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CU Perceptions: Why Credit Unions Need to Redefine Convenience

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

Convenience IS:

  • 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.