CU innovation must center on member need

One of the great challenges of technological innovation today is the understanding that for any product to find success, one cannot simply innovate for the sake of innovating. Finding true, sustained, long-term success is knowing how the product or service addresses a member need and solves that problem in some way.

Member need is the game

That idea was explained brilliantly in an article by The Financial Brand early last year, detailing how credit unions themselves need to understand that innovation can’t just start from anywhere and be successful. Innovation needs to begin where your members or customers are.

The article explains that in 1960, a New York bank introduced an ATM-like “Bankograph,” an amazing piece of technology for the era that automated payments and photographed receipts for account holders. Unfortunately, it was doomed to total failure for no other reason than it was probably too ahead of its time. Apparently, only unscrupulous gamblers and “unsavory types” using the machine didn’t want to be scrutinized by face-to-face tellers.

Customers were simply uncomfortable with automated technology at the time and trusted that one-on-one relationship they got from a teller. The Bankograph wasn’t solving a “member need” for customers at the time. It would be nine years later, September 2, 1969, before Chemical Bank would install an automated teller machine prototype in its branch in Rockville Center, New York.


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