Embracing a Customer First Mindset [Webinar Transcript]

Embracing a Customer First Mindset [Webinar Transcript]

Evolving customer expectations, increased competition & new technology trends are disrupting the financial industry. Banks and credit unions must bridge the gap between digital and physical channels and rethink traditional processes, in order to redefine Modern Banking. Below, we have provided the full transcript to our recent “Embracing a Customer First Mindset” virtual panel discussion.

Topics discussed include:

  • Evolving customer expectations, increasing competition, and new technology trends in the financial industry.
  • Bridging the digital-physical gap in modern banking.
  • Friction points in the customer omni-channel journey.
  • Best practices on building personalized relationship.

Nathan Poellet 2:08
Welcome, everyone today. As we mentioned, my name is Nathan pellet. And I’m the Senior Director of Product. And we’re going to be moderating this panel today. I’m really excited about the panelists that we’ve got here. So let’s kind of dive into the agenda. And I’m going to introduce you to all time. So I think we’ve got pretty straightforward agenda today. Here. This is the introduction right now I’m going to introduce our panelists right away here, We’re going to do a little bit of level setting of the state we find ourselves in in this industry right now, and then dig into our panel discussion, which is really going to be the bulk of the next hour. And then finally, as we mentioned earlier, we are going to set aside a little bit of time at the end for some questions. So please feel free to submit your questions now. And we’re going to try to get to them at the end of this hour.

On that note, let’s get to our panelists. So, first up on our panel, we have Erin from United Federal Credit Union and Erin, Can you introduce yourselves to our attendees?

Erin Hennessy 3:17
Absolutely. Thank you, Nathan. My name is Erin Hennessey, I have been leading banks and credit unions, up to 8 billion in assets to transform their business for over about 15 years. My approach is to number one challenge the status quo Never Settle when it comes to alignment of business strategy and customer experience. And I accomplish this with my oversight in the areas of corporate strategy, digital technology and delivery, data analytics, marketing brand product and innovation management. Today, I work for United Federal Credit Union. It’s an amazing organization. And we’re around 3 billion in assets with over 35 locations, six states across the United States, members in all 50 States and internationally, We have put a focus and resources towards transforming the way we do business and delivering financial services to our members.

Nathan Poellet 4:16
Next up, we have Paula from ChannelNet.

Paula Tompkins 4:21
Hi, how are you, Nathan, and thank you so much for inviting me to participate today. I founded channel that in 1985. Before there was an internet and have written all the ways of technology. We were the original digital agency back in 85. And today we spend the bulk of our time working with banks and credit unions to drive improve customer experience through personalization technology. So I look forward to the panel discussion.

Nathan Poellet 5:03
And Next up we have Stephen from Finn Ai.

Stephen Menon 5:09
Hey, Nathan, Thanks very much for having me here today. Once again, my name is Stephen Menon. I’m the VP of product at Finn Ai. I, just a little bit more about myself. Prior to joining them I spent 13 years in the financial services consumer banking space, USA, Canada. I started my career at MBA America, the largest distributed lender in the US and help scale the Canadian business. I oversaw marketing and product but also during a period of time around our customer service and call center operations. Actually, I have the pleasure of leading our product and conversational design teams. So I made the transition from banking to the startup world nearly two years ago and it’s been an awesome ride so far. Phinney I is a conversation with distinct SAS product, previously known as chatbots, is powered by natural language processing AI. We did all products solely for the banking vertical. The reason why the language of banking is very complex, and need a specialist to be able to help banks within their AI transformation journeys. We have customers both in Canada, the US, as well as assistance deployed in production in Germany, Central America and South Africa. Our assistant can speak English, French, Spanish and German. Really looking forward to presenting the panel today and talking about digital transformation. They’re happy.

Nathan Poellet 6:37
Fantastic. Thanks, Stephen. Next up, we have Nicole from Main Street credit union.

Nicole Laven 6:44
Thanks so much, Nathan. I’m Nicole Laven, I’m the SVP of Marketing and Communications at Mainstreet Credit Union. We have 12 locations across Southwestern Ontario and Canada. There I lead the external engagement function for Main Street, which includes for advertising, branding, community outreach, digital marketing, and social media, our website, SEO and SEM dot analytics, and all of our internal and external communications and product related items. So It’s a large portfolio. And I’m very excited today to have the opportunity to discuss the innovation and baking topic, as well as our recent integration of the coconuts booking system within our website as well.

Nathan Poellet 7:31
Finally, myself, I’m Nathan Poellet, I’m the Senior Director of Product at coconut software. I’ve been in the SAS game for better part of 15 years now. And I’ve been with coconut since the beginning of 2019. And coconut provides a appointment scheduling platform that services, primarily banks and credit unions. And we do that through all sorts of different ways that you might book an appointment through your website, or social channels, or through a call center, or walking into a branch to our lobby management solution. So we started to do all facets of scheduling appointments with your customers or members.

And on that note, let’s dive into the topics that we’re going to be sort of looking at today. So First off, we’ve got a poll here, where we’re looking at what the top priorities are for the attendees here for 2020. So our hope here is to sort of gather some opinions right now, please enter in as many of these things as as you know, are sort of on your mind right now. And we’re going to hop into the poll results in about another 20 seconds or so. And our hope here is that we can use some of these results to help steer our panelists so that we’re touching on the topics that are actually most relevant to our attendees here today. No, I’m just gonna wait another couple of seconds here. It’s your last minute answers. And All right, Can we hop over to the results?

Okay. So as we look through these last things that are kind of sitting around and 60 60% looks like the most interesting topics to our attendees here, data collection, analysis, and how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. So hopefully, our panelists can kind of hone in on those two topics as we get into those sections of our of our talk. Yeah, we had our meeting, Okay. Moving on current market realities, are feeling this, and banking and credit union space, quite heavily. But I think this is true across all sorts of different markets. But now this one here says, evolving customer expected consumer expectations and technology trends are impacting banking industry, more than ever, I think this is a sentiment that it’s felt by anyone who works in this space. Let’s back this up with some more detail, though. There we go.

Nathan Poellet 10:50
I think these are the present market realities, you know, we’ve got constant pressure to deliver growth for our shareholders, that the members of our credit union, or public shareholders of our bank, We are constantly fighting against what the ever changing regulations wants, our members are increasingly demanding digital experiences, and digital overall is a total game changer, it changes how we work, changes how we interact with each other, inside of our organizations, and with our members, and customers outside of it. So On that note, we can either just carry on with business as usual, which I think we all know, is going to be painful, Or we can embrace change. And that happens. Our hope here is that we can actually make that less painful and and actually exciting. My know, I’m excited about what the future of banking really look like. So No, let’s, let’s get into our first question on the panel here. So I’m gonna direct this first question to Stephen. And, Stephen, what do you consider to be some of the main friction points impacting customer experience? Today?

Stephen Menon 12:23
I think there’s there’s a few things that come to mind. I think one that we’re all experiencing is the buyer personalization, particularly for digital channel experience has been dramatically raised by some of the larger companies like Amazon, or Netflix, that are really using data to create experiences that are more personalized than we’ve ever seen before across any industry. And that expectation is now moving across all digital experiences and into banking. I think the second key trend that’s causing some friction is the real shift from phone talking to phone messaging. But even if you look at your own phone yesterday, I’m guessing most people’s phones have a lot more text messages than phone calls. Yet banks, particularly from servicing, have relied on the call center channel for many years. And You know, there’s a lot an appetite for having to wait on hold and to follow the the legacy processes that exist. According to Facebook, over 80% of adults and 90% of Kenyan prefer messages or message every day. And 70% of millennials try to actually digitally file servers before colleagues their backs are being us I can tell you from last year. I think the other part that we see it just because of the high turnover, and long training cycles required for frontline staff, the customer experience and the risk of non compliance is ever higher. And customers are expecting a 24 seven experience in their channel of choice. And one that’s designed for them.

Nathan Poellet 14:14
Thanks, I’m going to direct the same question to Erin. So Erin, Look, what are you seeing is some of the main friction points impacting the customer experience at United federal?

Erin Hennessy 14:27
Sure, Thank you, Nathan. As bankers, as credit union folks, we are notorious, actually for making things a little bit more complex than they need to be. And So in essence, the main friction points from my point of view, takes place due to the complexity that we create, as bankers. And I’ve looked those into kind of three categories. We’ve created friction around our products and services, around our customer interactions or our member interactions, And then our organizational alignment. So let me dive into organizational alignment. And what I kind of mean there. So the folks that are on the line, You know, answer this in your head or out loud in your office, but when you design a new customer experience or member experience, How do you go about that design? What is your organization’s philosophy, what’s your principle is it stated anywhere that printed may be posted up on a wall or saved on the desktop of your programmers or organization wide. Because some of us engage in shiny object design. And that’s what happens when a vendor demos the new technology and we own on we have to have it. Some of us say we are cutting edge, we are at the forefront of technology through our innovation of us engaging customer centric design, that’s great, because hey, the customers at the center. But what happens and sometimes what’s missing, what’s missing when we either don’t clearly state Our how we design is that we build technology. And we build experiences that create friction, because we haven’t looked at the whole picture. And So, for instance, when we use the word digital transformation, It’s a great buzzword. We love using that financial industry media, They use that word to get us to read their articles. But basically, it’s silos the ownership of the member or customer experience into one or two groups, because we have the word digital in front of it, When What we really need is ownership from all areas of the business to truly transform that customer experience. And So here’s an example of what we’ve discovered. Because we clearly decided, stated our design principle and then we followed

So, our online Deposit Account opening was well below industry average. So we started and we did what any good financial institution would do. We called in our current vendor, and we shook our fists of them. And we looked for a new vendor, I’m probably semi joking there. The process we took was actually focused on united federal credit unions philosophy of designing for the customer experience through innovation and continuous improvement. So what we did is we asked the project team to document current state, and understand each step in that member experience and understand each example of friction. And I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone on the line, there were there were there were lots of examples of friction. But what what was most surprising to us was that we uncovered decisions that we had made ourselves about our process, like our risk settings, and our identity verification process were outdated. Once we understood this, we were able to dive in and redesign that, to fit our business needs to improve the customer experience by eliminating steps and eliminating human required processes, auto improving us auto declining, etc. And those changes alone have made the largest impact actually on our customer experience. In the first 30 days, we opened a record high number of deposit products online. And if we had first gone with, with being technology and solutions, I think we would have still been climbing uphill. So I think what’s important, is clearly state what your design philosophy is. Make sure you’re all aligned around that. And look at all sides of the business, Look at the member experience and look at how you’re delivering member experience in the back office. And then find those those fun new technology and solutions.

Nathan Poellet 18:33
I love that answer, Erin. I’m really curious about your design philosophy, and how you instill that, in your culture, outside of say, a couple of digital experience teams, Can you can you dive in a little bit deeper into sort of what you’ve done at United federal to really get everyone to kind of embrace that design philosophy.

Erin Hennessy 18:58
Sure, And I think part of it is change management and its communication. So from a change management internal communication standpoint, We know all the channels with which we communicate to our, we call them team united to our employees. And then we also open up channels for them to communicate back to us because for it to be a conversation and for us to make sure that we’re truly moving in the same direction, it needs to go both ways. So first, we take advantage of being very clear and articulating where we need to go, And why we’re going there. And then we create and actually engage in channels of communication back with our team. So our CEO Terry O’Rourke commits time to visit every single branch, every single department, he did it last year, he did it again this year. And we take notes and he conducts kind of a town hall. He gets feedback, he shares personally with with the folks there on and where we’re going and why and what his philosophy is, what the senior leadership teams philosophy is. And people can ask questions. And when you can ask questions directly with the CEO, you understand the why. And once you understand the why you can have passion around it, and you can have engagement around it. We also have, you know, several other channels only one I’ll kind of touch on. But one channel is we do have an anonymous portal where you can reach out to our CEO and the senior leadership team and kind of ask any question you want to give feedback on anything you want to. And so these are great ways that we can kind of understand the pulse of the organization, understand where they are on the number one awareness curve, The understanding curve, and then the adoption of where we’re headed as an organization. And so that’s kind of the communication piece, Then from the Hey, are we actually adopting it? Do we know that we’re making a difference? We have launched a project management office. And so we are getting our arms around making sure that when we design things, when we move forward with a project, when we prioritize, we’re doing so with the same priorities and with the same philosophy. And so that mechanism in place allows us to make sure that, Yep, We’ve got people on board, they understand, they’re passionate about it. But then also in the implementation, which is kind of the important part. We we are actually following it, And then the final piece is is OK, so then what do our members think about it. And I think it’s important that financial institutions really have a conversation with their members and with their customers. So we have several mechanisms for for that to take place, some formal and informal. But we regularly regularly reach out to our members to understand their experience, you know, at the branch at the teller line at the ATM on our website, When they you know, created an external transfer, etc. And so from that feedback, we can understand if we are making the right changes, They are member centric, and we can continue to to iterate and improve going forward.

Nathan Poellet 22:20
That’s great. I’ll move on to the next question here. I’m going to direct this one to to Paula first. So Paula, How can financial organizations set themselves apart to deliver exceptional service and meet the evolving needs of today’s customers?

Paula Tompkins 22:40
Well, I think my rules for this has always been make it easy and more frictionless for customers and members to do business with your financial institution. And I guess the question is, how do you do that. And I’ve got three ways that I would recommend. One is to serve up curated content from existing sources, both online and paper based, serve it up in bite sized pieces that are very easy for a customer or member to digest. And It’s interesting, because what we’ve done is we have social channels, we have blogs, we have educational content, community events, products and services, LinkedIn profiles, I mean, we’re all over the place, YouTube videos, and we really expect our customers to jump around with us. So what we believe that the best way to go is to ensure that you look across all these disparate, digital and, and other channels. And you bring those together in a bite sized piece that is relevant to an individual customer or member. And Let me give you a use case. Let’s say a customer adopts a new product, The first thing we ought to do is thank that customer for adopting that new product. If we have a YouTube video, We should combine that with the Thank you About that product college use what its features and advantages. And it doesn’t have to be a sexy video, it can be a product manager speaking about it, You want to include social reviews about that product that had been delivered by your various constituents and audiences. And to reinforce that purchase decision, you want to bring in specific local community events and educational activities that are related to where that customer is literally what city what state what zip code. I like and I thought Erin’s comment about constantly questioning members and customers about their experiences across the board. And we like to use a net promoter score kind of arrangement where it’s a one question, You don’t need long drawn out surveys, people are turned off by those, just give them you know, a rating scale, Let them rate, how they how you performed, and then give them a box that they can complain, if that’s what they want to do, and then turn around. And that information should instantly go to a designate. And that designate that should then pick up the phone and thank that customer for the good, good feedback, and asked how they can help to correct the bad feedback. And Last but not least, let’s always make sure that the closest branch in the people associated with that branch, always front and center for that individual customer or member.

The second thing I would say is you need to make it easier to schedule a meeting in branch with a specialist to help with expert advice when it’s needed. And I think both of the credit unions on the phone, Nicole and Erin have adopted coconut software scheduling capability. And we need to be more respectful of a customer’s time they’re busy, They don’t want to wait around. They don’t want to just stop by and hope that the person that they need to meet with is in at lunch or in another meeting or something like that. I have a little True Story I’d like to pass on and CEO of a very successful Midwest Investment Company was required to go to the branch with his daughter to sign her up. And her daughter is college age to sign her up for a checking account. And after a long detailed pitch, on all the products and services of the bank, they walked out with a three ring binder of information. And not only is this wasteful, printing all this darn paper and handing it to somebody in the hopes that they’re going to sit at home or put it on their bookshelf, They’re going to throw it away. And it’s just a waste of money and time. So it in further it wasn’t a good use of the of the executive and his daughters time. So I think understanding in how processes need to change and be redesigned. And also how to be very crisp and tight, tightly integrated between the digital channel. And the brick and mortar personnel is very, very important. So being able to make sure that when that customer comes in for that appointment, We are ready, We’re not going to waste their time. And we’re not going to hand them a thick three ring binder.

And then my very last comment, and one that I feel very strongly about, If a customer member can’t come to the branch, for whatever reason, or meet with the specialist on on in their office, You should think about using two week video conferencing was secure digital signature capability. So the customer member can had the meeting in their office, If they’re out of town, or on the comfort of their own couch. So I think these are some technologies and capabilities. All of these are very, very important. And driving you way beyond and above what’s happening out there with the bulk of banks and credit unions.

Nathan Poellet 29:22
Great answer. I want to direct the same question to to Stephen now. So Stephen for deny how, how do you guys see this situation right now? How can’t find one financially, organizations actually set themselves apart from their competitors, and deliver exceptional service, while also sort of keeping up with the ever evolving needs of our customer bases?

Stephen Menon 29:49
Yeah, I think there’s there’s a few things that come to mind. I think Paula’s last comment, customers want to meet the bank and their channel of choice in their own, where they where they are, where they are every day, whether they’re living in comfort, whether it’s office or at home, So enabling customers to meet you in financial institution. And their channel their choice in in in the means that there are more convenient to them, that they’re using through their other major ways of communicating. It’s just the reality of where communications going. And when we see that quite often through again, through messaging, people want either a message they want to consume video, when they’re when they’re communicating with people. And it really it goes down to the fundamental value that a bank can provide of helping make people’s lives more efficient, helping them save more time to do things that they care about, versus having to wait on hold, or, you know, not having an efficient way to meet with the organization. One of the interesting stuff that came out of the recent Gartner survey and just around how customer services evolving within the financial services space is that Gartner estimates by the end of 2020 2020. But 85% of customer service interactions will begin with a chatbot. So I think one of the ways that banks can begin differentiating, and we’re seeing this, among some of the larger banks in the US that already can be a head start like Bank of America and their Erica product is conversational systems are part of the future of customer experience. And they can provide a lot of value by being available 24 seven, By enabling digital and personalized experiences, and kind of echo something that Paul mentioned earlier, he will provide pieces of content that already exists within the bankers memory, or knowledge system in very manageable chunks, whether that be through a video message, or in the future events or conversation. Think The other part that’s really important for banks to focus on is not letting their silos earlier comment Their silos by product or their silos of data, not allow them to have a unified customer experience. And What I mean by that is that, you know, very often with large banks, you have to call into the credit card group and the cul de sac area of the mortgage group and college and stuff area for this group. And also you can actually see your whole data. So banks that are part of partnering with data aggregators, like Amex, with a partner cinny eyes, or you’ll layer some of the other large companies to be able to provide customers with their full financial, you know, out of Europe with GDPR, You know, the regulations forcing customers to be able to have access to their data and own their data, I think that’s only going to be a reality for North American banks. So those banks actually give their customers their data back first, And actually provide value for the data that they capture. To create a unique and personalized customer experience is a great way for banks to stay ahead and differentiate.

Paula Tompkins 33:11
You said a couple of really interesting things in there Steven know what the one that I would love to dig into a little bit deeper, as I believe you said something along the lines of it should be financial interest institutions goal to actually make their customers and members lives more efficient. I think that’s an interesting angle on financial institutions that I don’t know if it is a common reality today, I don’t know if any of our other panelists sort of have any follow up thoughts on that notion.

Paula Tompkins 33:50
People have been time starved for years. And everybody’s got, you know, working wives are working husbands and, you know, their kids and play dates and PTA meetings and soccer teams, and it’s that nobody has time anymore. And so we as marketers, you know, have had to adapt to that for the last 20 or so years. And It’s hard because, you know, they are not going to let you in the customer, the member is not going to let your message in, unless they think it’s valuable to them. And useful to them and relevant to them. So many and many study have talked about this. And yet we still force them to come into a branch to open a checking account. Or, you know, we want them to answer a 45 question survey. And, you know, it’s it’s just not reality in today’s world.

Nathan Poellet 35:05
All right, let’s move on to the next question. I’m going to direct this one to Nicole. So, Nicole, What are some of the most innovative initiatives that you’ve seen recently that really helped to set banks and credit unions apart from their competitors?

Nicole Laven 35:25
Yeah, so with this question, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to kind of dive into three financial institutions that I think have done an exceptional job being innovative. The first one being, um, clubbing their customers, their culture is very customer driven. And they first reinvented themselves about 10 years ago by making their branches more community centric. And an article they described it those so similar to Kathy’s and other gathering places. And they called it their neighborhood store, where they actually had engaging spaces to browse local merchandise, shop online and enjoy a cup of coffee, while learning about community events and resources, All their stores were fully equipped as well to offer a full suite of banking services from personal to Business Services. So when people visiting their physical spaces dropped, they introduced an advisor in your pocket with their mobile app. So their their community neighborhood stores was really in and around that about 10 years ago and around 2010. And now, even though it was a very engaging space, Clearly, we’ve all been talking about it today, less of us people are walking into our branch location. So using that information, they said, How do we continue to have that personalized one on one connection with our members. And knowing that we have, We spent how many hours a day on our mobile devices and engaging with apps in our email and other certain other chat functions. They married thoughts of desire of individuals to connect on their mobile device with a human person. So looking at the bios of the advisors, you’re able to say, you know, maybe I want to be service through the app by Sarah because she’s in a similar age demographic, to me, she also has kids and she also likes playing tennis. So there can be a little bit about relationship building through the app. And if there is not available, there’s certainly other people available to assist and other hours. So they’ve definitely take that taken that personalized approach and buried it with the mobile piece. You can chat and text through the app directly with that person. Another one on that sit stand up to me a simple bank in the states again, but they have made a personal financial analysis and information at the core of their products. And their accounts are structured around gold development by the customer…

…and coaching them to achieve that for the online tools. The brand video I saw a few years back at a conference actually showed a marriage proposal in reverse. So from when he knew he was She was the one for him. He used to simple account called ring said he called it to stay for his goal so he could be they’re proposing and it was very inspiring. And as you can imagine as a tear jerker type of video and story. So really making it very personalized and very engaging even though it is an online based financial institution. The last one is Canadian example, blue shore financial of Vancouver area in the west coast of Canada, they rebranded many years back, and they targeted the opposite West Coast active outdoorsy, working professional. The brand concept focused on honoring the landscape of the communities that they’re in. So there might be a rock climbing display on the branch wall or local artwork. There’s beverage centers, free Wi Fi, lounge areas and more. And it’s all about financial saw financial wellness and wealth services at the core focus of their business. Their brand when introduced and continues to be a very unique one in the financial space. And their events include things like jobs and keep it in the park run events and other pursuits directly targeted to their key balls, the active professional demographic. Their branches are beautiful spaces and reflect the natural landscape with wood stove and waterfalls and focus on relaxation and being financially fit. I think in today’s day and age to wrap this piece up as I would say you have to be innovative to get people to visit your physical space. And if you’re going to have them as like your your personal, your physical space, as we talked about convenience must be king in people’s busy lifestyles. So our credit union Main Street recently launched a new website and shortly after we introduced coconut coconut calendar booking as an option online. So right from the top of the homepage, you’ll see if you go to Main Street cu.ca You’ll see our banner at the top and that are footers on all of our individual pages, we’ve made sure that we have a call to action button, whether it’s driving them to a point, line color branch or connect with our Contact Us page which has inquiry for We’re working to make more of our products and onboarding 100% online. However, we’re just not there yet being the size that we are and some of the availability of full digital services in Canada. So at the moment, what we’re looking to do is just drive that call to action in terms of booking and having as much as we can, For convenience in terms of people coming in. We also have wealth other specialized services or travel some of our smaller and more rural location. And with digital signatures and video meetings and other things occurring, When we have that in place, we feel like there can be more digital meetings occurring and the focus on having everything having to be done in the branch will greatly lessen similar to what Paula was mentioning in the previous question.

Nathan Poellet 41:38
Fantastic. I’m gonna move along to the next question here. I’m gonna direct this one to Erin. So Erin, What do you feel is the biggest challenge holding organizations back from delivering excellent omni channel experiences? We’ve talked a lot about throughout this entire panel discussion so far.

Erin Hennessy 42:02
So I love this question. Because I firmly believe that one of the biggest challenges holding us back is that we actually call out the word omni channel, I’m not a big fan of that word. In the same way, I don’t like digital transformation, because it instantly creates a silo Well, there has to be a digital department or or maybe that’s in technology, or maybe that’s member experience. Or maybe that’s marketing, The word omni channel reinforces the continued need for channels, which is a nice way of saying silo. And frankly, let’s think about it. Our consumers don’t think that way. They don’t perceive it that way. No one leaves the house and says, Hey, honey, I’m going to transact via the brand’s channel today be home around noon. So if we don’t stop perceiving the customer experience by channel will never really meet our customers where they are. And, and so why is this important? And you know, why do I state all that because in financial institutions normally, channel dictate structure, which dictates ownership, and then that impacts your customers experience. So my recommendation is take a good long look at how your organization is structured. And if you have the same kind of basic departments and ownership that you did 10 years ago, you’re probably missing the boat. And I encourage you to rethink about that and focus on the member and the customer first, What are they trying to do? What are they trying to accomplish, because I’m going to tell you, they want to buy a car, not apply for be underwritten, approved, closed and funded for an auto loan. And yet all of those words are probably departments within your organization. My recommendation, And I think the biggest challenge that holds us back is lack of ownership across the entire organization of that customer experience, focus, align resources, and facilitate everyone around what are what are consumers are actually trying to do. So I think it starts with to get beyond this challenge if if we’re structured in silos and and we think digital transformation has to be owned by technology, or we think omni channel or there’s a lot of channels who owns this channel and that channel. I think that that you start with the reinforcement within your organization of a unified ownership of that customer experience. Whether you’re an underwriting, whether you’re an operations, whether you’re in accounting facilities, you have ownership of an aspect of that customer experience. And that’s important, because our consumers, they’re they’re just living their lives. And part of that is moving money, or taking on debt, Without battery medium, so And so if we kind of remove these silos, and we think about it really, truly customer first, then we can build our departments in our channels and our activities and structure ourselves around the experience we’re trying to build, and how we all have an impact in that. And I think if you can successfully do that, you’re really on the right path.

Nathan Poellet 45:21
That’s great. I want to direct the same question to Nicole. Would you echo Erin’s sentiments here? Do you see the challenges facing you at Mainstreet a little differently?

Erin Hennessy 45:34
Now, I definitely echo what Erin mentioned, one piece I had note about this question was just I would say one of the biggest challenges, at least for us, and what I hear from other peers of other credit unions, is the integration of all our systems into one. So a lot of us mentioned that our branch telephone, online website, and other platforms are released sitting separate from one another. And the desire for us to be able to have these items melt together and be able to enact marketing automation, and utilize our data analytics to its fullest capabilities with certainly open up a lot of doors, and make the omni channel experience, You know, better for our members, certainly. And I think it’s so important to know, our members for knowing our members in the future with that coming into the branches frequently, will need to be able to do this through our data and laughter our face to face interaction. So being able to harness the information, and inform immediate outreach and job opportunities to the members in real time, When and how they need it and want that information or product. And that the customer feels like it’s a match to their unique needs, and that we somehow know and understand them through the online environment, I think it’s going to be very, very important that that aspect of personalization, I think is huge.

Nathan Poellet 46:54
Great answer. And I think that’s actually a perfect segue into my next question here, which I’m gonna direct to Stephen. Stephen, How can banks and credit unions really actually create the personalized relationships that we’re talking about here? And How can they use technology to build and nurture those relationships?

Stephen Menon 47:18
The comments from the last question that really resonated with me around the way that banks speak about banking, and channels and products and how people actually speak about banking. And that’s one of the things that we’ve learned the most about, AI is actually getting insight to how people are asking questions, what questions they have for their bank, What words they used to call their checking account, You know, what were the names that they use to indicate what they’re looking for, and helping banks connect their language to actually consumer language. I think that’s one of the really exciting things that you know, having more data through products, like conversational systems, or virtual assistants, or even your normal call center chat major platforms, to not just track what people are asking by, you know, what I call it a rep indicates in their post call completion task based on data, and unbiased data. I think that’s a huge opportunity right now. And I think that another thing that comes to mind is where they can use technology to help break down those silos. Different data aggregators can provide a unified view of the customers. financial situation is a great way to allow people to actually feel like the proxy happen with their one back is what the whole financial lives and that’s how people really make advantage of our lives, not just amongst the one bank or amongst the series of banks, is their whole financial picture, The Bank you help them with? I think, another thing that really jumps to mind when we’re talking about how to enable personalization is the importance of to move to data driven decision making versus who has the loudest voice or who has the biggest title of decision making, actually making decisions based on what people are asking for what people need, is really going to empower organizations to keep their customers.

Nathan Poellet 49:36
Do you have any examples of the kind of language disconnect between consumers and financial institutions that you commonly run into? Stephen? I find that a really interesting topic.

Stephen Menon 49:56
Yeah, you know, it’s So just how we how it comes into today is that, you know, you will have, We understand, you know, how banking works by different product lines, and not both that kind of organizational traditional structure. And then we’ll create, you know, a series of ways that people actually may ask for a payment product or car product. But then, you know, people have their own terminology, or say, my account or the green account, or maybe a legacy name, The product was in 20 years ago, All that internal language that people may use, that’s been pushed to customers, they may refer to it as. So again, it’s, it’s a constant view of the data coming in. And and that’s really not being leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and the power of technology to help protect to understand what people are looking to do.

Nathan Poellet 50:58
And I want to direct the same question to Nicole now. So Nicole, How can banks credit unions create more personalized relationships? And, and how can they leverage technology to do so?

Nicole Laven 51:13
I would really think member segmentation is really important. So previously, you might have had for a number of segments that might have been very age driven. Whereas now you would have 20, maybe 30, maybe 40 segments that saw that you’re going to create because they’re going to be so specific in terms of the brands, and tastes and preferences and channels and desires that each of those groups are going to have? And how do we ensure as a financial institution that we’re servicing that and I think the segmentation really ties in with the need for personalization. So especially with the millennial generation, it’s really about them wanting to feel like they’re uniquely known and understood. But I think that’s really important to target your voice, your product, your time of day delivery, for your messages, etc, basically, based upon each of those different segments. So really getting to know them, and structuring your, your services to what you’re going after. And try not to obviously, accommodate everyone, with everything. So really knowing your services and your strengths and being able to tailor that to those segments. And I also think the unquiet sample I mentioned earlier with the advisor in your pocket is a great way of showing how you can nurture relationships, using technology, and then shifting behaviors, especially for that younger demographic of wanting to text or wanting to use their phone over, you know, calling or coming into the branch, I think we just need to continue to innovate and say, How do people want to engage with us? And how do we ensure that, that we’re in their space and doing that appropriately for the changing times?

Nathan Poellet 52:52
Can you elaborate just a little bit deeper on like, what sort of factors you’re looking at to create these segments of detecting that it’s a lot more than just demographic information? But it’s actually based on past behaviors? Can Can you elaborate on that just a little bit?

Nicole Laven 53:08
Yeah. So we, we actually recently did a project with video and we looked at different segments, We’ve created multiple personas. So it’s, it’s looking at what type of jobs or careers they might have, it would be looking at what you know, what would be the preferred brands, what would be their preferred channels, like use channels, It would be looking at financial behaviors. And its really abusing, you know, knowledge that you can glean from looking at, you know, whether it be social media data, whether it be you know, segmentation or demographic information or local information that you’re able to get from census or other areas of information. So was quite an interesting dive, I would say it’s, it’s brought about a lot more information than we were expecting. And now we’re going through the more I would say, more challenging work of thing now that we know this information, how do we utilize it to our benefit, whether it be something like an email campaign, and deciding and being a little bit more targeted, I really, truly say I feel like we’re moving from what used to be a spray and pray approach and marketing, which was very much where we would get the same message out to all of our members and hope that it would stick where it needed to, to now, do you think God analytics and using, you know, the member segmentation approach to just be very, very specific and very drill down in our messaging, and being more targeted and strategic in terms of who we’re sending it to, and what we’re sending and how it’s being set and really thinking through all of the different areas of detail.

Nathan Poellet 54:50
Fascinating. I’m moving on to the next question. I’m just going to kind of direct this one towards the entire panel. And you know, please feel free to hop in here, Scott, Any thoughts? But what do you see as the sort of top factors that banks and credit unions to keep in mind when sort of implementing the types of innovations that we’re talking about today, and to try and bridge the digital and physical sort of interactions with your customers and members?

Erin Hennessy 55:25
Nathan, this is Erin, I can jump in and let others chime in as well. But from my perspective, there really are kind of top the top things that that folks should focus on. And, And I think it echoes something I said earlier, but we do all own that customer experience. And So when we’re implementing this, this bridge, it’s not digital versus branch. It’s not call versus text, it’s not social media versus anything, member experiences need to be true to the brand. No matter where our members are interacting with us, The level of service, the level of values, nothing changes, because a member decides to apply for a loan online or open a checking account in person. And so allowing everyone to own a piece of that customer experience, reinforcing the fact that we all own it, that didn’t really clear experience standards prior to implementing is really, really key. And secondly, I would say a focus towards simplicity. It’s easy when we implement new things when we try to be innovative when we make this bridge that we bring along with us Legacy processes, or legacy ways of thinking. And the more complicated innovation becomes, the less likely people will be to adopted both internally and externally. So again, be firm with your design, design philosophy, Use innovation and continuous improvement to the customer benefits. And make sure that the the technology and the systems you use are intuitive, reliable, and that you also take a look at your processes. So you don’t actually bring along on the bus to the future outdated ways of doing things. And the final piece that you need you really need to keep in mind is communication, communication, communication. And that applies internally and externally. employees need to know why a particular innovation is being implemented, how it impacts their job, And the member experience. And members, frankly, they need to understand the benefits of the innovation, how to use it, Why we launch it? What’s the benefit if they adopted? What pain point are we solving. And so if if there’s full ownership of that experience throughout your organization, you focus on simplicity, and you communicate, communicate, communicate, I think you’ll have some pretty good luck, bridging, bridging that digital to physical.

Nathan Poellet 57:55
And That’s fantastic. I want to add my thoughts on top of that there. You know, one of the themes that I’ve heard throughout a number of the panelists responses today is making sure that you’ve got tight feedback loops on any of the sort of innovative new initiatives you implement, and making sure that you’re actually really listening to your, to your members and your customers about what is working and what isn’t making sure that you actually kind of meet them where they’re at. So anyone have any additional thoughts on that particular topic?

Erin Hennessy 58:36
I think that’s essential. Nathan. I think you touched on a very good point, communication is two ways. And if we’re just sending messages, and we don’t understand how they were received, we don’t understand if the future behavior has changed or been impacted, Then we don’t know if we’ve made the right choice or not. And so I think, you know, engaging in those active discussions is very important. Have the banks and credit unions on the line, Do you have member or customer focus groups? Or boards or experienced teams? And how often do you reach out to them and, and even your employees, Your call center, Your branches, your chat data? That is a phenomenal resource to understand if you’re having the intended impact of phenomenal comments.

Nathan Poellet 59:29
Thank you very much for that answer. And actually all the answers, I think we are basically out of time here. Thank you to all of our panelists today for participating. I think we’ve got some very insightful answers and a lot of interesting food for thought there.

Meet Our Speakers

Erin Hennessy – Chief Innovation & Marketing Officer

United Federal Credit Union

As United Federal Credit Union’s Chief Innovation & Marketing Officer, Erin Hennessy leads the credit union’s strategic vision relating to the member experience and the corporate image throughout United’s six-state footprint. Erin believes in positively impacting members’ lives by delivering experiences in every channel that are personalized, predictive, and embedded into day-to-day life. She brings 16 years of marketing and financial services experience to the office every day, including the past 3 years at United.

Paula Tompkins – CEO & Founder


Paula Tompkins is a strategic visionary with a deep understanding of the application of marketing enabled by technology. Her long and illustrious career has established her as a leader in digital marketing, as well as in sales and service in omnichannel environments that include brick and mortar locations, online, mobile and call centers. She is a recognized authority on leveraging digital technologies to acquire, cross-sell and retain customers. Tompkins started her career as a commercial banker in 1974, on Wall Street at the Bank of New York. In her role as CEO of ChannelNet, Tompkins continues to innovate and is early to spot and solve for growing trends in digitalization and personalization. This led to the invention of OneClick Loyalty and OneClick Financial – both comprehensive SaaS platforms to help automotive dealerships, retail banks and credit unions digitally interact with their customers in a meaningful and memorable way.

Stephen Menon – VP Product

Finn AI

Stephen Menon is a seasoned digital acquisition and product strategist in the financial services industry. With over 12 years of working experience in various lines of business within banking, Menon formerly served as VP of Operations at MBNA (acquired by Bank of America) leading customer optimization strategies (experience, service, retention), and SVP of Marketing and Product. He later moved to TD Bank as AVP responsible for consumer credit cards, including the launch of Aeroplan which exceeded new account application and acquisition expectations by over 100%. Today, Menon is VP Product at Finn AI – an award-winning technology service provider for banks. He specializes in direct customer acquisition and strategic product design and partnerships.

Nicole Laven – SVP Marketing & Communications

Mainstreet Credit Union

Nicole Laven leads the external engagement function at Mainstreet Credit Union, which includes advertising, branding, community outreach, digital marketing & social media, website/SEO/SEM, data & analytics for marketing, internal and external communications, product research & recommendation, member satisfaction program, and more.​ She has worked in marketing communications for 15 years in finance, post-secondary education, and health care sectors and has currently been with Mainstreet CU for 7+ years. ​Her education includes a Bachelor’s of Business Communications degree, Post-Grad Diploma in PR, and a Master’s degree in Corporate Communications & Marketing.​ Additionally, she is a co-founder and organizer of the Ontario Credit Union peer marketing group, sits on the Ontario CCUA Marketing Committee, and is involved in facilitating with the marketing data analytics credit union back office collaboration program.

Nathan Poellet – Senior Director, Product

Coconut Software

Nathan Poellet leads the Product Development team at Coconut Software. He is passionate about not only creating new and innovative technology, but understanding users pains, adapting technology to human behaviours and processes, and creating real value for financial organizations. After a decade as a software engineer at various startups, he held a number of positions at Vendasta Technologies – including VP of Platform and VP of Product. His deep understanding of programming, products, and people helps him navigate decisions with insight and empathy. Nathan is deeply passionate about the growth of the SaaS community in Canada, specifically in Saskatchewan where he resides.