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A guy walks into a hardware store…

August 27, 2019
A man looks at his phone smiling

By Shawna Rogers, Senior Consultant, Business Transformation

This particular customer is looking for a drill bit. That’s not his goal. What he really wants is to make a hole, but he needs the bit to do it. What he expects is a quick and simple way to fill his immediate need and reach his goal.

What does this have to do with credit unions? A member coming to you for an auto loan doesn’t want a loan — he needs the loan because he wants a car. If it’s too hard to get what he needs from you he’ll find a competitor that makes it more convenient, so he can more easily get what he wants.

Evolving technology like smartphones, apps, smartwatches, and voice technology has shifted the consumer perspective of their banking relationship. Factors such as rates and terms are being overshadowed by the ability to quickly and simply manage financial decisions.

Given this shift in member expectations, credit unions should stop thinking of themselves as being in the “money” business, dealing in deposits and loans; money is a commodity that doesn’t differentiate you. Instead, think of yourself as being in the “experience” business; the experience you provide members is the unique selling point you have to offer.

Here are four ideas that can help you focus on driving your member experience:

Look outside-in

When considering system or process changes, don’t take an “inside-out” approach, in which operational considerations like staffing, cost savings, etc drive how you engage members. Instead, take an “outside-in” approach, letting how you want/need to engage members drive the changes you make. The internal benefits will naturally follow.

Members’ who/what/how

A key step to understanding how to engage members is gaining deeper insight into who they are, what they want, and how they expect to get it. You have a wealth of data available — start analyzing it to identify trends and patterns that can lead to insights about member expectations and behavior. These insights can help you deliver a more relevant and personalized experience.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

Just putting your loan application forms online isn’t a “digital lending experience.” Do members have to print/complete/scan/send to apply? Do you still require a trip to the branch to close the loan? That’s not what your members expect these days. Conduct a journey mapping exercise to experience exactly what your members go through from beginning to end, identify pain points, and develop solutions to streamline the process.

It's not just Amazon

As you consider improving your member experience, don’t judge enhancements solely on what you delivered before. Your members live in a digital world and are comparing your experience with every other company they encounter. As more and more businesses step up their game and streamline customer journeys, fewer members will ask “why can’t you be like Amazon.” Instead, they’ll ask, “why can’t you be like everyone else?”

Before walking into the hardware store, our customer would probably first research online to see who had the drill bit he needed, compare prices, and maybe even the aisle where it was located. To save shipping costs, perhaps he’d pre-order the bit, so it’d be waiting for him at the store. Or maybe costs aren’t as important as being able to use whatever digital device he’d like to conveniently find, order and receive that drill bit. Whichever store offered him the best overall experience to meet his expectations would get his business — not just for the drill bit, but likely into the future.

What happens next week when this same consumer realizes he needs a car loan?