The Fair Approach

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Electronic services attract the typical 20% of members at this $1.2-billion credit union-a fact that leaves management dissatisfied.

"We want to do a little better," said Charlie Roberts, vice president of Information Technology at Travis CU. "We want to drum up some enthusiasm and increase penetration rates."

That's why the CU hosted a Technology Fair for two days this fall, making "electronic delivery channels more accessible to the member, and doing so in a non-threatening environment," Roberts told The Credit Union Journal.

Travis Credit Union, which offers online loan applications, homebanking, and e-statements, realized that a wealth of electronic services mean nothing if members don't use them. The Technology Fair was a first step in educating and training members about electronic services and, in turn, promoting cost efficiency for the 113,000-member CU.

"We thought we might have learning curve issues, where some members hadn't tried some of our services because they think they're too difficult or not secure," Roberts said.

Whereas turnout at the Fair was disappointing-about 60 members attended the four, two-hour sessions over two days-and the Fair "didn't make a big spike in adoption rates, Roberts was "encouraged that we gave a lot of personal, one-on-one attention to the folks that came."

But the sessions did offer a benefit in being something of a focus group for Travis CU.

Attendees rotated between six training stations showcasing six electronic services, such as homebanking, e- statements, website, and audio response. Travis CU employees volunteered to be trainers at the stations.

Roberts and his fellow CU volunteers learned some lessons during their one-on-one time with members.

"We realized that we needed to make some changes in how we present information on our website. For example, we got some comments about our homebanking interface. So we designed a clearer layout of buttons, made the site more visual, and made it less cluttered."

Exit interviews with members were positive, Roberts added. Members commented on ease of use and security, he said.

Consequently, the eight-branch CU has planned two more technology fairs-one set for this month at a local retirement community.

"A few residents who attended the first fair asked us if we could design a Travis CU day for the retirement community," said Roberts. "We'll target electronic services."

In order to increase participation for its third fair set for this spring or summer, Roberts said Travis CU would refocus its marketing efforts.

"We really did the first fair as an experiment," Roberts explained. "It was proof of concept. We did market it fairly aggressively" in newsletter, flyers, and the business sections of local papers, talking about how electronic services can help ease members' busy schedules. In addition, the CU offered a free Travis mousepad and refreshments to attendees.

However, future marketing will target specific groups, such as SEGs, and may include e-mail and other direct marketing, he said.

Successful marketing could mean a membership more amenable to electronic services. "The reason for this fair goes back to our business model," Roberts said. "For every member who performs a transaction electronically and doesn't show up in our branches, we're better able to serve other members and maintain a more efficient operation."

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