The digital economy is a new world order where consumer behaviors and buying decisions are being directed by their digital profiles and personas. The digital economy will direct them to products and services, special offers, activities, and events based upon recommended by these profiles and personas. It’s not a matter of if or even when, it is happening now. PNC, Wells Fargo, Key Bank, BofA, and Chase are experimenting with digital transformation now.
What does your credit union need to do to stay relevant in a digital economy?
1. Create a digital strategy – This isn’t about just SEO, SEM, websites, email, FaceBook, Twitter, online banking or mobile banking. It’s about creating a digital presence and purpose. A digital strategy is an operational shift and a cultural shift for the entire organization.
2. Hire right – Your employees must be digitally savvy. Part of the hiring process must include understanding the applicant’s digital and web awareness.
3. Train the right skills – Throughout the organization, the employees need to be users, teachers, and ambassadors of the digital services and applications.
4. Streamline your processes – All processes touching the member need to be without unnecessary friction. In the banking process, your members see the procedure, risk management, underwriting, compliance and regulation as friction. Not all of it can be removed, but I submit there are a lot of steps we force our members to go through that are unnecessary, optional, “nice to have” and grandfathered into the process because “we’ve always done it that way.” The digital consumer expects a friction-free process to purchasing and problem resolution.
5. Redefine service – Branches need to become digital delivery centers. Almost every credit union is using a teller platform while our members are using browser/mobile-based platforms. Consider transitioning to online account opening and online loan applications in your branches and call centers. The service person is helping the member through the same process they would use at home or work. The hardware options should replicate what the member uses, desktop, laptop, Mac to PC, tablet or iPad, iPhone or Android. The service staff can demonstrate and teach the software so the member can “self-serve” the next time. Consumers are savvy about how to use ATMs. Consider going cashless and turn those cash in, cash out and check deposits into ATM transactions in the branch. Consider the instant issue of debit cards for new members or non-checking members.
6. Reinvent the call center – A call center’s purpose needs to change from answering phones and being driven by call times and wait times to becoming the voice of the credit union. Call center staff will need to be equally adept at chat, text, voice or video. They need to bring personality, empathy, expertise, diagnosis, recommendation, and CONTEXT to conversations. The virtual relationships are strong influencers of decisions and must engage members in this digital world.
Just because we are a credit union doesn’t mean our member doesn’t expect a frictionless, accurate, trustworthy, engaging and “friendly” experience as they will find with other retailers. I purposely put friendly in quotes because the consumer sees friendly differently today than they did with the mom and pop branches of the past. Today friendly can be realized via digital channels, emoticons, avatars, live chat, and video, not just through face-to-face engagement.
The world of Big Data and online intimacy is here now. Our consumers will be driven to decisions in a digital economy whether we are ready or not. Urgency is critical.