It’s that time of year again. Football season has started, the leaves are changing colors and your credit union is planning for 2014. Some parts of the strategic planning process will be familiar, but others will present new challenges your credit union hasn’t faced before.

Before you sit down for your planning sessions, here are three key considerations that should be on your radar for 2014.

Enhance Your Member Experience

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Improving your member experience has probably been on your strategic map for the past few years, but 2014 is no exception. Whether you’re looking to reconfigure a branch, adopt mobile banking applications or improve back office operations, the end result you’re likely looking for is a better member experience.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but getting out of your office and talking to real members is a great way to figure out how to improve your member experience. Ask them how they feel about interacting with your credit union. What would they change? Listen to their problems, take note of their behaviors and then brainstorm ways to develop offerings to align with their needs. As you know, the goal of a credit union is to build experiences, not products.

And don’t limit your questions to just members. Ask your employees where they see members get frustrated. Sometimes the best ideas can come out of places you didn’t expect.

Define Your Mobile Positioning

Did you know that 11.3 million United States households engage in mobile banking today? In response to this boom, most credit unions offer some type of mobile services.

Moving forward, credit unions need to figure out how to position themselves to best take advantage of the mobile channel. Be sure to focus on mobile services that will add value to your member relationships. And even if you’ve already adopted mobile technologies, don’t rest on your laurels. The capabilities of mobile technologies change from day to day. New technologies like geofencing, NFC payments and even biometric technologies like those introduced in the new Apple iPhone 5S create real opportunities for competitive differentiation at your credit union.

After you adopt new technologies, don’t forget to spend the time to educate your employees and members on how to use the new services. Always remember the demographics of your members and appreciate that not everyone may be as keen on mobile as your own team. It’s often helpful to hold in-person training or one-on-one demonstrations to make sure everyone knows how to best utilize your mobile platforms.

Adapt to Changing Member Habits

The way consumers buy financial products has been turned on its head over the last 10 years. In the past, if someone needed a loan, they would go to their local credit union and talk to one of your employees in-person. Today, consumers use online channels to research their financial purchases before they ever interact with your credit union.

That means credit unions must embrace online channels or risk falling behind their more forward-thinking competitors. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t panic. Start by envisioning what you’d like your credit union’s online presence to look like in an ideal world. Once you have the big picture, it’s easier to break it down into smaller pieces and determine a plan of action.

As you know, your strategic plan is never really “done.” It’s a living document that gives your credit union ongoing direction for the future. But if you focus on member satisfaction, define your mobile offerings and adapt to changing member buying habits, you can be sure your credit union will be prepared for 2014. 

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