As we near the end of the year, credit union leaders are already looking ahead, planning the initiatives that will help their CUs compete in the rapidly-shifting financial marketplace of the future. Perhaps you are as well?
To assist, I’ve pulled together a list of three big-bucket items to add to your strategic plan. All rely on the intelligent use of technology to decrease operational complexity and costs, and boost growth and member satisfaction. Get ready to tackle them now, and 2018 could be your most successful year yet.
1. Tame back office complexity
As a recent Digital Banking report notes, the biggest barrier to innovation is often legacy technology. Thankfully, this situation can be mitigated without a costly rip-and-replace operation. Your to-do list for back office rationalization should look something like this:
a. Maintain up to date, efficient access to all relevant data. This can be accomplished in many cases by using CRM as a bridge between systems that otherwise do not share information. Making data accessible is the foundational step to increasing your analytical capabilities.
b. Identify redundant systems which can be eliminated. Make 2018 the year you do a full technology review. Chances are good you’ll turn up legacy systems that were never fully adopted, or redundant systems that all perform similar functions. Whittle down your technology stack, and focus on encouraging adoption of the best-of-breed solutions that remain, and you’ll reduce your IT burden.
c. Consider cloud technology. Give your IT department the gift of time by moving to SaaS solutions where applicable, and allowing a trusted technology partner to manage server environments and perform routine maintenance and upgrades.
2. Increase share of wallet and strengthen relationships
Your existing members are an untapped source of growth for your credit union. Engage with them as individuals, make offers based on their actual needs, and exceed their service expectations, and they’ll respond by rewarding you with increased loyalty and increased wallet share. Approach it like this:
a. Get personal with targeted 1:1 marketing. In a world of consumer-centric advertising by giants like Amazon and Apple, there’s really no place for untargeted marketing. Precision in selecting segments for product and service offers increases your marketing ROI. And, even more importantly, keeping your marketing targeted to individual member needs makes them feel valued and understood. So take the time to review your data and identify just the right candidates for every offer you send out.
b. Digitize the grunt work. Front line staff members who have to navigate between multiple systems, or even juggle paperwork, don’t have the time to build relationships. Digitize complex processes like account opening, and you give MSRs the time to explore how your CU can help members reach their financial goals. In a recent Accenture study, 63% of consumers stressed that they want more tailored advice from their financial institution, so making time for this sort of conversation is imperative to keep member satisfaction and engagement high.
c. Make a resolution to reach out proactively. Think outside the box when it comes to digital marketing. Members don’t just want product suggestions. They also relish other forms of contact, like invitations to educational seminars, or advance warning about branch closures. Even a simple message acknowledging a birthday has been proved to improve the member relationship! Email is a cost-effective channel for keeping up this consistent cadence of value-added communications with your members.
3. Get more data-driven
Make 2018 the year you move from intuition to data-driven decision making. According to Mckinsey, 90% of the top 50 banks around the world are already tapping into the insights offered by advanced analytics. But you don’t have to be a big bank to benefit from data analytics. With today’s SaaS-based solutions, this powerful advantage is available to financial organizations of every size. Here’s how to get started:
a. Use CRM and business analytics to understand how your credit union really works. Select a solution that allows you to visualize data in intuitive ways, and includes standard reports that can be used across your credit union. Most financial institutions like yours have terabytes of data, but until your staff members start slicing and dicing it, you won’t realize any value from it.
b. Make reviewing metrics part of day-to-day life for every department. From sales funnel status, to marketing ROI, to branch staffing levels, every department in your credit union can benefit from immediate access to relevant data.
c. Set KPIs on an enterprise, departmental and personal level, and review regularly. Sharing metrics and progress, where appropriate, can ensure that everyone in your credit union understands your strategic goals, and the individual role they have to play to meet them. Don’t forget to celebrate when targets are met, and reward top performers! Making the cultural shift to being more data-driven is easier when everyone sees the benefits.
Digitization + Innovation = Success in 2018
In today’s changing financial industry, a plan to digitize and innovate is essential to position your credit union for success. When you digitize your processes and start using data analytics routinely, your organization becomes nimbler. You can move from guesswork to making decisions based on real-world feedback, by monitoring member interactions, product uptake, and even branch and call center wait times.
You can also respond to change more effectively, whether that change results from regulatory shifts, technological advances, or the evolution of member expectations. Start the new year with a plan centered on the areas of focus I’ve outlined above, and you’ll be doing your bit to “future-proof” your credit union and ensure success going forward.