By CHERYL LAWSON, JMFA EVP-Compliance Review
Growing consumer interest in digital banking services—combined with the necessity to modify normal in-person operations during the past 12 months—has caused a major change in the way banks and credit unions connect with account holders. Over a very short time span, the options available for new account openings shifted almost entirely to online and mobile channels, leaving a gap in personalized, one-on-one interactions.
No doubt, as traditional service options have been disrupted, enhanced technology and digital capabilities have provided increased flexibility and convenience for consumers when opening accounts and completing financial transactions.
However, when it comes to offering an overdraft service that provides your account holders with peace of mind when faced with financial shortfalls, vigilance in providing ongoing communications cannot be overlooked. To establish account holder trust and remain compliant, care must be taken to ensure easy access to consistent program messaging and digital support functions that help account holders resolve their issues with a full understanding of how the service works and how to use it responsibly.
Communication is essential for successful onboarding
According to the results of a recent onboarding study, despite the importance of early engagement, only about half of the financial institutions surveyed had an onboarding process in place. Among those that did, the process had not been optimized for the level of communication desired by account holders.
Establishing a more personalized, information-driven approach to your digital onboarding strategy is an effective way to reinforce your new account experience. Plus, it can increase account holders’ understanding of how your overdraft program works and build confidence in your commitment to helping account holders meet their financial needs.
1. Maintain an accessible, informative online platform
Following are steps you can take to create a digital connection with account holders and extend your institution’s focus on service beyond the branch-driven experience:
o Provide an easy-to-use online platform where account holders can learn more about their overdraft coverage options, including the ability to opt-in or opt-out of extended coverage for electronic and ATM transactions.
o Increase your platform effectiveness by installing chat functionality that mimics the face-to-face interaction that account holders have similarly experienced through branch account opening.
o Adhere to all ADA Accessibility requirements on your website, such as “text to speech” screen readers and text captioning for account holders who may have limited vision, as well as the ability to opt-in or opt-out with just a keyboard—without using a mouse or touchscreen.
o Monitor your online platform regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. Your written content should also provide clear program disclosures, updated with the latest regulatory information to ensure full compliance.
2. Renew your commitment to employee education
Many employees continue to work remotely and may have fewer face-to-face interactions with account holders. It is even more of a reason to revisit your training program to ensure all staff members who interact with account holders are familiar with all aspects of your overdraft program. Your staff should be consistent with their explanation about the service to your account holders and have the confidence to address any errors that may occur in program processing.
o Identify ways for employees to connect with account holders, opening conversations with “check-ins” so that they are warmly engaged.
o Develop phone scripts that incorporate compliant discussion language and train front-line staff on their effective use.
o Offer web-based learning options for staff, e.g., webinars and videos on Regulation E, overdraft alternatives and navigating your online portal to increase their ability to offer value in their conversations with account holders.
3. Stay the course of building long-term relationships
Follow up by phone with all accounts opened digitally to welcome new account holders, to see if they have any questions, to make sure they chose the right account for their needs and to explain their overdraft coverage options in a compliant way. Provide ongoing messages via email and letters throughout the life of account relationships to keep account holders apprised of their account status and overdraft program usage. This will help them with financial planning and reinforce the value you place on their financial well-being.
Provide consistent messaging across channels
Going forward, whether or not consumers continue to rely heavily on digital access to transact their financial business, a commitment to ongoing communication is essential. Failure to provide consistent, up-to-date information about the products and services you provide—like overdraft privilege—can increase account holder confusion and reduce their reliance on your institution as their primary source of financial services. What’s more, it can lead to increased risk of compliance and legal scrutiny of your program’s processes.
An overdraft program provider with knowledge and experience in program implementation, management and the changing regulatory environment can ensure your onboarding and account service strategy includes all of the components you need to keep your account holders informed and confident when financial challenges arise—whether they are accessing your services in a nearby branch or via their choice of digital channels.
JMFA is one of the most trusted names in the industry. Whether it's recovering lost revenue, uncovering new savings with vendor contract negotiations, creating more value, serving account holders better or delivering a 100% compliant overdraft service—JMFA can help you deliver measurable results with proven solutions. To learn more, please contact your local representative or call us at (800) 809-2307.