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
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
(800) 327-3478 ext 101