There is no shortage of speculation on the number of trends and types of challenges that lie ahead for credit unions in the coming months. While the top industry priorities differ — depending on which study you review or expert you believe — FinTech, along with the knowledge of how to effectively use account holder data, are expected to play pivotal roles in helping traditional institutions remain competitive with the many new players entering the financial services arena.
Interestingly, Fintech — which is said to have been coined by CitiCorp in the early ‘90s to overcome a reputation for resisting technological collaboration with outsiders — was later added to the financial industry glossary to describe technology innovations that support back-office functions, and improve efficiencies and service delivery.
Today, technology and digital service platforms add convenience, speed, and access to multi-functional capabilities and services that consumers rely on to manage their daily finances. In a recent survey by Market Force, 37 percent of respondents identified a lack of help to improve their financial well-being as a reason to switch financial service providers. For technology giants — like Google, Amazon, Apple and a host of others — this has opened a whole new market opportunity.
Avoiding technology is no longer a viable alternative
While credit unions may lack the scope and scale to compete with larger institutions and the FinTech giants, they can address the technology elephant in the room by using data analytics more effectively to capture information that identifies the specific needs of account holders, and by offering personalized expertise and services that will help consumers to maintain or improve their financial situation. In today’s technology-driven world, failure to do so can lead to increased account closings and a decline in overall performance.
Following are a few ways to get the full benefit of emerging technology innovations in order to build a more tech-savvy workplace for your employees, deliver a more consistent service experience for account holders and boost your ability to compete in your market:
1. Make sure your account and program management software are up to date. Maintaining access to intuitive information that helps you determine account holder needs is key to making effective program offering decisions, as well as delivering consistent, exceptional service and identifying strategy changes to address emerging consumer trends.
If your core software doesn’t provide the details you need, or it requires employees to manually key in information to access different reports and account status, it’s time to consider an upgrade. New, intuitive data analytics can provide vital information to help you keep track of daily account activity, make sure your service programs are performing efficiently and maintain consistent communication with account holders.
2. Upgrade outdated computer systems. As consumer service expectations continue to change, old-school computer systems that continually require upgrades to avoid security vulnerabilities or other problems, or that operate in silos are inefficient and can limit program and service capabilities.
On the other hand, cloud technology offers greater access to data, provides a safeguard against on-site computer glitches, ensures regular data backups and allows everyone to work from the same software version at all times. Replacing cumbersome PCs also frees up workspace that can be used for other purposes to increase workplace efficiency.
3.Take a look at your training strategy. Successful outcomes depend largely on how well employees understand the capabilities your technology provides, as well as how to access and use data to get the most benefit for your institution and your account holders.
Cross-training programs allow you to maintain consistent program knowledge among multiple individuals and ensures uninterrupted excellence in account holder service during staff vacations or illnesses.
Providing different training platforms helps to ensure that all employees benefit from the information, whether they learn more effectively through one-on-one interaction, group settings or online offerings.
Off-site training opportunities allow individuals to step away from the everyday responsibilities for a full emersion in the subject matter. Training that provides an opportunity to network with industry colleagues gives your staff exposure to new perspectives and strategies that can be valuable when they return to your institution. And training options that include professional education credits (CPEs) offer an extra benefit for employees with specialized degrees or areas of interest.
In addition to making sure everyone is up-to-speed on program management tools, new technology and account holder service techniques, your employee training investment also can energize your staff, increase their confidence level when dealing with complex issues or account holder needs, and improve overall morale.
Address the future with confidence
According to a recent consumer survey by BAI, the top banking priorities for 2019 include:
- delivery of tools and options to customize banking solutions;
- improving the omnichannel experience;
- transforming branches for a better in-person experience with experts to help achieve financial goals; and
- enhancing the mobile channel.
None of these can be accomplished successfully without the support of effective technology and informed, confident personnel.
As FinTech giants and other non-financial service organizations continue their migration into the banking services arena, you can protect your institution’s interests and increase your opportunities for success with a better understanding of how to utilize data and innovation wisely. Partnering with a service provider that offers expertise in profitability program development, technology and training proficiency can give you the on-going support necessary to achieve better performance for your institution, improved service experiences for your account holders and the ability to remain competitive in the ever-changing marketplace.