BY ROB VANASCO
Every credit union knows it needs to innovate. It is no secret that more and more members are demanding a digital experience in order to accomplish tasks faster and easier, or that self-service is the future and a digital marketing strategy needs to include mobile and voice. But figuring out exactly what a digital marketing strategy should look like is easier said than done. There is a broad landscape out there, and it can be overwhelming, not to mention there is the price tag to consider. Credit unions have to balance what is best for the member with the technical capabilities of their IT teams and cost to the bottom line.
All these considerations can bring progress to a standstill. Instead of acting, waiting for a cheaper, more obvious solution to come along may seem like the easier path forward. Meanwhile, opportunities to gain new members and improve the experience of existing members are missed, one after another.
What, then, is the biggest obstacle blocking the path to digital transformation? While a variety of factors – including time, money and resources – are partially responsible, the biggest culprit is “the why.” Defining the reason behind change creates a sense of urgency that is not present without it.
So how do we find the why?
It starts with the member.
Defining the Why
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a credit union and discuss how it was planning to improve its alerts and controls offerings. Instead of talking about a long list of alerts and how controls might help save money, and what it all might look like on web and mobile, we spent a good portion of our time talking about its members.
Walking into the meeting, I thought I had a basic understanding of the credit union’s members. I figured they looked a lot like members from other credit unions I have visited, made up of a mix of age ranges and job titles, maybe leaning more toward mid-level financial institution and tech employees or healthcare professionals.
I could not have been more wrong.
It turns out this credit union serves lower-income residents of its community. Most members are in their 40s or older. They primarily work in jobs that keep them on their feet or using their hands. They work a wide range of shifts and many times are unable to get into a branch during business hours. Many of them have very little knowledge regarding finances and take their financial advice from people in the same income bracket. They live paycheck to paycheck, have high utilization rates on their credit cards, and struggle just to make the minimum payment each month. These members do not have the latest iPhone, or an Alexa or Google Home device. They work as much as they can just to keep their heads above water and do not have time to learn new things.
Why do these members care about alerts and controls on their plastics?
In short, the credit union members being discussed were vastly different from everyone sitting in the meeting discussing their future experience. We had to get out of our own heads and step into that of the member.
Creating a Persona
To step into the life of a member, we took what we knew and distilled it down to a single person. We gave her a name (Genie), a job and a backstory. We defined what motivates her, what challenges she faces on a daily basis, and what her goals are.
This persona gave us a clear view of who we were designing a solution for and helped facilitate the conversation around her journey. And by creating something Genie could actually use – something user-friendly that took little time to access, learn and update – we were accommodating the needs of the target member base on which the credit union is focusing its future efforts.
The Current Journey
The next step was to walk through the credit union’s current alerts offerings from the perspective of our persona.Once we had the process mapped out, we talked about the journey, specifically what our fictional member might be thinking and feeling along the way.
The group decided Genie might be overwhelmed, confused and excited about first learning of the product. We talked about some frustration with the enrollment process as she might start to feel stupid or annoyed with her ability, or inability, to figure out how to get started. When it came time to actually set alerts, we felt Genie might have some anxiety or concern about whether or not she did it right – there was currently nothing to tell her that she successfully set an alert and no assurance it would work as advertised. When receiving alerts, we thought Genie would feel a mixture of relief, panic, confusion and stress.
The Future Journey
After mapping the current state, we wiped the board clean and started over with the same high-level steps: learn, enroll, set, manage and receive.
We imagined a world where resources, money and time were no object, and we walked Genie through the steps again, taking every measure to meet her needs and do what was best for her, without worrying about anyone or anything else.
What we came up with was a set of ideas and steps that take Genie’s financial knowledge, her need for assistance, her time,and her challenges into consideration.
Our focus became, “How do we help Genie help herself?”
We discussed that while Genie may want someone to set controls and alerts for her, what she really needs is a basic understanding of the importance of alerts and controls and the ability to set and manage them on her own time. So, while Genie’s credit union will make every effort to provide the information she needs in the branch, over the phone, on the web or through social media, its ultimate goal is to guide Genie toward self-service.
The Journey Leads to the Why
Going into this exercise, the credit union knew it wanted to move toward self-service and offer controls and alerts via web and mobile channels. While the findings did not reveal any insight that ran contrary to that initial goal, what it did uncover was why it was so important. Beyond dollars and cents, beyond trends and competitive analysis, the exercise gave purpose to improving a product. The principles identified will carry the credit union through the challenging days of product development and be a guiding light when making decisions about the details of product enhancement. No matter what, the credit union can always look back and ask, “What’s best for Genie?”
What’s best for your members? Why?
As a UX Product Designer, Rob Vanasco is passionate about creating experiences that help people accomplish financial tasks faster and with less stress.