Recently WESCO announced it was changing its name to CU*Answers. The firm choose CU*Answers to emphasize its dedication to working towards finding and developing credit union solutions. The new name also introduced a new direction for its development teams to include networked knowledge delivery systems and content with its core processing tools.
In today's diverse financial service world, both credit unions and their vendors must work very hard to answer all the questions being thrown at us. When credit union employees pick up a ringing telephone, they haven't any idea what to anticipate from the caller. It could be a question about a balance or new IRA regulations, an inquiry about how the credit union's mortgage rates compete with others or how trust services work best for a retiring couple, or even what insurance products the credit union offers that are better than what the member's current agent provides. Being an expert in front of a member today is not an easy task.
Fortunately, today's organizations are positioned to provide answers to their customers more consistently and more quickly than ever before. Our networked world allows organizations to digitally respond and record answers to marketplace challenges. Unlike solutions of the past such as brochures or printed manuals, today's networked knowledge systems can be quickly updated and distributed, easily accessed, and thoroughly embedded in member solutions. We can now teach while we do. We can reinforce our value at the time that we deliver service. And we can do it with a single voice.
The challenge is to make sure that our networked knowledge systems are active and that both our employees and our members are using them. They need to do real work. It's not enough to have policy manuals and procedures on an Intranet if you are not going to have the Intranet be the center of an examination or operational review. It is not enough to have a web site that caters to a small demographic of your membership providing the most up to date information, products and services, and then not interface that with your employee desktop solution and test your employees on whether they are up to speed.
Once you are committed to network knowledge systems doing real work, the next step is prioritizing how that work is done and how you will develop the content. Today's organizations cannot write an encyclopedia about everything they do and trust that their customers will take the time to read it. The resources and costs required to write everything down is simply too expensive. There is also the risk that you might not write down what customers actually need. We need to borrow from the manufacturing concept of ''just in time.'' We need to develop answers so that they are delivered to our members as they need the information to realize our service and our value.
To do so, we need to analyze the types and frequency of questions being asked, so that we can judge what our members need from us today. We must be consistent and diligent in the analysis of our members' voice. It's not enough to survey once a year. It's not enough to do focus groups on a sporadic basis. It's not enough to think we have our thumb on the pulse of the marketplace; we must know. We need to develop systems that constantly engage our customers directly with our knowledge systems (our experts) and track the interaction. We need to respond quickly to direct customer questions and then record and distribute the answers throughout our network as quickly as possible. We need to enforce on our staff that they use our networked knowledge systems as much as they use their own recall. Today's organization must be nimble enough to know that today's answers cannot be just a reiteration of yesterday's.
CU*Answers does not have all the answers to what are the best tools or solutions for what credit unions will need in the future for networked knowledge systems. But we are very confident that if we don't begin to work in this area now, we will never live up to the potential of what today's network technology could deliver to credit unions and their members. Most organizations have found ways to do things faster, to print less paper, to be more efficient at yesterday's credit union core competencies. But the potential of the network structures credit unions are building today is to interact with members to identify tomorrow's core competency needs, by having systems that are constantly searching for the current answer, not yesterday's.
There are many organizations already working in this arena. CU*Answers hopes this article will generate more conversations about how education and knowledge content can be embedded in credit union IT systems. Click to download CUAnswers press release