The Perfect Cup of Joe

Leadership lessons from Starbucks provide grounds for member engagement.

November 12, 2013

I came to enjoy coffee later in life, and my exploration of the energizing beverage reveals I have been missing out. Now, a day without coffee is lacking.

Not merely a wake-up drink, coffee invites social gatherings, enhances the already compelling chocolate experience during dessert, and is a great discussion topic as friends and I compare and contrast brands, beans, and other interesting java jive.

It’s a whole new world!

Leading the Starbucks Way”  by Joseph A. Michelli was a great read during a recent coffee break. Michelli explores the brand’s success, provides practical ideas for creating brand loyalty, and discusses innovative strategies for business growth and sustained customer engagement.

Michelli suggests five leadership principles: “savor and elevate, love to be loved, reach for common ground, mobilize the connection, and cherish and challenge your legacy.” Adherence to these philosophies “produces powerful bonds with employees, customers, suppliers, and even noncustomers.”

How does your credit union differentiate? Are you merely a financial mechanism for consumers, or do you make yourself important, inviting, and interactive such that, as in my latent interest in coffee, you become an integral and connected part of daily life? Do your members find a day without your influence lacking? Do they talk about you enthusiastically?

Sip on research findings and consider how you can best wake up your members.

Regular or decaf?

Technology is impactful in consumer decision making. Are you properly caffeinated?

Can an App Motivate Consumers to Change Their Financial Habits?” asks American Banker. “These days, incentives offered to encourage execution of tedious tasks are being updated to suit our digital age. A case in point: savings accounts.”

SaveUp, a savings-encouraging concept fostered by the Filene Research Institute, the Michigan Credit Union League, and the Doorway to Dreams Fund is profiled as a motivational savings tool. Other “digital developments” to entice savings habits include uploading photos to serve as goal reminders—for instance, pictures of a vacation destination, a la Pinterest.

“It’s important for banks to track digital-inspired transformation… Innovations of the savings account could affect banks’ development plans.”

Indeed, mobile outreach is effective for providers, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.  “Ninety-four percent of financial institutions say mobile solutions are ‘very important’ or ‘important’… 88% percent are using mobile apps to reach their customers, 85% are implementing a texting/messaging strategy, and 74% are implementing a website for mobile devices.”

Survey results herald from a Syniverse study, and are corroborated by another survey conducted by the American Bankers Association which indicates “mobile banking is preferred by 8% of customers, a 30% increase from 2012, and that mobile banking now is more popular than U.S. mail and the telephone.”

“Perhaps the most popular mobile service being offered, or at least on the drawing board for many financial institutions, is mobile remote deposit capture,” reports the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  It is projected that mobile users of remote deposit capture “will grow from 10.9 million in 2012 to a projected 40 million in 2015.”

Watch for future innovations in mobile to include credit card balance transfers from one institution to another and ability to request replacement cards.

Mobile challenges for providers include the need for technology upgrades, risk management, consumer engagement with fewer branch visits, and security impediments.

One lump or two?

Financial advisors: take note of “10 Tech Trends that’ll Rattle the Advisory Industry.” Here, “Attracting Gen X and Gen Y clients will be vital as boomers retire, but these changes will make it a lot more challenging.”

Among the technological innovations discussed in a recent report:

Meanwhile, “Banks Can Thrive in the New Payments World,” says Bank Systems & Technology. “Banks must forge relationships with younger generations and the unbanked populations or risk losing these potential account holders to nontraditional payments providers like PayPal or telecom companies that provide mobile money service… Developing mobile payments services… is the key to accomplishing this.”

ATMs are prompting big banks to upgrade as new features “enable 24/7 banking,” according to The enhanced ATMs allow funds transfers between accounts, receipts with check images, faster transactions, acceptance of “up to 50 checks at once,” and cash dispensing options to include $1 and $5 bills.

Some even allow video capability for users to work with a teller at another location. Such advancements are not only convenient, they allow cost savings for providers. This interesting article will prompt you to consider potential merits of upgrades to your ATM fleet.

For one last warm-up, see how “U.S. Bank Ramps up Photo Banking to Enable Credit Card Balance Transfers.”  This is an effort to connect with the younger set.

“Photo banking… has become an overall imaging strategy” for banks as they “continue to use imaging capabilities to make some of these banking transactions a little bit more engaging and fun for customers by trying to take things away from data entry and replace the keyboard with the camera.”

Another opportunity for consumer interaction presents itself when users of the service evaluate various opportunities in transfer offers and other considerations like fees, terms, and conditions. “At this point, users can take an image of the payment coupon for a credit card from a different financial institution using the camera on their phone.”

For me, a discovery of coffee led to discovery of more than a beverage. It provides personal taste experiences, opportunities for new social engagements, and appreciation of the many ways coffee can be prepared and consumed. I spend time and money on my newfound interest.

Coffee is not just a part of my breakfast, it has become a part of my lifestyle.

Your credit union is not just a part of members’ wallets. Make yourself a part of their lifestyle.

It’s a whole new world!






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.