Tech Time: Crafting a Technology Infrastructure

smiling young Asian woman uses app on smartphone while holographic images of technology infrastructure glow around her
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

3 minutes

Credit union tech should improve, not complicate, the member experience by streamlining processes while still being flexible for end users.

Todd Robertson, SVP/business development for ARGO, Richardson, Texas, says that today’s digital, pandemic world has forever changed how consumers interact with their financial institutions. And it’s forced the financial services industry to shift their processes and how they relate to consumers through each stage of the customer journey.

“Credit unions have historically had a custodial, member-care business model where they ‘do the work’ for the member. While this approach worked well in a branch environment, it is not as successful in today’s self-service digital economy,” Robertson observes.

“Unfortunately, for some credit unions, we’ve seen their (digital) models capture less than half of the positive opportunities with a member and actually generate consumer dissatisfaction. This is evident by large abandonment rates, nearly 80% for fulfillment functions.” In an era of digital consumer empowerment and self-service, Robertson says that credit unions have to relinquish some of that work to the member, which requires processes to be simplified.

“First, make the digital process time-sensitive, preferably in the five-to-eight minute range from start to completion,” he explains. “Second, select a user interface that’s designed for self-service use. And third, instead of expecting data entry perfection, partially completed applications must be routed to an appropriate work queue for employees to assist in completion. These methods all help reduce the probability of abandonment.”

Robertson adds credit unions can benefit from customer-centric engagement technology (for example, ARGO Connects, an analytics-based omnichannel delivery platform) that provide solutions for acquiring, nurturing and converting leads as well as ongoing customer engagement and account fulfillment. The service delivery system should assure an omnichannel experience consisting of numerous interactions across multiple touchpoints between a member and financial institution.

“Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect seamless interactions, regardless of the channels or devices they choose, which is why the technology infrastructure is so important for credit unions,” Robertson notes. “For a system to be truly comprehensive, it must offer technology support for transactional elements, data management, multiple channels and devices, omnichannel workflow, analytics and full digital capability.

“From an operational perspective, technology must scale, … offer longer-term maintainability and support mission-critical operational reliability,” he adds. “Along with electronic workflows, a strong technology infrastructure is necessary, one driven by customer-defined engagement patterns that supports interactions at every stage of the journey.”

Consider loan application and fulfillment in an omnichannel environment:

“The channel is comprised of an electronic workflow, including paperless transactions and mandatory e-signatures for appropriate document management,” observes Robertson. “It also requires compliance checklists to be executed and evidentiary proof appropriately recorded. Because loan origination depends on quick decisions while mitigating risk, detailed decisioning frameworks for underwriting and fraud work tasks are essential. And with the ability for automated routing, the omnichannel world requires a great degree of flexibility and capability.”

A credit union’s technology infrastructure should also support timely delivery of education, offers, referrals, branch and contact center appointments, follow-ups, influence notices and alert notifications to the end customer.

Robertson acknowledges that with financial services essentially commoditized, it’s difficult to achieve sustained competitiveness solely by product. “Having the best customer experience is now the primary way to sustain competitiveness, especially in a digital world,” he concludes. “And from an IT and capital investment perspective, a solid infrastructure will offer greater longevity of capital utilization and lower the cost of maintainability over time.”

Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists credit unions, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.

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