Isn’t it time we give our members what we desire as consumers?
Consumer expectations have exponentially changed over the past few years and the proverbial bar has been raised! We can most definitely blame other industries for causing this “problem” and at this point, we must decide whether to up our game and take advantage of the opportunity it has created or idly allow the gap to widen.
So how did we get here? Our Industry has gone through an evolution of channels. First, we had the brick and mortar branch which at the time, was our only channel; then came numerous others: ATM, phone banking and member services, bill payment, online banking, and finally, mobile banking. Are the original channels now extinct? Absolutely not!
In fact, they are all just as important as ever, but they have developed as silos and are clearly perceived as such by our members. In fact, we typically even manage these channels in silos so, what’s the surprise, right? We assign a different position in our credit unions to independently manage each of these silos. How could we expect more than a segmented experience from a segmented operation?
The transition we have gone through is a technological evolution from Single to Multi to Omni Channel. It has been quite a journey that has led to a great opportunity to deliver beyond our members’ needs and expectations! It is now time to create coalescence between channels and provide extraordinary member experiences!
So what does Omni Channel look like? First of all, Omni Channel can be described as a “seamless” and “consistent” consumer experience across all delivery channels – online, brick and mortar, print, mobile, call center and social media. Think about how common the following scenario is for you as a consumer:
You visit Best Buy’s website and look for a product; you have some questions so you either do some online research or call a customer service agent for more information. You leave the site before completing the transaction, but later use your smartphone or tablet to complete it. When you log into the mobile site, you of course see the item in your shopping cart.
Next, you click on a recommended product and decide to purchase it as well. Since here is a store nearby you adjust your order for a “store pickup” rather than mail delivery. A few hours later, you pick up the item and interact with customer service in person. While there, you browse the conveniently placed in-store displays, which lead you to the purchase of more items before leaving the store with the original product.
You are a satisfied consumer! Credit Union Members and Retail Consumers are one and the same!
Likely, you did not evaluate your experience within each of these channels like businesses do internally, with department initiatives and metrics. Omni Channel creates a comprehensive experience with the Brand rather than channel by channel. The cohesion between them instills confidence in the consumer’s perception of a sound and efficient purchase. Research shows that 86% of consumers will pay more for a better experience; Omni Channel is just that solution for credit unions!
So what do we do about it? As you well understand by now, we are passionate about this endeavor, but we are the first to also admit that this transition isn’t easy. The first thing we need to do together is admit that we have a challenge and own it. Step out of your siloed role. Assess your member “centricity” from the outside in and be honest about the members’ perspective. Really think about it; when did you last try signing up on line for new membership, try calling into your credit union without a member number, or, dare I say, try these requests after hours! Was your experience satisfying? Did it impress you beyond your expectation or surprise you in any truly positive way?
Our first step suggestion is to assign an individual to adopt the role of Omni Channel Manager whose responsibility will be to document and assess all interactions with members across all channels. It will definitely highlight the fragmented interactions you have and give you the foundational understanding to help you develop a strategy to not only engage horizontally across channels but also acknowledge different strategies for differing segments of your membership while optimizing your channel relationships. The result of implementing this strategy should be more products per member, more transactions and interactions per product, overall increased brand recognition and relevance, and engaged members.
So let’s disrupt the status quo and give our members the “consumer experience” we all expect, desire, and deserve!