Driving innovative thinking

Steve Pierce aligns business strategy and innovation to improve the member journey.

September 22, 2023

Steve Pierce joined Black Hills Federal Credit Union (BHFCU) in 2007 to lead digital services as a programmer analyst in his “new team of one.”

After 15 years and numerous successful initiatives, he now serves as vice president of innovation at the $2.1 billion asset credit union in Rapid City, S.D.

“I drive transformation initiatives, and I champion the role of innovation by aligning our overall business strategy with innovative thinking,” Pierce says.

His accomplishments are noteworthy:

  • Digital banking. Pierce led the credit union to a superior digital position to compete with local, regional, and national brands. The digital banking platform jewel is BHFCU’s top-rated mobile app, which is “loaded with features members love,” Pierce says.
  • Website. Known internally to be obsessed with members’ digital journeys, Pierce championed the design and replacement of the credit union’s website. These efforts nabbed the Web Marketing Association’s Best Credit Union Website award in 2017.
  • Titles. An application standardizing the title perfection process saved hundreds of staff hours annually, “not to mention greater trust and less frustration felt by our members,” Pierce says.
  • Loan Rescue. This micro web application sits on top of a highly sophisticated loan lead data model. Using multiple disparate data sources, including recently parsed credit bureau trade lines, front-line staff can confidently share opportunities members can take to save thousands of dollars on BHFCU loans with better rates. Although it was discontinued with a core conversion, its design of relevant and timely offers provided a roughly 45% conversion rate.

One particularly notable product promoted real-time, next-best product or service, personalized to every member. This achievement was made through Pierce’s early artificial intelligence cross-sell propensity data model, which uses streamed resources including a probable next life event model, credit bureau trade lines, and other transactional and behavioral information.

“Today, this discipline is more commonly known as ‘data science,’ and is at the core for many fintech businesses,” he says.

Pierce’s best day at work often occurs when he’s not on the clock, and instead is out in the community.

“I enjoy meeting a member who learns how I serve the cooperative and is quick to share how we make their life easy though convenient, do-it-yourself banking services,” he says. “I use the opportunity to remind them that they’re the owner, and inquire how we can make our services even better. Some of our best ideas come from members.”

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