Turn transformation into differentiation

Recently while working through strategic planning gigs with credit unions, senior executives and Boards have been grappling with three critical areas of focus: delivering consistent, optimal member experiences; becoming more efficient, and getting teams working together better. In short, these credit unions are trying to become the type of credit union their members want them to become.

The answer to these challenges is not just to identify standard run-of-the-mill solutions but truly transformative solutions – that is, solutions that turn transformation into differentiation and create transformative changes across the entire organization. Regular, steady levels of change have been acceptable in the past but, today, much higher levels are required to create changes that transform how credit unions meet the evolving demands of consumers and wholly satisfy those three challenges noted above.

It used to be that we strove to create cultures and organizations that were agile; but agility is no longer enough. Agility means that you’re being reactionary to the changes someone else has already made. We’re proposing that you get ahead of the curve and transform your credit union today before a competitor forces you to change tomorrow … at which time it may be too late.

If your credit union is like many, you struggle to some extent with breaking the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. In some instances it’s an executive team that feels they have too much on their plate already; for others it’s long-tenured staff who are resistant to change; for others it’s simply an unawareness that there’s even a better way of doing what they’re doing. Regardless of the reason, transformative change is needed to keep your credit union relevant and get it growing in the manner you desire.

There’s no greater area of need for transformative change than the area of member experience. As consumer demands change and as your members – current and future – set higher and higher expectations, your credit union needs to change how it delivers at every touchpoint. If you transform the way your credit union looks at the member experience; your members will change the way they look at their experience with your credit union.

Unfortunately, a prominent sense of complacency has overcome many organizations, severely restricting their ability to initiate this transformation process. In a recent post, The Financial Brand said, the biggest risk among financial services firms is the inability of executives and organizations to embrace change, accept risks, and disrupt themselves. The past way in which we addressed these areas cannot be the future way if we’re going to meet future member demands.

Following are a handful of key steps to get you off the dime and start disrupting and transforming the way in which your credit union creates member experiences, improves efficiency, and builds a cohesive team:

  • Answer your “why” – understanding and then articulating why you need to change is an important first step. If you have a suitable vision statement, tie the “why” back to that. If not, get the team to work through the very valuable exercise of crafting your vision statement. In any case, your why needs to focus on your current and future membership and the credit union’s ability to satisfy their needs instead of expecting them to conform to your needs. Your “why” is always about them, not you.
  • Get new, fresh perspectives – Albert Einstein said, “A problem cannot be solved by the person who created it.” In most cases, the VP of Lending tries to fix the lending culture; the VP of Branches tries to fix the branch culture; and so on. However, to realize the needed transformative changes, those leaders should assemble teams of fresh new perspectives from all across the credit union (frontline and back office) and then get out of the way. Engaging new and different voices within a disciplined framework will allow your credit union to come up with new and transformative solutions (while also enhancing teamwork!).
  • Both halves of the equation – When looking at the numerous areas to improve member experiences, be sure to look at every touchpoint from both the internal and external perspectives. Most of the time, organizations just look to improve processes internally with little or no thorough or accurate consideration of the members’ feeling about that improvement. Be sure to deploy both process mapping and journey mapping in your efforts to establish the new transformative state – they are the equal halves of the transformation equation. Your employees and members will both benefit from the new, better ways.
  • Make it ongoing – The type of change we’re proposing is not a one-time event; it must be a continuous transformation process that becomes engrained in the fabric of your culture. The transformation teams you created in the step above need to stay in place (you can rotate employees on and off the team to spread the workload and learning) but the focus and efforts need to be ongoing for your transformation to take hold and stick for the long-term. There’s always a need to assess and re-assess to stay ahead and not be reactionary.
  • Measure, report, communicate – Define what success means from the very outset and establish how you’re going to measure it. Then be crystal-clear in determining the key performance measurements for each transformative initiative. (Many of these measurements should be taken directly from the member’s viewpoint!) Last, readily communicate your performance over time and celebrate any and all successes. All employees need to feel the gratification from your transformation impact. Use these wins to accelerate all staff, frontline and back office, to continue producing future transformative changes.

The retail-business landscape is littered with huge companies that lived by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Look at Blockbuster, Sears, and Borders as examples of organizations that were only making modest changes (or no changes at all) when they should’ve been looking to make transformative changes to their cultures and touchpoints. By the time their new competitors forced them to change, it was too late. Don’t let your credit union fall victim to the same malaise – make transformative changes today to be a relevant, thriving, growing credit union long into the future.

If your leadership team needs help executing the five key steps above and becoming the credit union your members need you to become, our firm would love to help. Please contact us at www.fi-strategies.com or 636-578-3280.

Paul Robert

Paul Robert

Paul Robert has been helping financial institutions drive their retail growth strategies for over 25 years. Paul is the Chief Executive Officer for FI Strategies, LLC, a small but mighty ... Web: fi-strategies.com Details