How messaging allows a one-branch credit union with global reach to serve its members

The Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, which has 68,000 members around the globe and only one branch, is using in-app messaging to more efficiently reach members. 

DCECU’s online banking platform

“We can now reach out to [members] in a secure fashion without them having to contact us first,” COO Art Peters said. “We know when we get a message from a member coming in that it is truly a two-factor authenticated message. It’s very powerful for us because, while we still may ask some identifying questions as part of our normal authentication protocol, it goes very quickly.” 

The Midland, Mich.-based credit union launched the new chat feature in September with the help of core technology provider Jack Henry. DCECU employees can now send messages to members to notify them about security issues like suspicious account activity or locked cards. In the past, the credit union used phone calls, email or direct mail to reach members for these issues. 

Peters said the credit union is primarily using the new chat feature, available to members through the app and online banking, to reach them about security issues, not to cross-sell new products. Because the feature has only been live for half a year, Peters said the credit union is still deciding how to best use the chat functions.  

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He said a chat function DCECU used in the past was inbound only, and is still available for members to use for customer service questions. The credit union has a contact center dedicated to reaching customers, and specialists are available for specific inquiries about their mortgages and credit cards. The credit union serves customers through the messaging function from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, but is experimenting with after-hours services.  

According to Peters, there has been a decrease in customer service inquiries through its other customer service channels since rolling out the messages. The credit union will measure the success of the tool by how often members engage the institution through digital channels. 

DCECU, which has $1.7 billion in assets, is open to employees and retirees of the Dow Chemical Company, as well as their family members. An additional 70 employer group companies and a variety of local clubs and societies are also eligible to join the credit union. Dow Chemical has 36,500 employees and 109 manufacturing sites, and the company manufactures products in 31 countries. Peters said the credit union has members in 30 to 40 countries, and conducts 98% of its operations through digital channels.  

Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent, previously told Bank Innovation that secure messaging is a good option for smaller financial institutions. “Text conversations are asynchronous,” he said. “A banker could be engaging more than one member at the same time.”  

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