Slithering Toward a Solution

Organizations, like people, can only allow temporary solutions for so long.

February 4, 2013

The old farmhouse my parents live in has a stone foundation. It is cold and riddled with cracks, creating an overall “scary basement” atmosphere. I have never enjoyed the fright factor of subterranean forays and now have even greater reason to avoid these nether regions.

Mom and Dear Old Dad discovered a resident reptile down below: a rather large pine snake.

Certainly, the slithery squatter surreptitiously slid through a fissure. Mom is not inclined to evict the usurping serpent.

“Why would we do that? He isn’t hurting anything—and now we don’t have a mouse problem.”

My brother and I suspect Mom may not be as enamored as she proclaims. We detect a certain reluctance to confront this unseemly situation. The problem solved by reptilian residency—rodent eradication—is a convenient avoidance tactic.

The snake seems a silly solution. Although I am sure he is a quiet tenant, he will not entrance visitors. He will get bigger. He might slip silently upstairs. He could invite friends. I may never visit again.

Does your credit union have any “snakes in the basement?” Have you anything in place that technically solves a problem or meets a need but not in an ideal way?

What, for instance, is the state of your core processing equipment? Are member service technologies outdated? Have you recently considered facets of required contingency plans?  What might confronting “Band-Aid” solutions do to improve your operations?

Sensible social strategies

Social media and marketing findings this week reveal interesting strategic considerations for reaching consumers. Can you freshen up some old marketing methods?

Consider “Exploring the Consumer Media Universe,” which tells us consumers access all kinds of media for information.

Take advantage of every opportunity you can in your communication tactics. “Smartphone owners officially make up the majority of mobile subscribers, as 56% owned a smartphone as of Q3 2012.  Additionally, the number of social media users continues to increase across all platforms as consumers use social networking as a vehicle to navigate the ever-expanding media universe.”

A compelling infographic provides media use data. Some devices are losing ground, however. Consider that:

Examine “The Path to Social Media Success in 2013: A 12-Month Plan.” Intuit shares a specific plan that “divides the goal of achieving social success into quarters, each focusing on a specific goal.” They include:

This succinct game plan for development of a social media presence will help you define your strategies.

Those working in social media will need “New Leadership Skills for a Social Media Age.” Findings of a social leadership survey identify a key trend: “Traditional leadership practices fall short in the new digital world.”

In order to accommodate the shift in which people have the power to create and share, managers will need to adopt “more humanistic principles to be successful.” Some of these desirable traits are: “embracing change, being transparent, valuing experimentation, being open to diverse perspectives, being comfortable with conflict, and using social media authentically.”

Think about “Key Email Engagement Tactics: Benchmarks and Trends.” 

A report by Experian Marketing Services indicates strategies for reaching mobile viewers are vital in optimizing email campaigns. One example cited is the use of symbols: 21% of email marketers use symbols in the subject line for distinction, while 28% have not yet done this but hope to do so. “Emails that contain symbols in subject lines can generate open rates up to 15% higher than open rates for regular promotional emails.”

Savvy smartphone sends

Know about “The Latest Feature in Mobile Banking: Smartphone Cameras.” 

“Banking is top of mind for smart device owners who are increasingly using mobile to accomplish the daily-to-do list,” says eMarketer. Banks are accommodating with advancement of mobile features offered.

Cameras are important in mobile remote check deposit, although some consumers hesitate due to security concerns. “This is a perception banks must work to combat.”

Mobile payments are expected to leap, according to new Forrester Research in “U.S. Mobile Payments Market Predicted to Reach $90B By 2017, Up From $12.8B in 2012.”  One challenge is mobile remittances.

“The key to future growth for mobile payments will be convincing consumers that it is a much better alternative… Highlighting convenience, security, and improved user experience are what will convince users to come on board, but it’ll require that there are clear and present advantages in each area.”

But mobile money has benefits in developing countries, according to the World Bank in “IC4D 2012: Maximizing Mobile.”

“Mobile money is often successful because it is considerably cheaper than other alternatives to cash.” In fact, a comparison of 26 banks revealed branchless banking, which includes mobile money, “was 19% cheaper on average than alternative services. At low transaction amounts or for informal money transfer options, this difference more than doubled.”

Other advantages of mobile money include safety, the ability for women to maintain personal savings without spousal permission, speed, and liquidity. “Mobile money can be an accessible and convenient medium for the delivery of financial services and more reliable than traditional, informal methods.”

New communication technologies in reaching consumers and innovations such as mobile banking are only a few of the examples of current solutions to replace outdated methodologies and practices that may remain in force to help you “get by.”

At times, confrontation, examination, and implementation of modern conveniences might be initially unappealing when the project seems daunting, costly, frightening, or overwhelming. But we can only allow Band-Aid approaches or temporary solutions for so long. Eventually these fixes may create more problems than they solve.

My brother recalled that Mom and Dear Old Dad had a mouse problem once in their auto as the car became a warm rodent refuge. He suggested putting snakes in the glove compartment.

Mouse problem solved!






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.