For digital banking to be successful, a core tenet must be that people come before products. Products, by definition, are simply the result of an action or process. To truly deliver value, products must be focused squarely on the people that will use them, guided by the outcomes they wish to achieve, and infused with humanizing elements at every point possible. The best digital experiences are consistent and seamless across all platforms and leave consumers feeling genuinely considered and cared for.
Challenges to Change
As obvious as the points above may be, many financial institutions continue to struggle with delivering digital experiences that are truly valued by those they serve. Three common challenges are voiced by leaders when it comes to bringing about changes to make this possible in their organizations:
- We don’t have the right solutions in place. Leaders frequently feel they lack the control or agility needed to make required changes. This could also stem from cultural perspectives or concerns that technology could replace people in some instances.
- We don’t know where to start. Many leaders feel overwhelmed when it comes to digital transformation but can find comfort in realizing that everything cannot be accomplished at once. Digital transformation is a journey.
- We have concerns about translating what makes us special in a digital environment. This can be viewed as a positive challenge as it demonstrates caring that individuals will continue to find value in an institution’s offerings and interactions.
To serve their customers’ needs and compete in the market moving forward, institutions must overcome these challenges. Fortunately, many progressive organizations are providing paths that others can follow and tailor for themselves.
People are Paramount
Joseph Pellissery is the CIO of Wescom Credit Union and a great example of embracing change to put people first. Based in Southern California and founded in 1934, Wescom now serves more than 200,000 members. Pellissery and other Wescom leaders recognized that long-standing technology ecosystems can tend to become product focused. That’s why he and Wescom embarked on a digital transformation that solidified a move from product-centric approaches to a member-centric mentality.
In a recent Financial Brand webinar, Pellissery noted that Wescom has delivered exceptional member experiences through physical branches, contact centers, and back-office departments for decades. He added, “For us, the success factor for delivering that experience digitally is to make it personable every time, just as it is when someone walks into a branch.” Achieving this level of personalization requires several things, including:
- Leadership and organizational support. Pellissery evangelized Wescom’s digital transformation vision across multiple departments and with senior leaders to build a unified consensus for moving forward.
- Bringing multiple product systems together (credit cards, consumer loans, mortgages, and more). A robust data strategy and a strong foundational API strategy provided Wescom the control and connection that delivers synergy from previously siloed systems.
- Bringing on the right partners. Pellissery and his team recognize that it’s neither practical nor prudent to do everything themselves. They rely on partners like Temenos, Informatica, and Snowflake to pull together capabilities and expertise that accelerated and strengthened their digital transformation.
Inherent in each of these points is Wescom’s focus on its members and the employees who help them each day. As Pellissery notes, “We can bring in all the latest innovations there are, but if that technology does not deliver value and solve problems, we have not hit the mark.”
Micro Steps Drive Progress
As noted earlier, digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It does, however, need to start somewhere. To identify projects and initiatives that would move them closer to their goal, Pellissery and his team reviewed Wescom’s member personas and analyzed experience points to find points of friction and frustration that they could address.
One epiphany came in recognizing that non-member credit card applicants from a university partner were first being redirected to a membership process before they could complete the credit card application that spurred their visit. This resulted in abandonment and irritation from the applicants. Wescom solved this challenge by integrating the credit card and membership applications into a single process that required only 3-5 minutes.
Micro steps matter because every organization is different. One-size-fits-all approaches do not work given the diverse array of organizational cultures, processes, and existing systems. Pellissery encourages organizations to set SMART goals that will individually and collectively build momentum. Leaders should also continually put themselves in the shoes of their consumers by asking, “Would I want to go through what we’re asking of people? What would compel me to bail out at certain interaction points? ” Answers to questions like these provide fuel for further improvement opportunities.
Empowering Partners. Empowering People.
API approaches and the open banking concept are empowering institutions to advance their digital transformations on their terms. Some may need API-driven integration for decisioning documentation or greater access to third-party data sources while others may look to apply artificial intelligence or machine learning capabilities across processes. Still, others may seek a complete end-to-end experience from a partner like Temenos. Financial institutions are leveraging this increasing flexibility to deliver the right solutions to their customers in a way that aligns with their go-to-market strategies. They’re also using the solutions to make data points actionable and available in real-time to front-end staff for higher-value interactions.
Institutions and the leaders that guide them must embrace change and act now to make banking better for their customers. As Joseph Pellissery shared, “Digital transformation starts with exploring the art of the possible.”