Digital transformation is driving significant change to the expectations of credit union members. Technology and lifestyle changes are making the digital experience the most critical engagement for financial institution customers. But as the digital race unfolds, how can credit unions leverage technology to humanize the customer experience by making it more, rather than less, personal?


Serving more than 600 credit unions and community banks, NCR has a well-informed perspective on this challenge. NCR is committed to helping our credit union clients prioritize their members by enabling a personal approach to improve financial well-being. According to an Epsilon report, 90 percent of consumers said personalization is very important, and 80 percent said they are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. As the banking ecosystem experiences rapid growth of mobile-first consumers, we explore ways to help our clients leverage the digital channels to provide an experience even more personal, more convenient, more timely than could be delivered in the branch. The goal: create the best experience possible, regardless of how members select to interact with the credit union.


A great example is SAFE Credit Union, serving 220,000 members in northern California. Like many institutions, SAFE has seen significant growth in mobile-first members. Because a majority of members have a mobile-centric lifestyle, it was critical to reach them in an impactful and meaningful way. SAFE adopted NCR Digital Banking’s latest customer engagement capability, Promotion Suite Premium, to reach its members with targeted mobile messaging.


To make its messaging personalized and relevant, SAFE considered member behavior and context to first determine content based on who they were, where they were and how they spent their time. This approach helped SAFE deliver personalized services to members on their mobile phone when they needed them most.


For instance, when SAFE members walked into the local stadium hosting a minor league baseball game, they received a push message offering special offers that could be redeemed at the game. This looks simple to the customer, but behind the scenes is a complicated yet elegant concert of technologies involving data analytics, geofencing and GPS integration. The credit union’s members may never know the name “NCR Promotion Suite Premium,” but everyone understands free prizes and tickets. And SAFE wins more loyalty points from appreciative members.


Similarly, to raise awareness and utilization of its cash-back rewards, SAFE sent a push notification to a subset of members to encourage awareness of their rewards balance and redemption options. By segmenting the audience and tailoring the message, SAFE increased customer engagement by 30 percent, and customers were able to earn cash rewards in the categories most important to them.


This sophisticated engagement approach helped SAFE promote community outreach events and campaigns to its members, such as contributions to Ronald McDonald House Charities at specific restaurant locations. Geofencing technology and mobile messaging allowed SAFE members feel good by giving back a percentage of purchase to the partner charity.


Personalized customer engagement outside the branch is even more critical when operational problems can impact members. When SAFE experienced a recent card issue that prevented members from making purchases, the team knew they needed to make its members aware of the problem. Rather than alarming all customers with a blast message, SAFE was able to segment its affected customers—even those not logged into their banking app. This quick communication reduced SAFE’s call center volume by more than 80 percent. Some SAFE customers even took to social media to share posts about how their credit union had helped them in a difficult situation. Bottom line: SAFE turned what could have been a negative experience into an opportunity to improve customer engagement via smart, authentic, customized, real-time communication.


NCR Digital Banking’s Promotion Suite Premium helped SAFE transform the way it interacts with members, creating more meaningful and personal experiences. As the digital channels continue to evolve, credit unions like SAFE will be looking for more ways to deliver the right message at the right time in the right place. Increasingly, that right place for most members is their mobile phone.


Doug Brown ( is senior vice president and general manager of NCR Digital Banking at NCR Corporation. More at


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