Five Steps to Creating a Digital Culture

When asked “In the past year, which method did you use most often to manage your bank account(s)?” consumers responded as follows: Mobile (apps on smartphone or tablet) – 45% Internet/Online (Laptop or PC) – 27% Branches – 14% (Oct 31, 2022 – American Bankers Association) This statistic says a lot!

Mobile utilization is the preferred method for consumers to manage their money and make deposits, transfers, and payments. Too often, credit union’s are not keeping pace with member adoption of the digital channels. What can a credit union do to prepare its team to support its member’s digital needs?

  1. Nurture a digital culture – Most credit union staff has the traditional access channels at their fingertips. They often have access to their accounts directly from their desktops. As a result, their need for the consumer digital channels is not as “urgent” as a member that has to drive across town to do business with your credit union. In working with credit unions, this lack of need compounds their lack of awareness of how these channels work and how to use them. To reverse this trend, the credit union needs to train staff in the use and navigation of the digital channels and incent them to use these channels.
  2. Staff feel digital adoption threatens their job – The fear that digital channels may replace them may be real. This feeling is not only a belief; it is a fact, it is already happening. Branch sizes have gotten smaller with few teller lines. We see that robots will do any job that involves repetitive actions with little human intervention. ATMs, online banking, and mobile banking already do most of the functions of a teller. We need to give these essential employees a career path that protects them from losing their jobs to robots. Sure, they will need to be ready to learn new tasks, but today’s employee needs to be a life-long learner.
  3. Create a Digital “Genius Bar” – This is a person or even a place in your branches that is similar to the “Genius Bar” at the Apple Store. A person or persons trained to help members adopt and use digital channels. If you’ve visited an Apple Store recently, you know these people are in high demand. This tech role requires a lot of the same skills that tellers now have, their people skills and understanding of the platform; they need to learn how to nurture others in their use.
  4. Expand your call center – This expansion should include staff with specific technology skills who help members navigate the applications and online/mobile tools. The credit union may consider adding the ability to “co-browse” with the member’s during a call. Consider a pay incentive to the call center staff who have invested in training to become tech specialists .
  5. All digital initiatives need to be strategic – This means that anything the organization does that touches remote/digital access should be overseen by one strategic owner. This is an executive that makes certain all efforts across all channels are aligned and the member experience is consistent. Becoming a digital centric credit union is not just about applications and tools; it is a strategic objective – strategy before software! What would a Digital Strategies executive do? They own all digital initiatives, they push the strategy forward, and they report the attainment of strategic milestones, wins, and losses along the way and advocate for the budget and resources needed.

We are still not to the point of becoming branchless. We need to be very agile in responding to our members as they migrate to the digital channels both from a service and a sales standpoint. Is your digital strategy preparing you for member migration?


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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