Evaluating Credit Union Statement Vendors

Mar 09, 2021


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Statement printing isn’t a hot topic at credit unions. Many outsource to vendors already, and the ones who haven’t (yet) have at least considered it. In house, it’s often a side priority for an operations manager.

But choosing a vendor isn’t a straightforward process. Comparing one statement vendor to another reveals that each has their own culture, their own way of pricing, and their own contract terms.

This quick guide will help you look beyond the basics of member document production and delivery. It will introduce new ways to differentiate vendors—beyond a cursory look at products and services!

Read on if your credit union is looking to outsource your statement printing!

The Basics and Major Benefits

We’ll briefly cover the basics to provide a point of reference. These are a few key benefits of outsourcing:

  • Cost and time savings
  • Increased speed and efficiency
  • Access to additional services (e.g. marketing, design, other documents)
  • Improved information security

Working with vendors instead of managing production in-house will simplify your experience no matter who you partner with. And, while all vendors may be similar, they are certainly not the same.

To differentiate them, you may consider what else each vendor brings to the table.

1. Credit Union-Specific Services

How well equipped is the vendor to help with CU-specific issues? You may want to consider finding a provider that understands credit union needs.

  • Has the vendor designed their entire product/service suite around credit unions? Or are credit unions an add-on industry for them?
  • Can they react quickly to industry-specific requirements?
  • Do they understand credit union needs, and can they anticipate them?

Vendors who work only within the credit union industry are more likely to provide comprehensive support. They’ll be able to speak fluently about credit union issues and pain points, and they will bring nuanced, experienced solutions to the table.

More importantly, they’re incentivized to solve your issue. Adding new features, fixing a small error, or making an adjustment helps all of their customers—not just a select few.

2. Contract Considerations

Any vendor will provide simplification and resource savings. But will the contract later become an albatross? Will it prevent your credit union from making necessary changes?

Ask these questions:

  • Does cost escalate over time? Many vendors don’t guarantee a set price over the course of the contract and may find loopholes to raise prices. Look for a vendor that charges all credit unions the same rate and whose contract doesn’t include any escalation clauses.
  • What happens if there’s a problem? If something goes wrong, how will the vendor make it right? For example, XDI allows customers to determine their own discount for services after a problem, from 1–100%.
  • What if our CU wants to leave? Vendor lock-in can keep credit unions stuck in bad contracts for 3–5 years (or more). Ask potential vendors about the penalty for cutting a contract short or switching vendors. Ideally, there won’t be one.

XDI includes an “escape clause” that allows credit unions to leave any time. Other vendors may feature similar client-friendly contracts. Unless you don’t expect your credit union to change in the next five years, you may want to avoid the vendors who don’t.

3. Community Involvement

Credit unions are about community. They take care of the region they operate in, and they help the people who live there.

Some vendors, like XDI, do their best to continue that spirit of community. For example, XDI hosts chili cookoffs, cornhole tournaments, and trivia events for CU industry professionals. While the events are fun, they’re also about giving. XDI awards charitable donations to the winning teams, ensuring the wellbeing of their members, communities, and regions.

When you look for a vendor, see if they’re the type of vendor who goes the extra mile to give a little something back to the people who support them. Would you rather buy services from a faceless corporate vendor, or would you prefer a team who continually makes an effort to improve the world around them through their business?

4. Transparency and Cost

One of your primary motivators is going to be money. That’s what credit unions help their members with, and it’s also what makes the world go ‘round.

The way each vendor arrives at pricing is different. It’s not always as simple as the price per unit, envelope, or mailpiece. A vendor with higher costs per unit might use fewer materials and mail fewer envelopes, saving you money in the long term.

So, don’t focus on per-unit costs! Instead, look for a straight-across comparison.

Also, make sure that your credit union statement vendor is transparent about costs. Can they tell you what any given service will cost? Will they give you a rough estimate, or will they give you a solid number, down to the penny?

Nobody likes hidden fees, rising costs, or extra charges that seemingly appear from nowhere. Make sure that your vendor is willing to speak plainly about numbers with you.

Final Considerations

RFPs are unreliable in this industry. They don’t properly address everything that goes into a vendor partnership. So, we recommend using them as a starting place. Then, speak with the vendor, get to know them, and see what makes their business model unique.

Then, have each vendor sign a non-disclosure agreement and provide them with a month of actual statement data. Ask them about the total cost, including materials and postage, to get them in members’ hands.

If you’re in the process of evaluating statement vendors, reach out to us! We’re more than happy to share what we’ve learned in the last several decades!

Read our full white paper on this subject here!

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