Digital transformation isn’t about the tech, dummy

I never thought I would put an app from a restaurant on my phone, much less an app from that evil empire known as Starbucks. As it turns out, my granddaughters like having Starbucks bacon gouda sandwiches for breakfast on Thursdays. Reluctantly, I eventually realized that streamlining our Thursday mornings with the Starbucks app made sense.

Then a new Dunkin Donuts opened in town and that became our Tuesday spot. Of course, I downloaded and deployed the Dunkin app. I used it this very morning.

So by the time I received an offer of $5 off if I would download and use the Menchie’s frozen yogurt app, adding one more restaurant app seemed like a no-brainer. I configured the app, loaded it with $25 in stored value, and off I went to the only Menchie’s within 10 miles of my house.

The experience went south when I got there, though. I was informed as nicely as I possibly could be by a minimum wage yogurt clerk that this Menchie’s was not a corporate store, that the owners of this Menchie’s don’t like all the stuff “corporate” tries to force on them, and that the owners of this Menchie’s have no intention of spending money on the scanner necessary to accommodate the Menchie’s app.

Menchie’s corporate created an expectation. Menchie’s locally failed to meet that expectation.

I know, I know. You’re a credit union. You’re smarter than that. Are you sure?

Think back maybe 17 or 18 years ago when CRM software was all the rage. I worked at Jack Henry at the time and we had what I still consider to be an exceptional CRM system called Synapsys. Our pitch was: This is a great tool, but to really get any value from it, you need to change the way your credit union thinks about member engagement. And that change needs to happen top to bottom.

No matter how loud we yelled it, that key piece of advice often fell on deaf ears. Credit unions believed they could flip the Synapsys “on” switch and more sales would magically happen. Of course, they didn’t. Then credit unions wondered why their CRM investments weren’t paying off bigly.

I feel like we’re at a similar point with digital transformation. Credit unions are loading up on new and exciting technology, but I’m not sure they know what to do with it. Moreover, it seems like many of them believe flipping the “on” switch will fix everything. It won’t.

There are two things you need to understand about digital transformation. The first and obvious one is that technology is indeed changing. The second and by far more important one is that people are changing. At its core, credit unioning is a people business. If you can’t adjust to your changing membership and very deliberately meet and exceed their expectations, digital or otherwise, you’re going to end up no better off than the angry franchised Menchie’s down the street. Don’t be a Menchie’s.

John San Filippo

John San Filippo

John is the co-founder of OmniChannel Communications, Inc., a company that specializes in B2B marketing to community financial institutions. He started out in the savings and loan industry, but wisely ... Web: Details

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