on relationship building-and that can happen online as well as in the branch, pointed out Harland Financial Solutions.

Sam Kilmer, vice president of market development, told Credit Union Journal that financial institutions are having improved success building member relationships online, and are not using the channel simply as an account opening tool.

"Relationship building is not just happening at the branch anymore. We tend to think of online account opening as being for new memberships or expanding reach," said Kilmer. "However, from our data we are seeing that roughly 32% of accounts opened online are from existing customers. While the bulk of the new business is from outside the FI, it still shows that one-third is coming from existing members."

Kilmer explained that the same data show that the average number of accounts opened in an online session is 2.5. "It's no longer just online account opening," he said. "It's online relationship building."

So when it comes to planning for next year, resources directed to in-branch relationship building should not overshadow online channels, insisted Kilmer. An increased attention to relationship building is important because banks are refocusing here, Kilmer warned. "A recent Aite Group report shows that large U.S. banks are emphasizing operational CRM and analytics to a greater degree."

Kilmer attributes the big bank behavior to the affects of the Durbin Amendment and other regulations that are stripping away revenue, forcing banks to repackage accounts to offer more relationship pricing. Kilmer added that relationship building and relationship pricing will become a greater part of the CU movement because credit unions realize that the approach brings high-value growth. "It's capital positive growth and credit unions know they need this, and now they will have to compete more with banks for members' wallet share."

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