Ongoing: Sharing our metamorphosis of digital transformation

The butterflies are finally arriving. About 18 months ago, I joined more than three dozen credit union executives (henceforth “we” and “our”) on a journey towards being digital first while balancing the personal touch. The pandemic accelerated the desire, the need, and the pace of implementation. 

The intent of this article is to provide you with insight into our focused initiatives and give you practical steps that will help you accelerate your own digital transformation. Our approach has been pragmatic and purposeful – we are focused on the member, their needs, and enabling our journeys to meet these evolving needs. Evolving is key as we must measure, we must be agile, and we need to keep adapting.

From Transforming Branches to Transforming Member Experiences Across Channel

The branch is currently the hub of our transactions. Ideally, we would like the member to transact with us online but there are two important considerations here. First, we are not 100% digitally capable and second, we made a deliberate decision to humanize transactions by enabling our people.

  • Training, to enable our people to serve members effectively. At a high level our training is intended to assist with empathy, financial know-how, and technology expertise. Our people need to be bona fide mentors who are focused on the member’s best interest.
  • Technology to assist with automation to avoid the frustration of mundane tasks for our team members and for our members to be served at any time. Our investments included bots, RPA, and intelligent AI-based cross-selling.
  • Meeting the member at their point of need. We wanted to “be there now” and give our members the choice of how they wanted to connect with us. Some did online, some sought us out by phone, and many visited us in person.
  • Driving efficiency through convenient scheduling. We wanted to respect two especially important people here – our member and our team member. We value everyone’s time and wanted to make sure that we have the expert ready to serve the member. Remember, make every moment matter.
  • Homegrown multimedia content that is focused on member needs. We took our journeys and started putting content together to assist members (and team members) with these journeys. Words, images, voice, calculators, and videos combined will give us a powerful library of purposeful content.

From Assisting with Transactions by Facilitating Everyday Money Movement

Consumers use financial institutions to store, borrow, and transact. The account opening process focused on money storage; the lending process focuses on borrowing. These are important but they also are infrequent. Paying bills, moving money, transacting – these are frequent. 

Purposefully, we wanted to enable money movement. The functionality used by the member could be withdrawing cash from an ATM to paying for a gas with a debit card or paying a recurring bill via their credit card. Our mantra for money movement was to simplify the transaction with this need, “how much, to whom, by when.” We audited our payments program with the intent of unifying, simplifying, and modernizing it. 

  • Unifying: Unfortunately, payments are scattered throughout many enterprises. Retail owns debit, lending owns credit, ATMs are the responsibility of operations, network sits in IT, P2P lies in digital, marketing owns loyalty, and fraud is either shared or isolated. Then there is bill payment, bill management, A2A, ACH, etc. 
  • Simplifying: Horribly complicated solutions that need to be simplified. Yes, the CEO should be able to mentor a member to move money. And it should be so easy that a member then should be able to mentor another member.
  • Modernizing: We changed 11 titles from Director of Plastics to Director of Money Movement. Isn’t the plastic card passe? Why do I have to instant issue a plastic card so you can add it to your digital wallet? We need the plastic for backup, no more.

From Delivering on Personalized Insight to Enhancing Member Share of Wallet

There is so much talk about big data, analytics, predictive intelligence. Then there is the process, governance, reporting, insight – this list goes on and on. We decided to be deliberately focused with three goals – know more, interact with relevance, and enhance share of wallet. To begin with the end in mind was our mantra. What good is all the insight if we do not increase our share of wallet? 

  • We first defined what we wanted to accomplish. Key players met and we looked at our available data, brainstormed ideas, and we then created a wish list. This list included about 30+ projects which we then further prioritized.
  • Our prioritization formula was based on five factors – will it help us engage our members, will it reduce our cost, will it help us drive revenue, will it help us become internally efficient, and is this required for compliance. 
  • We wanted our progress/success to be a journey, so we put in mini-projects to drive small gains along with large gains so “big-data” became a living and growing project within our organizations. 
  • Member onboarding, loan-boarding, and member reboarding became a priority we pursued. I can assure you that a “first impression” goes a long way in building the perfect relationship. We broke onboarding into three simple messages and our results have been phenomenal.
  • We finally looked at technology for collecting, analyzing, and sharing the data. Please note, we did this after making progress with the data at our disposal. Please do not start with choosing technology as the driver of your business strategy.

We have two other key initiatives that I will share with you. The first one is to ensure that we are sensitive to diversity, inclusion, and equity. The second one is to ensure that we meet our commitment of purpose – deliver financial wellness to those we serve.

In closing, I would like you to know that we focused everything on our member’s needs, around their different financial needs (versus the financial solutions we offer). We insisted on wanting to be a financial partner/ally of the member we served. Our strategy was omni-channel, the member could seek us out from their vantage point. Finally, we realize that we must keep driving improvement, which comes from measuring progress and tracking.

Our group has grown, and we meet every month via web to share progress. If you would like to explore the possibility of listening in or participating do let me know ( I wish you the absolute best with your digital transformation initiatives.

Sundeep Kapur

Sundeep Kapur

Sundeep has been assisting financial institutions with their omni-channel strategies - a more effective branch, a better online experience, & great consumer engagement. He is the author of an online ... Web: Details