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It’s Not a Website. It’s Another Branch.

Keith Winn

Introducing a guest post from Keith Winn, VP Marketing of cuZOOM, and CU veteran!

It’s taken some 100 years, others 50 years, or even less. To do what? Essentially to develop the “perfect” member experience. You know exactly what I am talking about. For years, the credit union industry has challenged the “impersonality” of big banks, and created a unique, caring, and helpful financial environment where the member, no matter what they walked in for, comes first.

So, with that said, what happened with their websites? Perhaps when credit unions started building websites, they were simply non-interactive billboards. Fair enough. But that was over 20 years ago. Probably about the time many credit unions embarked to create that perfect member experience in their physical locations. What about member’s online experience? Unfortunately, even with all of the available new technology, recent surveys indicate most credit union websites are still years behind in meeting member expectations.

Maybe it’s because we gave it a name: the virtual branch. Sounds like we would see Keanu Reeves with dark glasses dodging bullets in slo-mo in the lobby, or a techno-rave with colored lights and head banging sounds. For whatever reason, we got lost. And, yet, the answer is so simple.

Think of your website as just another branch and design accordingly. When you walk in the front door of your branch, its very clear where the reception desk is, or the teller windows. There’s no posters and banners to distract you. When the receptionist asks how they can help, you are immediately directed to a person who can assist. It’s almost too easy.

Imagine a website that opens with a warm greeting, and then asks you “What would you like to do today?” and then offers 4 main choices: Home Banking, Credit, Save, Business, with hidden dropdowns for all of your other services. By keeping it simple (Does your website really need 8 rotating banners on the home page?) and emulating your already great member branch experience, you can also allow the member to seamlessly and quickly move through the process that will help your website sell. Yes, I said sell. All credit union real estate, whether physical or digital, needs to earn money to stay in business.

Where do you start? I think I’ll leave that part to the Credit Union Geek.


  1. David Turner

    You’ve addressed the “elephant in the room” or another way to say it “hit the nail on the head” Keith!

    Technology and economies of scale level the playing field today! Credit Unions need to view their website as a virtual branch to compete with the big boys and their deep pockets that afford them the advantage of virtual wallets.

    There are not only member bottom line ramifications but back office efficiencies that can be gained.

    • Keith Winn

      Thanks Dave – Appreciate your comments. Not only can a good, concise, and clear website help compete with “the big boys”, it can help credit unions generate more loans, thereby helping both the CU’s and member’s bottom line. The golden rule: Less is more.

  2. Mark Arnold


    Great insight. I ask credit unions, “why do you spend $2 million on a new branch and less than $20,000 on a new website?” We also call branches an asset and websites a marketing expense. That is backwards thinking. The reality is your website is your front porch. Make that front porch simple and inviting.


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