How to Use Text Messaging to Maximize Member Engagement

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Like most business trends, text messaging is moving so fast it’s leaving a spate of questions in its wake. How do I get started? How can each member-facing team in a credit union use it? How do I write effective texts? How do I collect opt-ins? What about compliance? We’ve answered many of these questions in blogs about use casesopting in, and compliance. This blog focuses on how credit unions can write more effective text messages to improve member engagement.

“Text messages appropriately worded and delivered at the appropriate times will increase response rates,” said Rick Leander, co-founder and development director of Understood Connections, a behavioral science consultancy that does the bulk of its business with credit unions.

With Leander’s help, we’ve captured best practices for how to phrase text messages for three credit union services:

  1. Sales: 95% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes and responded to within 90 seconds, according to the CTIA. Beyond leveraging text messaging, Sales teams also must pay attention to how they text. When they cross-sell or upsell, they can spur action by citing the behavior of a member’s peer group. Write this basic text: “Households like yours are starting to plan for the future.” Customize it to match what you are selling: a car loan, mortgage, home equity line of credit, student loan, etc. “Starting to” serves as a call to action. “I don’t want to be left behind in this trend,” a member might conclude. In addition, Leander pointed out that an aversion to loss is a powerful motivator to act. Phrases like “Act now to lock in these low rates” or “Don’t miss out on this discount” appeal to members’ desire to save money and make wise decisions for their families.
  2. Lending: The loan origination process can be tedious, causing frustration among members. However, text messaging offers speed and convenience to streamline the process and enhance the member experience. Use secure links to quickly exchange documents. For example, members can take a picture of their driver’s license and securely upload it to their mobile device in just seconds. And the use of DocuSign to secure electronic signatures eliminates printouts and wait time. To foster positive feelings throughout the process, send a text message to mark each milestone. Doing so reassures the member that you are making progress and encourages the next step. Write a text like this: “Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the first three steps in the loan approval process. Just two steps to go!”
  3. Collections: Leander cited an example of a credit union that was troubled by the percentage of members incurring late fees on payments of loans, credit cards, and even mortgages. After some digging, the CU discovered that most members had the resources to pay on time, but they were forgetting to do so. The CU decided to send reminders three to five days before the due date. Although the CU used a mixture of phone calls, emails and text messages, Leander noted that texting delivered the best results of the three methods. “This credit union realized a double-digit percentage improvement in on-time payments,” he noted. Finesse is required to properly phrase a message that asks for money! “Remind them of previous good behaviors to reinforce future behavior,” Leander said. Here’s a sample text: “Congratulations, you’re on a roll! You’ve made on-time payments 6 months in a row. Your next payment is due in 3 days. Click here to make payment.” Combine encouraging words with the convenience of immediate payment.

First Impressions Count

Regardless of the use case, remember to craft thoughtful messages that include a call to action. “If people feel that text messages are helpful from the start, they tend to continue to think that way going forward,” Leander said. “But if the first interactions are seen as obtrusive, it’s hard to change people’s minds.”

The business world mimics personal relationships. We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Thanks to Rick Leander for helping us apply behavioral economics to member engagement practices.

Ready to start text messaging at your credit union? Request a custom demo of our Text Messaging + Analytics platform to learn how to get started today.

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