Removing friction from member experiences

As consumers, we like things to be easy. And once we’ve made up our minds, we want to take action immediately. It’s no wonder we seek out companies that are easy to work with and that have found clever ways to make the experience convenient.

Think about the last time you were researching a solution and got frustrated because all of the information wasn’t easily accessible. Or, you were at the point of purchase and had to delay, or even select a different provider, because you were unable to complete the process.

This friction is very costly and hurts the relationship with the member. It’s so damaging that 60% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after they had one poor customer experience. (Microsoft)

I recently switched internet providers (yes, a notoriously fraught task) and had a number of frustrations pop up that came down to friction. I was told the switch would happen seamlessly on a specific date and, surprise, it didn’t work that way. Troubleshooting with the available online information didn’t work. After a lengthy conversation with a representative, I bought a new router and had a technician come to complete the switch at the utility pole. A couple days and I was back online, but the whole experience reminded me why I dread doing this unless the price is worth it.

That’s certainly not something we, as credit union leaders, want to hear – a member saying they’re grudgingly willing to deal with the pain of signing up because the price is good. That is not a good starting place for the relationship. Friction in the experience directly leads to bad reviews, a loss of loyalty and higher member churn.

To make our experience shine and give members a reason to become, or stay, loyal, we can work towards reducing friction. Start by thinking about the member first and supporting their journey with effective back-end processes.

Map out the journey for your member. Looking at the whole process through your member’s eyes can clue you in on current roadblocks. Think about the problems that your members are trying to solve: sending a child to college without burying them in debt, renovating a starter home in a cost-effective way, making the most of rewards programs while doing everyday shopping. That frame of reference gives you an easy place to start when you map out how your members research, select, and sign up for a product or service.

While you lay out the experience, take note of places where things get clunky or inconvenient. Where does the member repeat themself, give information that you have in your system, switch channels to get an answer, or wait. These are prime places to ask how you can cut down on the friction. Some sources of friction you can eliminate and some are inevitable; we will always need to verify a member’s identity. However, there are options for doing this once and at the necessary time.

Remember, you don’t have to always invest in sleek tech solutions to get things done. Be creative and keep the member’s experience in mind.

Make the answers to questions easy to find. We invest a lot of time and money into our different communication channels. Make sure they are working smoothly and effectively by answering current and potential members’ questions in an accessible way.

For example, is it easy to find complementary products or services with tutorials and walk-throughs that explain how to sign up and use them? Do you know what information is most sought-out on your website or through your contact center and have you made it easy to locate the answers to these frequently asked questions?

Adding a chatbot to your website or in your mobile app can help answer questions even quicker and, ideally, help the user complete the next steps in making a transaction or adding a product or service. Ideally, the member has the option to stay on the channel they are using from the start and complete the entire buyer’s journey.

Give your employees more complete information and power. When a member chooses to interact with someone on your team, does that staff member have all the tools to be successful? Many of us rely on multiple systems to support our various products and services. This can mean information about transactions, pending applications, appointments, email interactions, and previous staff conversations are all in different places.

Having disjointed information makes it difficult, or impossible, for your team members to further a conversation and take the next best action. It can also lead to a member reaching out to remedy the same or similar issues multiple times, being made to wait while staff look for the correct information, and not being offered a product or service that would provide a lot of value. Make the member’s picture more complete for your team. Then, train your staff  to provide a complete solution while they have the member’s attention.

Additionally, we may have our roles and departments siloed so that front-line employees have to get approval or pass-off members when it would make more sense for them to take immediate action. For compliance, there are times we won’t be able to cut this step out. But as you look through your processes, really think about whether it’s necessary to add friction to the experience.

Use automation whenever possible to cut down on wait time. We’ve gotten very used to having things available at all hours of the day. Companies are increasingly giving us instant access or confirmation to the stuff and information we seek out. This makes time a huge friction factor because of our expectations. Leveraging technology can help us provide answers sooner and give access to new accounts or services quicker.

Take a good look at all the places where you still require a staff member to act on an application or request for service. Then, ask yourself if it is necessary or if there is a quicker alternative. You may find that you’ve added roadblocks where you can strip things down and simplify.

Automated decisioning for members who can immediately qualify cuts down on time for them, plus frees up staff to dig into more complex cases. You can have digital communications automatically triggered to send when members browse your various web pages, read a blog post or otherwise show they are in the market for a new solution. This can provide them with timely information and nudge them along to make a decision. Going back to chatbots, adding chat and text services with the ability to answer questions, complete transactions and assist with setting up new products and services makes your credit union easier to work and more efficient.

Credit unions have traditionally been known for their stellar service and member-first attitude. Let’s keep up that trend by making sure we remove roadblocks and friction in the member experience. Look at things with some fresh eyes and don’t be afraid to rethink how you operate so that members are excited to interact with you and tell their friends and family about how great it is to work with your credit union.

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer is a credit union marketing consultant and the owner of Jennifer Laud Consulting. She has a background in strategy and a passion for positioning credit unions to find their ... Web: Details