Back in the early 2000s, I was sitting in a strategic planning session with other leaders from our credit union listening to an outside consultant tell us how we needed to decide if we were going go all-in either with “bricks” or “clicks.”
It was presented to us as a binary choice: no credit union could successfully focus on a combination of both in the new millennium.
Our credit union, as we were told, was at a strategic fork in the road and needed to choose one path or the other—to march forward and never look back.
The discussion was an eyebrow-raiser at the time to say the least. And now, looking back 15 years later, we’ve all seen what a false dilemma that question was.
The vast majority of financial institutions have survived with one foot planted in the physical world and the other in the digital realm.
Research conducted by the Filene Research Institute validates this perspective. It found that from 2009 through 2013, credit unions continually added new digital channels for members to conduct transactions. Not surprisingly, average digital transactions per member increased 50%.
During the same period, however, average branch transactions per member—surprisingly—also increased by nearly 12%.
The data indicates that as credit unions increase the variety of delivery and transaction channels, members’ use of each channel has increased—branch and digital alike.
You can equate this phenomenon to the behavior of diners at a buffet: as a server adds a new entrée to the buffet, patrons rarely cut back on other food choices. They simply pile more on their plate.
How can credit unions leverage this trend to enhance service to members who visit branches while attempting to improve operational efficiency? A few institutions are evaluating new innovations to address this issue.
One recent concept that shows significant potential was developed as a part of the Filene i3 collaborative innovation program.
ZeroHour uses a member’s smartphone, along with beacon technology, to identify when a particular member approaches a branch. Then the app can push targeted service or product messaging to the member to enhance his/her branch experience.
Much to the excitement of credit union efficiency experts, the app also presents the ability for members to precomplete certain transaction details on their smartphones to shorten transaction times.
In fact, the beacon technology that ZeroHour leverages can track an individual member within feet inside your branch. While one member might receive a push alert on her phone with today’s mortgage rates because she’s standing near a mortgage poster, another might receive a prompt to enter details about his desired transaction if the app senses he’s sitting in your waiting area.
The ZeroHour concept is one of many i3 ideas that have been developed over the program’s 10-year history to solve the most pressing cooperative finance problems.
Filene is constantly looking for credit unions to help us test these innovations that leverage emerging delivery channels. Visit our website to learn more about ZeroHour and the i3 innovation program.