e-Service Is Not a Task, It's a Long-Term Strategy

Far too often in our industry, we take a task-based approach to member service and the products we offer. We identify a process, investigate and outline a solution, acquire the approval, buy it, turn it on, then we're off to something else. Occasionally, we look back and wonder how we fell short of the potential and promise of last year's project. It's out there, but it's got no punch.

 

By CU*Answers

 

Far too often in our industry, we take a task-based approach to member service and the products we offer. We identify a process, investigate and outline a solution, acquire the approval, buy it, turn it on, then we're off to something else. Occasionally, we look back and wonder how we fell short of the potential and promise of last year's project. It's out there, but it's got no punch.

Now consider the Internet. For the last several years the fever has been high and we all rushed to get our web pages up, find some interesting services and partners to portal over to, and implement transaction-based home banking for our membership. Check one, check two, check three.

There are some glowing examples of successful e-service-credit unions that stand up and talk about great volumes of loans being made that started with a www.com. There are dozens of awards to be found for web pages outlining the creativity and outreach of many credit unions, and companies like WESCO can tout millions of minutes logged by members using transaction banking sites. But there are also many cases where web pages go stale for months at a time, where promising portal partners have left the building, and where transaction banking sites are little more than visual audio response. Indeed, the opinions about whether or not e-service is working are far apart.

Key to your perception is whether your organization crossed off the acquisition of e-service products like a task, or has continued to revisit the issue over and over as a long-standing strategy-requiring short-term tactics under constant review. The potential for real relationship building and the creation of opportunity is becoming more available every day. The ability to parallel real self-service success stories in the general marketplace is within the reach of almost all credit unions in today's marketplace.

The greatest changes in the future will most likely be focused around the direct interaction of the member with credit union transaction-based services. These services will not only be the current account inquiry and transfer services, but will expand until they are perceived by the member as true ''self service'' options. With options ranging from joining the credit union and monitoring the servicing of accounts, to initiating savings and loan relationships and receiving correspondence, this new channel can become a competitive advantage as clear as the ''pay at the pump'' tactics at the corner gas station.

Paramount to the entire process is a credit union's plan to complete a secure e-compliant segment to round out the member experience. Credit unions must plan to align and integrate the open structure of the web page and the secure structure of transaction sites with the credit union's core operational software, so that over time, the member experience becomes more and more consistent across all delivery channels.

In the last year WESCO and the CU*ANSWERS team changed the standards for our Internet space. Our long term strategies for the e-service channel now state that we will not have a mature offering until every credit union product and service can be processed through the channel in the following steps:

  • Declare a product or service - This would include presenting the service, its pricing, and well-rounded competitive market statements, process descriptions and member aids.
  • Initiate and stage a process - Transferring data from the member's keyboard direct to the credit union's database for updating, or staging it for processing by a credit union employee, such as for a new membership application.
  • Underwrite a product - Evaluating a member's eligibility for a service or product, and taking action, such as approving and opening a certificate or a savings account.
  • Process/create new relationships - Moving data from the member's keyboard through an evaluation process, and finally granting the member a service or product, with automated creation of the relationship in the credit union's database . . . without any credit union employee intervention.

In reality there are several other areas necessary for a true self service environment, but this is a start and a new standard from our initial product offering. In the end we think the byproducts of self service might become even more significant than the services themselves. We see these efforts being increasingly leveraged into a credit union's desktop delivery channels, with sales tools that are documented, include well-rounded sales presentations, and connect to new interactive partners. The result is a ''Sales-Assisted Self Service'' model that will allow credit unions to achieve their goals as sales culture-based organizations. But that is a discussion for another day.

What are your long-term strategies for your overall e-service channel? We would love to know!


Randy Karnes, CEO
rkarnes@cubase.org
(800) 327-3478 ext 101

 

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Dec. 17, 2001


Comments

 
 
 
  • checking on myself
    Anonymous