A Path to Digital – A Lesson in Leadership

Dawn Brummett, EVP and Chief Operating Officer at ORNL Federal Credit Union speaks on growth.

Allison Netzer – Senior Vice President, North America Strategy & Marketing at Temenos

In a fast-changing world, each CU must discover its unique path forward. Temenos spoke with Dawn Brummett, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at ORNL Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to get her perspective on how her organization is managing growth in a scalable, sustainable, and member-focused way.

The company’s digital journey began with an insight. “There was a turning point in our organization about eight years ago,” says Brummett. “We realized we were doing a good job of serving members face-to-face, but we were not delivering the same service level through our digital experiences. We wanted to be easy to do business with, regardless of the channel.”

ORNL FCU’s approach is rooted in deep knowledge of the member experience. “We’re not sitting in the board room high-fiving every day saying we’re the best, we’re looking at how we can serve our members better,” she says. “It’s about always remembering that members have a choice.” Brummett also emphasizes looking beyond the CU industry itself. “Retail is driving how members use applications,” she observes. “It’s what you can do on your mobile device that matters.”

When organizations start from technology, their vision can be limited by preconceptions. ORNL FCU begins by understanding what members—and employees—need and want, and then making choices that drive those outcomes. They prioritize investments based on two simple questions: ‘Where are we in the market now – leading or lagging?’ and ‘What impact do each of these have on the member experience – high or low?’. “We focus on the areas where we are behind and where we could have the greatest member impact,” says Brummett. Choosing a small number of digital enhancements to focus on and measure ensures you can demonstrate results—and keep improving them over time.

When it comes to selecting a solution, Brummett brings employees into the process to drive value—and buy-in. “When we started focusing heavily on digital, I told the team, ‘You’re going to be part of this decision. You’re going to help us identify the gaps we have and the elements we need to bring in.’ We gained a lot of buy in from an exercise of locking arms.” Starting with a small process and demonstrating success internally can help get employees on board. Engagement helps accelerate the pace of innovation.

Brummett highlights how relentless focus on members has shaped every aspect of experience, including driving growth through marketing and social media. “It resonates with members that we don’t market products on social media. We focus on connecting with them instead.”

A member-centered path forward combines an appetite for change with clear understanding of what truly matters to those you serve. “Credit unions have been around for a long time,” concludes Brummett. “We want to be around for a much longer time in the future. In order to do that, you have to be willing to adopt new practices and strategies. It’s hard work, it takes time, but we haven’t looked back.”

Read more about ORNL’s member-centered approach to digital in A New Path Forward: A Growth Benchmark Report in collaboration with the Financial Brand.

Note: This content was originally published on the CUNA News website on April 13, 2020. You can access it here.

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Allison Netzer – Senior Vice President, North America Strategy & Marketing at Temenos