With nearly 1.3 million members scattered across the country and around the world, a delivery network of 60 branches, and a full lineup of digital delivery options, BECU ($26.8B, Tukwila, WA) is committed to refining its member experience — or, as it says, its user experience (UX). The big cooperative shares its UX principles on the web and has even built a team to focus specifically on UX.
Member experience researchers are an important part of that team. These are the people who assess how products and services work from the perspective of BECU employees and members. Meg Wyble, a 15-year BECU employee, is one of the first to hold the title. Here, she talks about the genesis of her job and what her daily routine looks like.
Is member experience researcher a new role at BECU? What does it involve?
Meg Wyble: BECU created the member experience researcher role about two years ago specifically for the work my team does. Our leaders believe this type of work offers value to the credit union and our members. We conduct user experience (UX) research to better understand the experiences at the credit union both for our membership and our employees.
Our team conducts research on the experience our members have when using our products and services as well as the experiences employees encounter when helping members. We look at products and services BECU is considering offering , too.
We also help internal teams with employee-facing systems. For example, we’re researching employee needs related to how they will use the new customer relationship management technology we’re implementing. This will allow our development teams to make improvements prior to release.
It’s important for us not to guess what our users need and what does or doesn’t work for them. Therefore, we research their experiences with a variety of UX research methods.
Did BECU create this role specifically for you?
MW: No, member and user experience is an area constantly evolving and growing at BECU. The UX Center of Excellence, which supports product and digital design and research, has a team of nine researchers and researcher/designers. My team — which focuses on product, contact center, retail, in addition to employee systems — has three member experience researchers.
Download the job description for BECU’s member experience researcher. This description and others, along with a variety of strategic and tactical documents, are available in the Callahan Policy Exchange.
What challenges does your work as a member experience researcher address?
MW: My team works to uncover challenges members or employees face with existing products and experiences at BECU. For example, I’m partnering with our contact center to conduct member research to gain an understanding of their experience when using our call-back option when there’s a queue. We’ll then make changes to make the service more intuitive, easier to use, and more informative for our members.
How does your role create a positive member impact at BECU?
MW: Our role is to represent the member’s voice and champion member empathy when it comes to improving existing experiences or creating new ones. The research my team and I do allows our members to share exactly what their needs are and what opportunities and strengths exist for a specific experience. The data gathered is specific to the research effort and isn’t generalized like we might see if we were to capture the member’s voice from something like net promoter score survey comments.
What makes you a great fit for this job?
MW: I have received several certifications in UX and experience research, including a UX Nielsen Norman Group certificate.
Who do you report to?
MW: I report to Amber Smalley, BECU’s director of digital strategy.
What are your areas of responsibility?
MW: I’m responsible for partnering with our contact center, retail divisions, and product team to conduct user-centered research that identifies member and employee needs as well as opportunities to better understand experiences that currently exist or new experiences BECU is looking to implement.
What is your daily routine?
MW: My role does not have a daily routine. Where I’m at in the research process for a specific product, service, or experience will determine what I’m working on. No two days are the same, so it keeps things fresh and certainly keeps me on my toes.
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How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed what you’re seeing as a member experience researcher?
MW: My job hasn’t changed during COVID-19, but the way we do our work has changed as my team has been 100% remote since March 2020.
Now, instead of meeting with members at our Neighborhood Financial Centers, we either meet with them digitally over Zoom or use the platform UserTesting to conduct research with users in BECU’s field of membership. In addition, instead of big planning or research synthesis sessions using a conference room, dry-erase boards, and post-its, we accomplish everything digitally using Mural.
How do you track success in your job?
MW: There are many ways we track success, from the business unit’s key performance indicator’s (KPI) for that experience to product or service usage and even employee time spent doing a specific task. The success metrics are unique to each research effort. In the end, it comes down to finding continual ways to benefit our members and employees.
How do you stay current with topics that fall under your role?
MW: To stay current on topics that fall under my role, I attend conferences, read blog articles, and watch YouTube videos from Nielsen Norman Group; attend classes on IDEO or Coursera; attend the UX research conference UXRConf Anywhere, and read highly rated UX books and online articles through various UX websites.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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