Years ago I remember closing my account at a bank here in New York State. I walked in, asked to withdraw the few hundred dollars I had remaining, and asked to close the account. I had recently shifted all of my checking and savings accounts over to a credit union in large part because of the fees the bank was charged to use out-of-network ATMs. I had no reason to keep a separate deposit account.
So there I was, standing in front of the teller to shut down my account. No questions. No talking. No "can I have you meet with one of our managers first?" No "is there a reason you'd like to close this account?" Nothing. Just dead silence and she punched some keys, clicked the mouse a few times, and handed over my $258 and change. We parted ways and that was it.
Understand key drivers to churn to prevent member exits in the future.
I expected to receive a follow-up survey or questionnaire in the mail weeks after because by closing this account I had completely dissolved myself as a customer of the bank. But still nothing, no email, no call, no letter. I was left wondering, "if they didn't ask me why I left, do they ask any of their customers? If the bank doesn't care about stopping me as I was literally walking out the door, did they ever care about me?"
Wouldn't a bank or credit union want to know what is driving customers and members away? Was it something they can correct or something outside of their control? Without a formal process to collect this feedback as the account closure happens or through a follow-up survey, the financial institution is flying blind as to why customers or members go elsewhere with their wallets.
Drive Research is a credit union market research firm that assists financial institutions with member exit surveys and closed account surveys.
What Are Credit Union Member Exit Surveys?
Credit union member exit surveys are a methodology to collect feedback from outgoing members to understand drivers to account closures. They are often called closed account surveys in the financial services realm. It can be a formal or informal process of asking members questions as they close the account or a process of sending follow-up communication after the account closure takes place.
How Do Credit Union Member Exit Surveys Work?
As a credit union market research firm, we always recommend a more formal process. If you ask for feedback in a short, engaging, and concise survey, you'll be surprised at the percentage of former customers who will take time to reply.
The disadvantage to asking about account closures in-person (by the teller or manager) is the respondent may not give the whole honest and truthful story. What if the member really dislikes the customer service at the teller stations? Do you think they will relay that feedback face-to-face when they close the account? Not likely, but they would share it as part of a follow-up survey with an independent third-party company.
Here are 3 core questions and topic areas you want to cover in a credit union member exit survey:
- Main reason(s) for closing account?
- How the credit union could better serve you?
- Did you transition the account to a competitor? If so, who and why?
We recommend 2 different options for credit union member exit surveys:
Option 1: Mail Survey with Phone Follow-up
This is a strong option for those credit unions that do not have email addresses for members. Mail surveys are a little more formal than a general email and typical receive higher initial response rates than an email survey (but are more costly). Mail surveys come with printing, postage, assembly, stuffing, return postage, data entry, etc. It also takes a longer time to collect feedback.
Time is of the essence here. The surveys should be mailed out at least once a month (at the end of each month) to those who closed accounts in the prior month. Obtaining timely top-of-mind feedback on the exit is crucial. If you can find ways to do this once every 2 weeks, even better.
Find a credit union market research firm that can follow-up with non-responders by phone. Because this audience is no longer an account holder or in some cases no longer a member, it takes a little extra to get in touch with them. Phone calls are an excellent way to boost response rates and show these lapsed members you still care through a personal voice.
Option 2: Email Survey with Phone Follow-up
As opposed to the mail survey, the email survey is more cost-effective for a credit union. Although initial response rates will be lower than a mail survey, this can be made up by simple reminders (up to 2 additional plus the original invite). The cost to send additional reminders to non-responders is minimal. Similar to the mail survey, a phone survey follow-up is also an option here to boost response rates higher. If you have emails, this is the option we recommend.
Why Are Credit Union Member Exit Surveys Important?
Although specific results differ by the bank or credit union conducting the closed account survey, all data can be separated into two distinct categories: (1) the percentage of member exits caused by something the financial institution could control and (2) the percentage of member exits caused by something the financial institution could not control. Understanding both is critical.
Those exits outside of the control of the credit union include things like moving to other areas, combining accounts into joint accounts, personal reasons, etc. However, controllable issues include items like poor customer service, fees, location of ATMs, etc.
Your member exit story is much different if 82% of closed accounts are caused by items within your control, than if 82% were driven by items outside of your control. Measuring this experience helps your credit union take action and make changes to keep future members and limit churn.
If you work with a third-party market research firm, they can automate and send you a monthly report with reasons for account closures tracked month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, and year-over-year.
Contact Our Credit Union Market Research Firm
Drive Research works with credit unions across the country to assist their organizations with their market research needs. These include member surveys, non-member surveys, and other types of services. Interested in receiving a quote or a proposal?
Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-303-2040.