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The Debate Continues- How Many Apps Should a Credit Union Offer?

The Debate Continues- How Many Apps Should a Credit Union Offer?

By John Best, Kevin Sarber, and Glen Sarvady


A few weeks back John and Kevin initiated a spirited debate over the multiple tradeoffs baked into a credit union’s app strategy- user friendliness, functionality, ease of ongoing updates, etc. Check out our prior post for the first half of this conversation, particularly on whether it’s best to offer a single all-inclusive app addressing every banking need, or a compact ”everyday” app along with a series of others suited for less frequent needs like mortgage applications.

Kevin pointed to a real-world experience to illustrate his point.  His family recently moved, and found itself dealing with the thankless task of swapping out service providers.  Kevin’s new neighborhood was wired by a different cable provider (we won’t mention the company’s name, but most of us are familiar with the limited spectrum of TV/Internet options). Knowing how painful the cable call center process can be, Kevin opted for the high tech route to establishing service, via the mobile app.

So far, so good… until Kevin searched the App Store and found eleven different apps associated with his new provider. By process of elimination, he decided to load one with a name that sounded like the main control center. It turned out to be the one he’d need to manage his account going forward- but not to initiate service. Back to the App Store, where he found another candidate- which, once loaded, turned out to be little more than an advertisement for add-on services.  His best resource ultimately proved to be a friend (not a company employee, notably) who had previously endured the same gauntlet and was able to guide him through the process. Even then, when it came time to set up his remote it required yet another app with a totally unrelated name. Go figure.

This is hardly the impression any company wants to create for a brand new customer. Worse yet, imagine if this had been a product for which the prospect had a multitude of options- like, say, banking. Kevin would have likely moved on to another alternative before getting to the finish line.

Here’s where we reach our Kumbaya moment between John and Kevin. John continues to support the multiple banking app model, with a maximum of five:

  • “Everyday account stuff”
  • Mortgage
  • Auto lending
  • Payments (“a true wallet!”)
  • Investments/Insurance (if offered by the CU)

Kevin suggests the solution is to focus resources on having members load the central “Everyday Account Access” app, and making the most frequently used functions available on the first screen. From there, an in-app search or menu for additional features like credit cards and other loan applications can prompt the loading of additional modules, rather than sending the customer on an App Store expedition where they might stumble upon a competing product before finding your own.    

See? Great minds don’t always think alike, but at times we can all just get along.

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