Like most Americans, I use rewards cards almost exclusively. Whether cash back, travel perks, or discounts at national and local businesses, I some of the money I spend to come right back to me.
Here’s the thing: credit unions must prioritize digital convenience and utility. It’s starting to get embarrassing.
In our weekly newsletter, we shared a short PR blurb about how Sound Credit Union recently completed a Zelle® integration. Sound Credit Union is well over $1b in assets, which raised several questions:
Data is fundamental to your credit union digital transformation. Customers must be able to efficiently and effectively manage transactions online. Credit Unions must be able to infer customer needs from those transactions and reach out to customers where they “live” online, whether through email, social media, or text. This blog post presents a simple recipe for getting your data in order as a foundation for digital success.
Step 1 – Unload the data you don’t need.
Credit Unions tend to hold onto data forever, or at least long enough that it can become a problem. It is common for core systems to have database tables with hundreds of millions of transactional entries and years more data than needed for most operational needs.
Why? Fear of removing data? The effort to replace the data if you get it wrong?
Who tested that purge script anyway?
Shhhh. Is, “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” your data management policy?
OK, we all know that removing data isn’t on the list of critically important tasks, well, until it is. Removing data can make the overall management of your information system easier! Backups are smaller, and systems may run faster due to the smaller size of the database. It’s just less to manage.
The good news is that removing data, although challenging can be automated.
Step 2 – Clean the data you keep – for credit union digital transformation
Managing data in bulk is usually handled by IT teams. Managing data quality so your digital journey can be smoother is a front-line staff opportunity. The dirtier our data is the more each activity we want to embark upon causes exceptions. Having clean data reduces effort and increases performance by eliminating exception conditions.
How does data get dirty?
For example, complex core interfaces allow data entry errors to go unchecked and bulk imported data from a merger. I am sure you have other examples of where the data can and does go astray. Some kinds of data can be validated with scripts and tools, however, technology can’t fix all data problems.
Step 3 – Focus on data that supports digital engagement.
Ensuring the quality of member data like current email address and mobile telephone numbers is critically important for successful digital engagement with our members. It is important that names are correctly spelled, and that staff know how to pronounce names when they speak with a customer in person or on the phone.
Mapping member data help the selection criteria for digital campaigns, if your digital persona is a working woman who is the “CFO” of the household, you quickly realize that knowing whether your member is male or female is fundamental.
Do you have a report showing what percentage of your membership has an email in your system, a mobile phone number? This number is the upper limit of members your campaigns are able to address digitally.
Step 4 – For better member data, engage your members.
It takes time and effort to correct member data, and many Credit Unions are unwilling to ask members without some other offer or campaign. One option is to engage directly with your members to make sure their information is up to date. Train member service staff to pay attention to member data at every customer interaction. If key member information is absent or hasn’t been updated recently, have them ask members for updates.
The better the quality of your data, the easier your path will be to creating and managing the digital transformation.
Want to read more on digital transformation?
Phygital, it is a thing. And, it can be a very important concept in furthering the relevance of a credit union with an increasingly digitally savvy member base. As we walk down this digital transformation path as an industry, we overlook the physical aspect to competing digitally. Now, if you are of the mindset that financial institutions should have columns and vaults and project physical security, this may not be the best article you read today. However, if you are pouring money into competing digitally, this will interest to you because a bottomline message is that even in a 21st century digital world the physical still matters.
Some AHA! moments to consider. Have you flown lately? What is your impression when you get on an older United plane with no in-seat video, no Wi-Fi, or no personal device entertainment? Now, what is your impression when you get on a newer United plane? Or a Virgin America plane? It goes beyond them simply having Wi-Fi or PDE. It is the physical appearance of the cabin as well. What does the lighting look like? Is it industrial white lights? Or, is it lights with color, tone, ambiance? You are taking the same flight from LAX to DFW, but it is a completely different experience when the physical appearance of the plane is combined with the digital amenities you need.
Think about first impressions. I tend to make snap judgements when I walk into any type of business. From coffee shops to credit unions to fintech startups, when I enter a building for the first time I immediately decide if this business is tech savvy. And it has a lot to do with the physical appearance. Is the furniture older than I am? Little things too, like the keyboard. Think about that, does your keyboard look the same as it did 20 years ago? No, it does not. It is rounded, cordless, and smaller. Even something as innocuous as a phone can send the wrong message. What does that phone look like? There are a ton of millennials out there buying homes and cars and having kids. These people don’t even know what a dial tone is, or a busy signal. Many of them have never used a traditional phone. Telling them to dial 9 to get out is a completely foreign concept.
Now, think about your credit union. What do the branches look like? You may have the greatest mobile banking, internet banking, and digital marketing solutions around, but if your branches look like 1982 or 72 or 62 or even 1992, it might be time to update them. Have some secret shopping done. Hire a millennial to walk into your branches and provide feedback. It can be as simple as digital displays and as complex as selling older buildings off and starting over in new branches. For example, do you still have paper brochures in a display for members to grab? Is that really what people are looking for? Does your staff roam freely in the branch or are they confined to a desk with a computer? Enabling the staff to be mobile and digital is a big piece to the Phygital transformation. You cannot expect the members to adopt digital technology if the staff cannot adopt the technology. Each staff member could have a tablet with the capability to teach each member how to use the technology, email or text the member information, open accounts or perform transactions from the entire branch. Telling a member they have to go sit with Suzy Loan Officer or Tommy Teller to do a specific transaction is not exactly confidence inspiring. However, having a staff member with nothing more than a tablet being able to walk the member through every possible thing they could do in the branch is a confidence inspiring approach.
Have you ever watched an Apple product introduction? Here’s one. Apple wants to be seen as the digital company. But it also projects a sleek but appealing physical image. Everything is sleek, contemporary, inviting and if you think anything you see is there by accident, think again.
Nobody is saying that your credit union has to look like an Apple video. But take a lesson from Apple and know that appearances do matter. So do first impressions. It’s a phygital world.
Want to know more about digital transformation?
Credit Unions pride themselves on customer service and being “customer intimate.” They are pioneers of brickand-mortar, customer-centric innovations such as branch greeter stations and branches that look more like an Apple store than a traditional bank. Providing great customer services and “knowing” our members is a large part of what the Credit Union movement is about.
When it comes to the digital world, however, many Credit Unions remain uncertain of the best ways to use digital technology and information to enhance customer relationships. At the same time as customers increasingly prefer online transactions, Credit Unions have been forced to give up some control over the online transactional experience. Most Credit Unions simply don’t have the staffing or dollars to customize online and mobile banking systems, and therefore must accept a mostly off-the-shelf solution that is, at best, parity with the rest of the market.
Leveraging digital technology to improve customer connections requires thinking beyond transactions as customer touchpoints. It involves using data to get to know your customers on a deeper level, to learn when and where to communicate with them, and to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your communication campaigns.
Remaining “customer intimate” in the digital world requires staying relevant in the lives of your membership. That means many more touch points and communication more frequently than in the past. It also means moving away from drive-by window advertising and postcards where you can’t really be certain of the effectiveness toward the digital analogs—web site, email, social media, blogs, and videos—where you can measure response and monitor interest over time. In the digital world, you have more opportunities to show your expertise in personal or business financial management to help members make solid financial decisions. Your digital assets are available 24 hours a day all year long, unmatchable with any other channel.
CU 2.0 has developed a set of modules and processes to help Credit Unions leverage digital technologies in order to provide exceptional member service. Effective digital communication can be more complex than traditional marketing campaigns. Your strategy needs to consider the right mix of social media campaigns, blogging, videos, and ads. All of your campaigns must be linked to landing pages on your web site and set up with tracking analytics across all steps. Tracking the member journey allows the Credit Union to be on the same path, understanding what matters most for individual members, and providing information that is both timely and meaningful.
In this way, the journey to digital transformation is still member-centric. They key is to shift your focus to integrating customer data from multiple sources and being accessible to members via digital channels. Once you establish an enhanced digital understanding of members, you can make those insights available to staff, other digital systems, and even artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to enhance the member experience.
Digital transformation requires new tools and thinking, leveraging technology and automation to craft the personalized experience that our members now expect.