15 Jul Ireland’s Credit Unions – Customer Service Champions?
Is customer service at Irish Credit Unions superior to that at the banks?
Credit Unions in Ireland are viewed by many as a community institution. Many of us have had some experience of dealing with Credit Unions and to most the experience has been good.
Ireland’s Credit Unions movement was started in the 1950’s as a result of the efforts of three dynamic entrepreneurial people Nora Herlihy (teacher), Sean Forde (Bakery employee) and Séamus P. MacEoin (Civil Servant).
During this time they recognised a need for local communities to gain more control of their finances. Essentially a Credit Union is “an organisation of people – for people, existing only to serve their members and not to profit from their needs”.
Today there are over 2.9 million members with savings approaching €11.9 billion, 9,200 active volunteers and over 3,500 employed.
As a result of the recession Credit Unions have taken a hit. Interest profits are down 40% since 2009 and average arrears where 19% of total loan book value. As a result it is likely that smaller credit unions will be merged according to the Credit Union Development Association AGM held earlier this year.
Do Credit Unions offer less services than Banks?
Credit Unions do offer less services than banks however this is set to change. Research carried out by Amarach in 2013 shows an appetite amongst credit union members for additional services such as ATM machines, online and mobile banking.
The ATM debate is expected to be less relevant from 2016 onwards when Credit Unions begin offering debit cards to their members. At the same time all debit card terminals will offer cash back with no purchase making ATMs near redundant.
Key findings of the Amarach Research, carried out in 2013, showed;
Credit unions are three times more popular among the population than the pillar banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB
Half of the adult population in the Republic of Ireland are active members of a credit union
79% of adults believe that credit unions are becoming more relevant today
97% of members believe that customer service at credit unions remains the same or is improving relative to four years ago
40% of members say that the service they receive in their credit union is better than customer service they receive anywhere else
Credit unions perceived to be far stronger financially than either domestic or non-Irish banks
40% of members cite the way in which the credit union handles loans and savings as a key factor when deciding to open an account
Credit unions remain dominant in the personal loan and car loan market
In ROI 32% of non-members have said that they are likely to join their credit union over the next 12 months
There is a huge appetite among members for more products and services
What is your experience of customer service standards in your local Credit Union? Is the customer service experience superior in Credit Unions compared to banks?
Let us know in the comments section.