As Internet banking began to pick up steam in the late 90s, lots of people predicted that brick-and-mortar credit union branches would eventually fade away. Of course, they were wrong. As the market matured, it became clear that branches still had a place in the financial landscape. There are just some things that members either prefer to do or must do in person. For example, cash transactions come to mind.
Then came COVID.
Depending on location, access to many credit union branches was either very limited or gone completely. People were forced to use digital means to conduct their business whether they wanted to or not. And again, lots of people predicted the inevitable end of credit union branches. And once again, they were wrong.
As we settle into a post-COVID world, branches are again proving their value in overall member engagement. We still need credit union branches; we just don’t need the same credit union branches. That means the role of the branch manager is changing, too.
With that in mind, here are three tips to keep you pointed in the right direction down the information superhighway.
1. Know the Technology Better Than Your Members
Two things are certain:
- Your members are more tech savvy than they ever have been in the past, and
- They expect you to be just as tech savvy, especially when it comes to your credit union’s own technology.
For better or worse, members are going to visit your branch looking for help with that technology. If their need is beyond your MSR’s knowledge, you need to be able to step in whenever possible and make things right.
Remember, today’s members are looking for an omnichannel experience. That means the same overall member experience, regardless of whether they’re sitting at their office desk or standing at a teller window. Your job is to make the branch part of their member experience as seamless and frictionless as possible.
2. Get Your Employees Excited About the Technology
It’s human nature. As soon as your credit union introduces some new technology—an automation tool, for example—some employees will instantly see visions of being replaced by one of the robots in I, Robot. That’s not what technology is about, at least not for the foreseeable future.
Credit unions exist to serve members. That means every employee’s primary job is to serve members. And the more time they spend engaged in mundane, repetitive tasks that are better left to a computer, the less time they have to actually engage with your members.
Put another way, better technology allows your employees to provide better service to your members. That means that their jobs will become more efficient, more productive and, depending on your bonus structure, more lucrative. When the technology works well, everybody wins.
3. Be a Champion of New Technology
In credit unions of days gone by, technology was the sole responsibility of the IT department. In today’s progressive credit unions, technology is seen as a team effort, with IT experts and departmental stakeholders sharing the responsibility for successful deployments.
When your credit union introduces new technology, embrace it and be a part of the project to whatever extent you can. But don’t stop there. Make it your job to seek out new branch technology that your credit union can leverage to achieve better member service across the entire organization.
Technology will only become more pervasive as we move forward. The wise branch manager understands this and works to get the most from technology for their members, their employees and themselves.
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