Digital Transformation on the Horizon?

digital horizon
By Tim McAdow

3 minutes

Four things to focus on now

Competition in today’s financial services space is like nothing we’ve seen before. 

Consumers have been conditioned to expect Amazon-like functionality in every aspect of their lives. And this means credit unions can’t focus only on their conventional rivals—traditional banks; they’re also up against fintech innovators and deep-pocketed digital companies. For example, in a recent Bain survey, 65% of Amazon Prime customers said they’d be willing to try a free online bank account offered by Amazon and 37% of non-Amazon customers said they would too.

The “what” credit unions need to accomplish—digital transformation—is crystal clear. The “how,” less so. But it’s safe to say one thing will be essential: your leadership. Your staff is counting on you to provide a strong and compelling strategic vision to guide their efforts. 

Ready to drive a culture that embraces digital disruption? Keep these four things in mind.

Disruption doesn’t mean leaving your old culture behind—it means recognizing and leveraging the key, foundational strengths that made your credit union what it is today.

To build your successful digital transformation on this strong foundation, do the following:

1. Live Your Brand Promise

This is critical to your member relationship. Is there a disconnect between your stated core mission and values and the actual member experience? If so, you risk alienating members and losing business. Work hard to understand what members want from you and use this to shape both your digital and in-branch experiences and how you communicate with members. 

An important thing to keep in mind: the role anxiety can play when it comes to the member relationship. Finances are a huge source of member anxiety and it’s not uncommon for credit union mission statements to imply CUs will help members improve their financial lives (e.g., “To be our members’ most trusted financial resource.”). Taking steps to reduce members’ anxiety can help you live your brand promise. 

2. Empower Your Leadership Team 

Micromanagement and forward-thinking leadership never go hand-in-hand. Identify your unique value proposition and articulate a digital-led strategic vision—then trust your leadership team to determine how to execute it. 

Give your leaders the authority and freedom to explore the best options to deliver on your credit union’s promise. Recognize their strengths, expertise and point of view, and check in regularly with your C-suite counterparts and functional leadership to adjust your strategy based on performance metrics.

This is one of the most important aspects of a successful digital transformation. Your entire C-suite needs to fully support this new strategic vision and use it to guide their decision-making. Doing so will ensure all levels of the organization are aligned so you live and breathe your mission. 

3. Reshape Your Strategy 

To deliver the personalized, frictionless experience members are looking for, your credit union will need to step outside its comfort zone, build new capabilities and reach members in new ways. This digital transformation may drive changes to your overall strategy. You’ll need to determine which new competencies are important and how you’ll acquire them. For instance, you could partner with a fintech startup to deliver a digital experience, build your own solution or work through a CUSO.

4. Transform The Way You Do Business

Successful digital disruption isn’t just about adding an app or updating your website. It’s about completely transforming how consumers interact with your brand. Today’s consumers won’t settle for business as usual. Deliver the experience they demand through the channels they prefer. 

Tim McAdow is VP/go-to-customer for CUESolutions platinum provider CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wisconsin.

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