A Human-Centered Approach to Workflow Management


As a result of daily interactions with experience leaders like Amazon, Spotify and Google, today’s credit union members are conditioned to anticipate delightful, technological interactions that often go so far as to predict their next move. Members expect technology to be fast, frictionless and convenient – and when systems are not, they quickly become frustrated. 

When looking at the credit union sector, we often find systems are disconnected, as are the services credit unions, credit union service organizations and other partners provide to members. To understand why this has become so common and what we can do to improve the experience for both credit union members and staff, PSCU recently conducted two case studies.

In each case, PSCU met with back-office staff who take member calls and work in disparate systems to complete a unified task. We observed that task completion required many manual processes: typing in account numbers from digital sticky notes, copying and pasting those numbers into a search bar, transferring information from one system into another and, finally, updating an Excel file. Agents had to determine where they needed to go or what system to use to find the answers to members’ questions, all while delivering high-quality customer service. With so many systems open on his or her computer at once, staff members had to utilize a great deal of mental energy to remember how to use each unique system and how to search, navigate and locate information within each.

Interestingly, the delegation of work and workflow procedures in each study were heavily influenced by the systems being used. The siloed nature of the applications and workflows inflated their toolset with many manual processes, which also trickled down into how support teams were divided and, inevitably, the quality of customer service delivered. As a result, members were transferred between agents after already waiting in the phone queue to get the assistance they needed, translating into frustrated and impatient members.

After analyzing data from both case studies, PSCU determined agents would benefit from a re-envisioned workflow integrating the tasks they needed to complete when assisting members. They needed technology that could move with them and minimize the number of applications required to get the job done.

While it seems logical, implementing this solution is a large undertaking that requires a justified cause. To confirm you have identified the right solution to create a better experience and ensure the ends justify the means, consider the following:

  • Shadow staff working in their system(s), taking calls etc., to get a holistic view of workflow.
  • Discuss wins and pain points when completing tasks, and ask “why?”
  • Examine how many applications are being juggled at one time. Are staff required to log into each one? How much time do these transitions take, and how much of a distraction are they?
  • When they have to access procedural information, are they easily able to find what they need? Do they have to learn what to look for?
  • Do members regularly get re-routed to other teams to get issues resolved?

Once the answers to these questions are understood and technical limitations are reviewed, solutions can be ideated using qualitative information about the people and processes they will directly affect, resulting in better outcomes.

In today’s demanding world, technology must be both flexible and smart so it evolves as needs and expectations change. We can no longer build systems based on what we think will work; instead, systems must be human-centered. Talking to the people using these systems and understanding their needs is critical. It not only creates the opportunity for operational efficiency, but it also enables a better member experience.

Erika Boyd joined PSCU’s Product Design team in 2016. In her role as product designer, she focuses on creating thoughtful experiences for consumers that are grounded with user experience research.

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