From products to people

Humanize digital banking by keeping the focus on members.

August 23, 2021



Credit unions finding success with digital banking experiences know 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 on the people who will use them and infused with humanizing elements at every point possible.

A focus on people, not products

Joseph Pellissery, chief information officer (CIO) of $5 billion asset Wescom Credit Union in Pasadena, Calif., and his team exemplify humanizing digital banking for credit union members. He and other Wescom leaders know that long-standing technology ecosystems can become product-focused. That’s why Wescom embarked on a digital transformation effort to move from product-centric to member-centric approaches.

The key success factor for Wescom to match person-to-person experiences digitally is to make them personable every time. Achieving this requires several things:

  • Building leadership and organizational support. Share the digital transformation vision with multiple departments and leaders to build a unified consensus for change.
  • Bringing multiple product systems together. Ensure a robust data approach and strong application programming interface (API) strategy for control and connection that creates synergy from previously siloed systems.
  • Finding the right partners. Institutions can’t accomplish everything alone. Combine collective capabilities and expertise that accelerate accomplishment. 

Guiding each of these requirements is a steadfast focus on members and the employees who help them. As Pellissery notes, “We can bring in all the latest innovations but, if that technology doesn’t deliver value and solve problems, we haven’t hit the mark.”

Microsteps drive progress

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but it must start somewhere. To identify initiatives that would move them closer to their goal, Pellissery and his team reviewed member personas and experience points to find areas of friction and frustration. 

One opportunity came in recognizing that non-member credit card applicants from one of Wescom’s university partners were being redirected to a membership process before they could complete the card application that spurred their visit, elevating abandonment and irritation. Wescom solved this challenge by integrating the credit card and membership applications into a single process that requires only three to five minutes.

Microsteps matter and quickly add up. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that will individually and collectively build momentum. Continually ask questions and solicit member feedback to fuel further improvement opportunities.

Empowering partners, empowering people

New technologies and open banking approaches empower credit unions to advance digital transformations on their terms. This increasing flexibility lets them deliver the right solutions to members in a way that aligns with their go-to-market strategies. 

Credit unions and their leaders must embrace change and act now to make banking better for their members. As Joseph Pellissery shares, “Digital transformation starts with exploring the art of the possible.”

KRIS FRANTZEN is vice president of product at Temenos.