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Do Credit Unions Really Want an All-Digital Future?
he demand for remoteand digital technologies is huge – and stillgrowing – nearly oneyear into the pandemic. Fromtelehealth to school by Zoom, thepush for digital is nearly ubiquitous across industries. Is this whatwe want – is this what consumerswant? In this piece, we’ll discussthe need to examine where andwhen digital and remote servicesdemand a human element tomatch consumer expectations.
The Great COVID Tech Boom
The coronavirus has accelerat-
ed digital uptake like never be-
fore across a wide variety of in-
dustries. For almost a year now,
consumers have consistently
preferred the safety of online or
over-the-phone purchasing and
services over the risk of in-per-
But along the way, they dis-
covered that digital isn’t just
safer – it’s also more convenient.
This has long been a truism for
younger generations, or in areas
where digital’s success is long
proven, such as eCommerce.
So, millennials turning to one-
click shopping on Amazon? Old
news. But senior citizens enroll-
ing in Medicare wholly online?
Students receiving schooling on
Zoom? Patients turning to tele-
health before going to a doctor?
These are all trends that were ac-
celerated by the virus. Consum-
ers from all demographic groups
are now going online to access
services that are not tradition-
ally associated with digital.
This expansion of digital de-
mand is no stop-gap, either.
Even if the entire country were
to be vaccinated tomorrow, it’s
unlikely we would see a return
CU Members Say
‘No’ to Mandatory
Now let’s take alook at our industry, banking. The researchers at my company were interestedin seeing whethercredit union members would continueto opt out of branchvisits in the future when the coronavirus is presumably over. Thesurvey found that 76% of creditunion members plan to avoid orreduce branch visits going forward, with 25% of that group saying they don’t see any circumstance that would bring them tothe branch.
It’s not only that members now
prefer to bypass the branch visit.
Many now view mandatory bank
visits as a business-blocker. The
survey found that 47% of credit
union members would be less
likely to attend to a financial task if
it required them to visit a branch.
Another 33% would avoid taking
out a loan if it forced them to go
to a branch.
Coronavirus risks aside, to-
day’s consumers expect to have a
choice about where and how they
conduct business and get things
done. And when given a choice,
they hands-down choose digital.
So Where Does That Leave
the Human Touch?
Don’t jump to trade in associates
for bots, and call center agents for a
pure-play IVR system just yet. De-
spite changing consumer attitudes
toward in-person business, human
beings aren’t obsolete yet (phew!).
From what I’ve
seen with companies
For example, let’s take the
credit union onboarding process.
Here are a few technologies that
enhance the member experience:
• Specially designated onboard-
• Smart forms based on pre-set
business rules that automati-
cally determine membership
• Digital workflows that expedite
the collection of supporting
• Instant ID verification based on
• Digital payment systems.
All of these technologies makemember onboarding more efficient, pleasant and frictionless.Anything credit union associatescan do, technology can do better.At least in these areas.
But where are agents needed?
I’ve noticed that credit union
members still get tremendous
value from speaking to a human
agent when it comes to:
• Answering questions: Even
as members fill out forms, up-
load documents and get their
ID verified 100% digitally, they
usually appreciate having ac-
cess to an agent who can an-
swer questions or guide them
through steps via phone.
• Cross-selling: Once members have been onboarded,credit union associates arebest equipped to lead a discussion about additional productsbased on members’ life circumstances or financial situation.
•White glove treatment:Throughout members’ lifecycle,they count on their credit unionto be there for them. Whetherit’s offering extraordinary ratesto make a home purchase possible, access to special discounts at stores, advisory services or simply a phone call ontheir birthday, members appreciate a personal, warm humantouch.
Digital and Human: A
For routine tasks, credit unions
should feel very comfortable
going fully digital. It will allow
them to meet growing consum-
er expectations for efficient and
speedy interactions. But when
it comes to higher-order activi-
ties, such as guiding members
through those digital tasks, han-
dling delicate or extenuating cir-
cumstances or offering special
services, members still treasure
having a human being on the
The two sides of the coin – tech-
nology on one side, human inter-
action on the other – are mutu-
ally supportive. When associates
aren’t bogged down with paper-
work, faxing, scanning and other
manual grunt work, they have
more time to spend on what really
matters: The members they are
Zviki Ben IshayCEOLighticoNew York, N. Y.
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Scott Butterfield of YourCredit Union Partner looksbeyond opening creditunion lobbies.
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