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What you can learn from southwest Michigan's favorite credit union

Southwest Michigan's UFCU is deploying strategies that every credit union should take note of.

United Federal Credit Union announced its seventh consecutive win in The Herald Palladium Reader's Choice Awards Oct. 30. Not only was UFCU voted best in the bank and credit union category, it also took home top honors in the best financial planning services division.

With 130,000 members worldwide and upward of $1 billion in assets, there are a number of areas this Michigan-headquartered institution sets the tone for.

UFCU's strategies are progressive strides that every credit union can employ to increase its popularity and visibility.

Keep up with technology trends
United Federal Credit Union remains user-friendly by staying ahead of the curve with its technology. UFCU employs online and mobile banking, as well as newer features like Apple pay and Visa checkout, according to their website.

In 2014, Customer Feedback Insights Group found that customer satisfaction was greatly impacted by following trends set by the market. In its Credit Union Satisfaction Index, CFI recorded online and mobile banking as most important to credit union members' experience. The index found 89 percent of respondents ages 18 to 49 and 80 percent of respondents age 50  conducted at least half of their banking on the go.

Venturing outside the realm of traditional banking can be part of a larger, strategic plan for success and relevance. In a 2013 report Montise found more than 50 percent of 5,800 commercial banks in the U.S. offer some form of mobile banking. 

"Fifty percent of the U.S.' commercial banks offer some form of mobile banking."

Credit unions looking to acquire new members need to get on board with the technology bandwagon if they hope to compete with larger institutions.

Geographic diversity
Branch staff and convenience accounted for nearly half of the leverage in member satisfaction in CFI's index - another area that UFCU excels in.

With 51 percent of respondents living within three miles of their closest branch, location was cited as the index's No. 1 reason members chose an institution. UFCU has six branches in three regions of the Unites States. Living, working, worshiping or attending school in certain areas near its branches qualifies an individual for membership.

Establish yourself as a thought leader
Providing your members the products, tools and advice they need to achieve their financial goals can be a real positive for members - especially with the younger crowd, who may be at the beginning of their financial journey. A survey conducted by Go Banking Rates found that 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their saving accounts. Only 29.1 percent of savers had accounts with balances over $1,000.

Not only does offering information position your credit union as a hub for financial experts, but it gives you the opportunity to meet the younger generation of members where they are and build a promising financial future. Take a page out of UFCU's book, which offers a members' assistance program and budget analysis packets at no cost to members.