When the human touch matters in a touchscreen world
We essentially don’t have to leave our homes for anything anymore. With a portal to access our every need right at our fingertips, there’s nothing you’d need to leave the comfort of your couch to get. Whatever your need is, there’s an app for that. Dating, groceries, and clothes are less revolutionary and more obvious when you think of what you have access to through your smartphone screen. In 2019 though, you could go as far as to buy a car from your iPhone and never need to interact with a “pushy salesman” ever again. Or deal with a mortgage broker. Or even go into an office to sit with a therapist.
So, when technology gives us the tools to acquire everything we need on our own from the comfort of our own bed with the touch of a button, why and when do we still need the human touch?
Non-banks took the lead in mortgage lending recently (Source: Magnify Money) – companies like Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans, etc. So what is it that these non-bank FinTechs offer to consumers to capture their business that banks and credit unions don’t? Obviously, the human, in-person experience isn’t a factor here, or is it?
Quite straightforwardly, what they offer is convenience. Who would rather go take a number at a financial institution vs. being able to accomplish a task from anywhere they might be at any given time? Our time is a precious commodity, and mobile tools give us the freedom to access more of that resource. You mean to tell me I can apply for a mortgage during the free block of time I have on a Wednesday, instead of driving to a financial institution on a Saturday and potentially spending hours of my valuable time? You and I both know that’s pretty much a no-brainer.
However, it would be unwise for us to think that technology is inherently void of humanity. Forming technological tools requires a developer to be tapped into a human need. Just because someone now has access to the convenience of mobile deposits for example, and can skip the interaction with a teller, does not rob that transaction of its human touch. Someone had to identify the problem being faced by humans in our digitally evolved world and offer a solution that has the capacity to evolve with us.
And, just because you can turn to an app to accomplish a task, doesn’t mean you’ll never encounter a scenario where you don’t need the help of an actual person to generate a desired solution. Whether using a chat feature from within an app to engage the help of a live person, sending an email to a customer service department, calling in to a support line, or using a video chat option from within an app service to talk to an expert, there’s plenty of evidence that the digital world often makes us forget – we still need people. Not only that, but if we’re going to rely mostly on digital tools, they need to work; consistently and with as little margin for error as possible. The human touch required there is not only designing systems that function efficiently and reliably, but that have readily and seamlessly accessible human troubleshooting resources for when the inevitable “technical difficulties” are experienced.
Even though consumers need and want high tech apps and ways of doing business with Credit Unions, we still NEED to maintain a human touch in branch form – whether that means one main brick and mortar location for human-touch, or features like live-chat – the human aspect of banking will never go away because consumers will always want that assurance that there is an expert behind the “velvet curtain” they can go see if they absolutely need to when they have an emergency or important question.
Research continues to show that aside from low monthly fees and overall value, digital banking tools are the most important consideration factor when choosing a financial institution.
Source: Cornerstone Advisors survey of 2,015 US consumers between 21 and 72, Q3 2017
Those institutions would be wise to keep up and position themselves to meet that need and ensure that they’re in the running for that consideration. How we can do that is by
…attuning to the lifestyle and story of the character (in our case, member) we’re here to serve, and creating solutions for the problems they face which marry the sweet spot between an ever-evolving digital world, and the fact that we are still human beings occupying that world.
Strategizing born from the question “What is their primary problem, concern, question or pain point, and how can we generate a solution?” will keep you in the seat of a trusted ally beside your members, even if they never leave their couch.