This month, CUNA releases its 2017-2018 Environmental Scan (E-Scan), which explores financial services and consumer trends identified by industry experts.
Credit unions have looked to the E-Scan for decades for strategic planning guidance. Mobile services and a mobile ecosystem have been frequent topics in past reports.
They remain important considerations, especially as you work to attract and serve certain member demographics.
Our authors this year took a broader view, identifying digital transformation as a top trend. They describe this as moving from a transaction-centric culture to an experience-centric culture using data analytics, employing real-time response to member events, and mapping the member journey.
Organizations regard the customer experience as the primary way to differentiate themselves from competitors, according to the Digital Trends Report, produced by Econsultancy and Adobe.
But they admit they aren’t developing their data capabilities fast enough. Most survey respondents (97%) are planning to increase or maintain the level of their investment in marketing analytics.
Without prioritizing data, organizations will fail to bolster their understanding of customers and, therefore, fail to optimize the customer experience.
The E-Scan also examines the proliferation of financial technology (fintech) companies. While this isn’t new, experts urge credit unions to keep fintech firms on their radar and study the impact of their innovations—and even to explore ways to collaborate.
Thinking like a fintech startup is one way to reimagine your operations. This was the approach taken by QCash Financial, a credit union service organization operated by WSECU in Olympia, Wash., that offers a payday loan alternative.
QCash Financial CEO Ben Morales says the organization adopted the mindset of a fintech firm as it worked to develop efficiencies to remain sustainable.
“We observed mobile. We observed fintech. We saw what was happening with the cloud and how companies were using data to create the right consumer experience,” Morales explains. “You take all those things, and why would we reinvent the wheel?”
Read more about QCash Financial and other small-dollar loan providers in our June issue (“Small loans, big effect,” p. 24). And visit cuna.org/escan to learn about the 2017-2018 E-Scan.
ANN PETERSON is editor in chief of Credit Union Magazine.