When extolling the virtues of credit unions, the refrain that I find most people return to is "They're just so friendly!" or "The clerk knows me by name!"
However - as the line between our on and offline lives begin to blur, more and more of our interaction will take place virtually. Heck, Vantage Credit Union has made it possible for you to scan checks with your iPhone, thus ensuring that I may never have to use a branch ever again.
As it stands, I haven't seen the inside of a bank or credit union in about three months, and if I can keep it that way, my life will be a million times better. Not because my experiences in branches in the past have been so harrowing or terrible, but because its one less place I have to go to.
Because of all this blurring, eventually we won't give a fig how friendly the teller is on line one or that the greeter remembers our birthday, because we won't be seeing them at all.
Now, this post isn't to say that your customer service shouldn't be tip top - thats not what I'm saying at all. What I am saying, however, is that taking into account where the future of banking (er, credit unioning?) is headed, it is foolish to keep heralding customer service as the lynchpin of the "credit union vs. bank" debate when in a few years, that won't even matter.
Ages ago when I was a freshman in college (2005), Washington Mutual, oh, I'm sorry, "WaMu" launched a new line of ads declaring that you could open an account with them online. You know what my response was?
No way. In 2005, I was not entrusting my security and information to an entity that my only relationship was with online.
Also in 2005:
- I had dialup.
- I didn't have a Facebook.
- I routinely payed $3.99 for polyphonic ringtones for my pay-as-you go dumbphone.
- I wore FuBu.
Oh, how times have changed.
In the next 5-10 years,the importance of physical branches will be greatly diminished. Please, please, please don't bank (pun intended) on a feature that, while awesome, will affect less and less customers in the coming years.
That is all.