In 2014, I met Josh Linkner for the first time. I heard him speak several times before, and he had just published his third book, “The Road to Reinvention.” Prior to becoming a full-time author and speaker, Linkner was the founder and former CEO of ePrize and was the former General Partner and CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, a Dan Gilbert company focused on rebuilding urban areas like Detroit through technology and entrepreneurship.
From my position in Detroit metro area, serving as CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group, I took great interest in Mr. Linkner’s reinvention themes. As a partner of Quicken Loans’ founder and CEO Dan Gilbert, he was able to witness first-hand the disruption being brought to the mortgage lending industry by Gilbert’s team. As credit unions expanded their mortgage lending due to the evolution of the mortgage industry, both prior to the housing-led Great Recession and now during the current 10-year economic expansion, Quicken Loans built a branchless mortgage lending machine that merged high-tech with high-touch to reinvent and redefine the mortgage lending experience.
In his book, Josh Linkner encourages all businesses to do what he describes as, “disrupt or be disrupted.” He suggests that those businesses and industries most vulnerable to failure are those who fail to embrace the reinvention ethos, and they need to be willing to cannibalize their own products before someone else does. He suggested that every touch point of the customer experience should be monitored, measured and retooled. The goal was to create vivid customer experiences by overhauling staff culture, reimagining customers’ expectations and forging a legacy as leaders in customer experience excellence.
Josh Linkner was an early writer and consultant in 2014 when the concept of “disruption” became so prevalent. I still admire today how his concepts challenge us as credit union leaders to let go of the past, to embrace vulnerability in the willingness to take risks and to occasionally fail, to take a contrarian approach as we compete, to imagine the possibilities of big thinking and to be willing to put ourselves out of business in certain product areas if that is what it takes to meet member needs.
It seems that the “disruption” movement gave way to the theme of customer experience, or for credit unions, member experience. More and more credit unions are creating a Chief Experience Officer position and member experience teams. They realize that the competitive battles of the future will be won through product excellence by addressing the need for enhancements in service at every touch point.
CU Solutions Group is a credit union service organization that provides solutions in areas of technology, marketing, human resources and advisory services. We recently identified five core areas of reinvention needed in the credit union space. We then aligned our service offerings with these areas, including branding, member experience, digital technology, risk management and talent management.
One of the most important of these areas is member experience. And that is why our board of directors recently approved the acquisition of MemberXP, a company that has been helping credit unions improve the member experience for many years. Founded by CEO Constance Anderson, MemberXP helps credit unions with two core products, its MemberShoppers mystery shopping service and MemberView Omnichannel Voice of the Member, a platform for analyzing and acting on member survey input for every experience and every delivery channel.
With over 100 credit union clients ranging from small to over $9 billion in assets, MemberXP offers a la carte services and a complete member experience suite to help credit unions of all sizes improve in this important area.
With CUSG’s acquisition, Constance will serve as a valued consultant to help CUSG transition the business into our marketing solutions division headed by David Dean. These products can be melded with our CUBE TV Studios video production capability so that credit unions can create short videos that demonstrate “A day in the life of a member.” These can be used to help sensitize credit union staff to the realities faced by members every day.
In his book, “The Customer Service Revolution,” author John R. DiJulius suggests that when his firm does consulting for businesses to help improve customer service, this is a starting point: creating a “day in the life of a customer” video to help understand customer circumstances, pain points and needs.
An example of this was their work for TravelCenters of America where a training video titled “A Day in the Life of a Driver” was created to depict a typical day of a driver who has not been home or seen his family for an extended period of time. It shows all the demands he has personally and professionally. His goal is to make it home for his son’s basketball game that evening. He hasn’t seen his son play, and his son wants him at the game. He finds out that more and more drivers he works with are being laid off, which makes him concerned for his job. He finally makes all his stops and is headed home to see his son’s game. Just then, one of his tires blows and he shouts, “Not now, not a tire!” And you hear his son’s voice saying, “You’ve got to make it home tonight. You have to see me play!” You realize he probably isn’t going to see his son’s game as a result of his flat tire. The last thing you see is the driver pulling into a TravelCenters of America truck-repair location.
DiJulius suggests that creating a strong service culture is intertwined with the analytics associated with monitoring and improving service pain points. And so, for credit unions, both service culture training and tools like those offered by MemberXP work together to help create the winning reinvention culture reference by Josh Linkner in “The Road to Reinvention.”
CUSG looks forward to working with our current and future clients to better understand the unique needs for service reinvention in mortgage lending, auto lending and financial services delivered through great checking, debit and credit card offerings. Credit unions have the advantage of a mission-driven philosophy, a strong value brand and the trust that members have in them. However, the competition today is out to disrupt and change the way that we get our financial services.
It’s up to every credit union leader to use great tools and resources to create and implement a member experience plan that seeks to “disrupt or be disrupted.” This will require an ongoing assessment of service excellence in all core service offerings at every touch point. MemberXP is focused on helping credit unions do this, now in partnership with CUSG.
And the reward for excellence in member experience disruption is current and future loyal members who become your best advertising medium through word-of-mouth referrals. A deeper share of wallet is what every credit union wants as members use all of your services, rather than just one or two. Excellent member service melded with great technology tools will also court the coveted millennial segment and help credit unions grow their membership for the future.