Across the credit union industry, many organizations are currently focused on two objectives when it comes to channel management: Getting the right tools in place to build the optimal member experience and utilizing data to make decisions to help grow portfolios and better understand the marketplace.
For the most part, these two areas have run in parallel and rarely in tandem. Evolutions in consumer experience studies and technologies that create unique, fast, and convenient experiences have accelerated innovation in both the digital and data spaces. Focusing on each exclusively has allowed credit unions to establish an omnichannel presence, where business processes are digitally connected across a number of channels and platforms. While these tools enable users to start activities in one channel and complete them in another, today’s members are conditioned to expect more.
Every day, consumers are utilizing digital channels more and more, while simultaneously becoming accustomed to these experiences evolving and getting smarter and more personalized. While these types of experiences are already the expectation in other areas – take Facebook or Netflix, for example – the financial services industry is presented with an opportunity.
Now is the time to shift the narrative and define how credit unions can intelligently leverage the right tools and the data to establish a different kind of engagement model – opti-channel – driven by analytics that will meet, or ideally exceed, members’ digital expectations, on an individual level. The end goal? To reach a point where credit unions are using data to truly create experiences that are specific to each member and his or her individual needs based on the value the member represents to the credit union. The savings and efficiencies in servicing gained will be well worth the shift in focus and allow credit unions to continue investing in value-added services.
Defining An Opti-Channel Approach
Opti-channel success is defined by two factors: Integrating consumer-focused processes across all available channels and optimizing each channel experience. For integration, all business processes need to be digitally connected across all channels, with the ability for processes to easily transfer across channels. Projects started in one channel should have the ability to seamlessly be completed days later in another channel, without restarting from step one.
To effectively optimize each channel experience, start with personalization utilizing data drawn from the member’s personally identifiable information (PII), preferred channel and engagement style – low or high touch – as indicated by past behaviors and feedback. From there, leverage predictive models that learn from millions of consumer behaviors, anticipate the consumer’s immediate pain point or life stage needs, and relevant financial advice. And, when applicable, prescribe the most appropriate next action and present offers that stimulate current product usage, or right sell a new product. Ultimately, optimization will cultivate credit union loyalty and brand advocacy, one member at a time.
While many credit unions already have access to the data needed to optimize the member experience, they might not yet have the ability to integrate and utilize the data to its fullest extent. As a first step, credit unions should determine what technology will be needed for an opti-channel approach. Next, make the necessary investments in time, technology, and people to execute the strategy, taking data collected and using it to understand experiences and define preferences.
An emphasis on an opti-channel approach will eventually create intelligent engagement, where experiences are more proactive than reactive, as well as personalized. Credit unions will succeed not by separating channels, but by bringing them together to fulfill revenue opportunities and meet or exceed member service expectations.
Jeremiah Lotz is Managing Vice President, Digital & Data, at PSCU. He directs PSCU's initiatives to empower the company's Owner credit unions with innovative and engaging payment solutions. With a focus on creating exceptional digital experiences based on data-driven intelligence, Lotz leads an experienced team dedicated to delivering PSCU's data science, analytics and digital experience solutions. He also manages the strategic relationships PSCU forges with leading payments technology providers to ensure Owners have access to world-class platforms and solutions that build profitability and loyalty.