As 2019 draws to a close, we’d like to reflect on all the conversations we’ve had throughout the year and share the credit union branching trends we see coming to the forefront in 2020. The main theme we’re seeing is “change”. Where the focus is not about specific changes themselves, but instead on the agility that credit unions will need in both their branches and operations to adapt to emerging trends throughout the coming decade. Credit unions are developing this agility through understanding their purpose and empowering their staff.
But what does agility really mean in the context of a branch, and how can a credit union achieve it?
Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean: chasing bright shiny objects and reacting to trends. In the 2010s this resulted in a lot of iPads that never got used by members and ITMs that members and staff weren’t quite sure what to do with.
Rather, agility means an ability for credit unions to adapt to change by understanding what is actually changing, be it member expectations for the digital and retail experiences or evolving product demand in their market, and responding proactively and in a purposeful manner.
Let’s look back at the iPad example. Many credit unions installed them without purpose because they were a new thing, and they ended up collecting dust. But other credit unions noticed that in some areas, members just weren’t engaging with the mobile app and coming in for most basic transactions. They saw this as an educational opportunity, and purchased tablets alongside training branch staff to identify opportunities to educate members and introduce them to the app.
The main idea in these two cases was the same, but the latter was purpose driven as well as supported by the branch staff. It’s this purpose that drives effective and relevant changes, and it’s through empowering your employees that can make these changes stick.
What does it mean to empower employees? It means that instead of training them to react to situations in a predetermined or scripted way, you help them develop a skillset and an understanding of your purpose and enable them to make decisions on their own and work autonomously. Employees who understand your purpose and align their decision making process to it are much more agile in responding to change than those who need to learn a new script, and they ultimately take more pride in their work and create more meaningful and memorable experiences. They are more likely to take initiative and discover better ways of doing things.
As you look forward to 2020, think about how your credit union embodies agility, purpose, and empowerment and how these ideas can impact your branch strategy.