Are we there yet? Five steps to a quicker & easier member experience

I often tease my mother that the one thing she didn’t teach me was patience. I’ve never been good at waiting. Very little in life moves quickly enough for me. Before I’m finished with one task or one event, I’m already planning for the next. Having said that, I am now raising a daughter who is actually more impatient than me. Her impatience goes beyond the typical, “are we there yet” variety that most parents endure. One phrase she’s famous for in our house is, “this is going to take forever.” For MacKenzie, life moves far too slowly. I hear myself repeating phrases that my mom once said to me, “Girl, you are going to wish your life away.” “Enjoy what we are doing now. Stop worrying about what comes next.” One of the many lessons my daughter has taught me is that patience, or lack thereof, is all about context.

Filene recently launched a pilot in coordination with Washington State Employees Credit Union called, QCash. QCash is a payday loan alternative that leverages technology to ensure that a member can move from application to funding in just six clicks—all in less than 60 seconds. When we first launched the pilot there was some skepticism from the market that we could help members so simply and quickly, even with the help of technology. Senior leaders at credit unions called and said, “Tansley, this just isn’t possible. Are you sure?”

A few weeks ago my colleague, George Hofheimer, was giving a guest lecture at Stanford University to a group of MBA students. He shared some of Filene’s newest projects and explained how QCash is built to move members from application to funding in six clicks and 60 seconds. The response he received from a group of mostly 20-somethings was, “60 seconds. Hmm. That seems like a long time.”

For some of us who have been working within financial services for many years, sixty seconds sounds outrageous. It’s just so fast. We worry about compliance. We worry that something will be missed.  We may even wonder why moving so quickly matters. For a large percentage of our members and potential members life has always moved quickly. Gen Y and Gen Z expect experiences like a small dollar loan application to be seamless and fast. If it takes an hour or longer they’ll be asking, “Are we there yet?”

It’s time to start making experiences at our credit unions easier. Here are five steps to get started:

  • Invite in the “eyes of a child.” Children are naturally curious and not afraid to ask questions and challenge why something is the way it is. Invite someone who has never been a part of your processes to come in and poke around. You might be surprised at what you uncover that might be ripe for improvement.
  • Ask the team. Ask your subject matter experts to share the process for opening new accounts and loans. Be sure to ask: What are the top three things that often get in your way or that cause member frustration? Your frontline team will have lots of insights that will help you simplify the process.
  • Use your data. Nothing is worse for a user than having to input information that you should already know. Consumer awareness of the power of big data is high. There is an expectation that if you know something about me as a member then I should not have to spend time inputting that information repeatedly.
  • Gauge Effort Expectations. As Filene has worked with credit unions to benchmark member effort, one critical element that we analyze is the “member effort gap.” This is the difference between how difficult a member thought a process would be and how difficult the process actually was. Understanding member expectations and how we are delivering on those expectations can help the credit union focus on improving the processes that are having the most negative impact on your members’ experience.
  • Be fast when they want it. Take time when it matters. The strongest path to long-term member engagement is to create fast and easy experiences in those instances when members want to move quickly. This has an added benefit of freeing frontline staff to spend time engaging with members when they want extra support and guidance in certain situations.

As credit unions look to attract, retain and fully engage the next generation of members it is essential that we create the seamless experiences they demand. What we once thought was seamless and easy, may just be too cumbersome today. Let’s not leave our members asking, “Are we there yet?”

Tansley Stearns

Tansley Stearns

As Filene Research Institute’s Chief Impact Officer, Tansley Stearns moves the best of Filene’s research and innovation into action. With more than 17 years of credit union leadership ... Web: filene.org Details

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