As the holiday season continues to pack the roads, aisles, and airwaves, the retail mayhem will eventually subside and thoughts will be directed towards 2016. Whether 2015 treated you with kind hands or a slap in the face, the winter solstice has passed, and for we here in North America that means each day forward has a little more sunshine. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. So what did we see in 2015 and what can we expect in 2016?
Some of the predictions in 2015 were:
-Big Data will get bigger: capturing, storing, and leveraging data collected from interactions and transactions can be sliced and diced in various analytical models to predict tactical and strategic directions.
-Cloud architecture gains transaction: software as a service (SAAS) accelerates time to market, streamlines costs, and makes operational budgets more predictable.
-Computing everywhere: communicating and transacting on-the-go has grown beyond convenience and is now necessary. Users demand the ability to connect safely and securely in both their public and private lives.
The above statements may not have been the product of a soothsayer or even that bold. Regardless, they were accurate and will continue to play a role in the upcoming year.
What we can expect in 2016:
Data overproduction and entanglement: every application and device will continue to gather data on the transactions at hand. Data storage will not be the problem, but rather access and use. Organizations that can successfully store and make ready their data in a fashion that empowers sales and marketing efforts will rise above the competition.
Big brick and mortar under threat: costly large scale retail buildings and operations will suffer with more consumers turning to ecommerce destinations, local discount stores, and broad service grocery stores. Time is tight for all, and if one can’t find what she seeks online, special trips to massive malls won’t be of interest if the frequently visited supermarket is well stocked.
Online information gains tremendous trust: the first destination of Millennials is not the mall, but the Internet. More importantly, customers will scream online if service is remotely underwhelming, and will do just the same when they are given white glove treatment. As such, one can find a shopper just like himself in the comments section of a particular retailer and will take that testimonial as gospel.
With all that in mind, one might likely ask how does this peek into the past and glimpse into the future affect me and my credit union. The answer is quite simple, and one you’ve probably already figured out:
Your ‘Big Data’ is your customer data: who they are, where they are, what they like and dislike, and how to contact them. If you don’t have that data, then start gathering it. If you do but you can’t get to it, find someone who can. If you are using it, just continue to add to the pile and employ analysts to determine trends and make predictions to keep your business growing.
Be on the ground and in the sky: your brick and mortar branch locations are key to connecting with the public, and likely your traditional member base. That said, without a substantive online presence, you will alienate the inevitable majority of customers who demand the same services online as they would in branch. Millennials are the future members, so the faster you can connect to them, the more likely you will not be retired to the big box graveyard.
Build trust by giving a voice to your customers: ask your membership what they think, listen to what they say, and let them sing your praises. Consumers have a growing trust in other consumers, and not the ads with which they are constantly bombarded on TV and in print. Share your organizations goals online in social media. Be everywhere they are. Become the trusted source of knowledge and expertise. Engage in conversation both in branch and online to empower those that have already chosen your credit union as their partner. In turn, reward your membership for their loyalty and incentivize them to find like-minded friends and family with referral and recommendation programs.