As 2019 winds to a close, your credit union leadership should be setting their sights on 2020 and what needs to be done from a strategic and tactical perspective to grow and serve the membership. It’s time for a new decade and, may we suggest, it’s also time for a new business strategy!
Not surprisingly, many of you will be setting deposit growth as a primary focus. Others will be setting their sights on deeper, organic relationships with their members. While still others will see member satisfaction as their goal. All these strategies are critical and necessary to grow and remain relevant, however each focus could be accomplished by focusing squarely on one singular strategy: the regular, continuous experiences of members and employees.
Unintentionally, deposit-gathering usually leads to commoditizing on price; deepening relationships can lead to product-pushing and relationships that are unprofitable; and while member satisfaction is certainly altruistic and makes us feel good it doesn’t necessarily translate to more future business. The one retail growth strategy that has proven to drive future and highly profitable business is focusing on an experience culture that differentiates your credit union from all other financial service providers.
Retail banking has and always will be a people-business. So, the credit unions that focus first and foremost on the people-side of their business strategies will be the ones that “win”. Create the most consistently positive experiences for members and staff and the deposits and relationships and loyalty will (eventually) follow. You won’t have to worry nearly as much about price, products, or locations to attract and retain members and employees – both of them will “pay” for the outstanding experiences you create.
“Goods and services are no longer enough to foster economic growth and maintain prosperity,” says Joseph Pine and James Gilmore in their landmark book, The Experience Economy. “To realize revenue growth and increased engagement, the staging of experiencesmust be pursued.” Your primary strategic and tactical focus should be on staging the absolute and consistently best experiences for members and employees. This singular focus has proven to accelerate all other strategic focuses to their desired levels.
If you have a Chief OPERATIONS Officer today at your credit union, you need a Chief ExperienceOfficer in 2020. If you have Enterprise RISK Management, you need Enterprise ExperienceManagement. If you have BRANCH Managers, you need ExperienceManagers. The point is: you can’t just say experience is important – even if it’s a strategic line item; you need to take demonstrative action day-in and day-out to show it is the most important area of focus in your organization.
Further, creating an experience culture touches every aspect of your organization. From marketing efforts that are personalized, not generic; to physical environments that are welcoming and engaging, yet appropriate for each unique market; to products that work and your members actually need and use; to processes that have been streamlined and debunk the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality; to your people who are service-oriented, more than process-oriented, and willing to go above-and-beyond to create those memorable experiences (internally and externally!). No one and nothing can be excluded from transitioning your culture to the new experience focus in 2020.
Here’s a six-pack of ways to help make that happen:
- Make it a prominent part of your strategic plan. Maybe the most prominent part? How serious and bold are you about putting members and employees first?
- Define it and personalize it. Don’t leave it to interpretation – make sure everyone is crystal clear on what they need to do to be successful.
- Set a goal and give it a high weight. After you’ve defined it, establish the standard and build it into all performance scorecards.
- Be ready to consistently measure and assess. What gets measured gets attention, right? Some aspects of “experience” are hard to quantify but that’s no reason to not measure any of it.
- Clear all channels of communication. Keep the culture standards visible and living and consistently get feedback from employees and members.
- Hold everyone accountable for performance. Focus first on the positives – recognize and celebrate successes! But, also acknowledge that this is a non-negotiable – everyone must perform up to the standard.
Credit Unions that invest in creating this type of experience culture not only find a place in the hearts of their members, they also capture a greater share of their wallet. To think about it purely from a business standpoint, The Experience Economyprovides numerous examples where consumers have proven they will reward retail businesses with their loyalty, are willing to tell their family and friends, and even pay more for the products and services. Think about what happens at your local Starbucks hundreds of times every day … and your credit union’s members are no different!
Again, from The Experience Economy: “People now spend less time and money on goods and services, and more on experiences that engage them in a personal and memorable way.” Your strategic focus should be on creating your experience culture and those tactical plans should focus specifically on how to create personal and memorable experiences so as to standout for all the right and positive reasons.
If there’s any “bad” news about having this focus, it’s that there is no finish line. Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to say, “We’ve accomplished our experience culture … check that off our list.” This focus will be truly evolutionary, fully transformative, but never-ending. You’ll always need to be raising the bar. But isn’t it more rewarding to be focused on (and investing in) your members and employees than chasing lowest-price product offerings and living on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest technology?
If you’re seriously ready to set your sights on a seriously outstanding experience culture in 2020, we need to talk. If you want to have 20/20 vision on your experience culture in 2020, we have the tools to help you succeed. Please reach out to www.fi-strategies.com/contact-us/ or 636-578-3280.