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Avoiding Friction in Your Credit Union's Operations

businessmen pushing shapes with varying friction
By Trace Ledbetter

2 minutes

Consider the complexity of the technology platform required when making operational decisions.

In June 2020, Filene Research Institute hosted a virtual discussion focused on “The Art & Science of Organization.” This two-day discussion with 150-plus senior credit union leaders focused on new sources of friction resulting from COVID-19.

During the event, Brent Dixon, senior director of innovation for Filene, hosted a workshop titled, “Introducing the Friction Manifesto,” and participants were surveyed about sources of friction in their credit unions. (Get the results overview here.)

It was interesting to me that what these leaders found of most value are the benefits a provider specializing in portfolio protection can offer—ease of use, reduced friction, greater transparency, and more attentive, customized service. 

What other areas of your credit union are better served by a business partner or vendor that is a specialist versus a multiple solutions provider? And, which areas might gain an advantage going in the opposite direction? 

After seeing these survey results, I spent some time thinking about the factors that could be the difference between the odds of success of the two approaches. What seemed most evident to me was that the advantage of choosing one or the other came largely down to the technology needs for the specific function being considered. 

Adding COVID-19 (or whatever future crises may befall us) to the mix adds another consideration. When a large disruptive event or circumstance occurs, a supplier or service provider that has multiple irons in the fire has to scatter attention and resources trying to shore up and solve the issues that crop up in each one of those areas. A more focused provider, on the other hand, has the opportunity to devote all its efforts toward mitigating any disruptions that occur in one particular arena.

As credit union leaders, you make these kinds of calculations not only on a large-scale basis—such as when you’re choosing a core processor or mobile banking platform—but also as a matter of course every day. Faced with choices about which actions to take to reduce friction and noise in every area of your credit union, it makes sense to keep “the complexity of the technology platform required” as one of the criteria in your decision-making matrix. As these Filene survey results show, the choice you make in any one area has the potential to either exacerbate friction and weaken member relationships—or to help eliminate it and strengthen those relationships instead.

Trace Ledbetter is EVP at CUESolutions Bronze provider State National Companies, Bedford, Texas, where he directs and oversees delivery of all services and products for lender services, including customer relationship management, underwriting and claims.

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