Thursday 9 July, 2020

Credit Unions told to use technology to improve customer experience

Bevil Wooding

Bevil Wooding

Community banks and credit unions that understand how to adapt and evolve to harness technology stands the best chance of success. Those that do not are at risk of irrelevance, or worse, failure.

This was the message delivered in a keynote address by technology strategist Bevil Wooding, to a gathering of chief executive officers and leaders of credit unions from Caribbean, North America and other international markets.

Wooding spoke on the topic “Disruptive Technology” and its impact on the customer service experience, at a special CEO’s Roundtable hosted by the Caribbean Credit Union Managers Association as part of the 2019 World Credit Union Conference taking place in the Bahamas.

“Credit Unions have always prioritised superior customer service, in part to distinguish their experience from traditional banks. However, Credit Union members expectations of what is a superior customer service experience are changing, rapidly. 

Because of the rapid pace of technological innovation, many community banks and credit unions are struggling to keep up with the changing expectation of customers and the realities competition in the digital age," he said.

Wooding, who also serves as a technology advisor to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, acknowledged that digital disruption can be an intimidating prospect for Credit Unions in the Caribbean and around the world.

“It is a topic CEO and senior leaders know they should be thinking about but aren’t always sure where to start. In fact, some Credit Union executive teams and boards are content with the status quo. Meanwhile, for others, the sheer pace of technology-driven change can induce paralysis or even panic,”

Wooding believes that, because of the vital role community banks and credit unions play, particularly in small and emerging markets, even if the initial cost of technological innovation may seem high, the price of drifting into irrelevance and obsolescence is even higher; not just for credit unions, but for their members, and the local communities they service.

He encouraged the audience to consider that while such disruption poses real challenges, it also creates very unique opportunities which Credit Unions.

“The members-as-owners model uniquely positions Credit Unions to leverage technology to not only tailor personalised financial services to their customers, but it can also create new opportunities to empower members and increase their positive impact on local communities.”

Wooding believes that there is time and a great incentive for credit unions to get their digital act in order.

“Many credit union executives are fully aware that the world of financial services delivery is changing dramatically. However, although CEOs and business executives acknowledge the potential for digital disruption, they often lack tools, techniques, and criteria for identifying and assessing potential disruptions.”

Wooding encouraged the executives to develop a digital transformation strategy, focusing on customer service differentiators, including greater self-service options, mobile payments and account management, and more innovative support tools and services for small and micro-businesses.

“Navigating today’s changing social and economic landscape demands that credit union leaders carefully examine their current state; chart a customer-service oriented path to the future that caters relevantly to the changing member needs within their own markets, and appropriately invest in and empower staff and their member communities to execute. The credit unions that take these steps will have the best opportunity to leverage technology to innovate. More importantly, they will also have the best chance of survival and success in the age of digital disruption.”





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