By Stuart R. Levine

Published In, The Credit Union Times

Whether it’s apps, websites, artificial intelligence or blockchain technology, the modern digital age is causing credit union leaders to take a deep dive into what their members’ digital experience means for business. For the vast majority (88%), this digital transformation is “extremely or quite important”, as CO-OP Financial Services (CFS) found in its recent survey of 221 credit union leaders. Nearly half of the respondents felt their credit union provided an “inferior or far inferior” digital experience when compared to the digital leaders they identified as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple. Only 10% felt their credit union was “meeting the high standard they set.” Furthermore, 73% say their credit union is planning to increase budgets for digital initiatives in the next year to address this need.

IBM Institute for Business Value has been studying this digital landscape. IBM surveyed 600

C-suite and line-of-business executives at companies pursuing a “reinvention” of the customer experience through a digital approach. These companies from multiple regions and industries provide insights that are useful to any sector navigating this world. IBM highlighted how “Outperformers”, the 25% of companies that beat their competition in revenue and profit, demonstrate a particular regard for their employees and their organization’s culture in this time of rapid change.

It is truer now than ever that engaged and satisfied employees result in satisfied members, and your employees are on the front lines in transforming the digital customer experience. Outperformers’ (74%) feel their employees are invested in making sure customers are happy, and that their employees’ morale suffers when customers are not satisfied. Just 45% of the companies that did not outperform see that level of linkage between customer and employee satisfaction.

Outperformers are data-driven. They measure the correlation between their employees’ positive experience and customer satisfaction, and they ensure that reinventing the customer digital experience will also be constructive for employees. Their leaders prioritize their employees and invest in them, making sure that they have the learning, skills, work environments, systems, and communication to support them.

A healthy culture with first-rate employee communication can help you recruit and retain the talent needed to tackle this digital world. Employees may fear digital transformation costing them jobs or shifting their responsibilities in a way for which they are not prepared. To calm these fears, leaders help people understand how they fit into the overall picture of change, and how that picture aligns with the organization’s vision and mission. They prepare employees for new management structures, and the different additional responsibilities that are required as technology advances.

Competition for talent is often the gating factor for digital transformation. Indeed 39% of credit union leaders told CFS that lack of technology capabilities among staff and outside partners is inhibiting their digital transformation. So smart companies use this lens of digital change to re-examine their talent recruitment and retention strategies, rethink employee performance metrics, and incentives, and reconsider employee promotion and succession plans.

Outperformers invest to create and maintain a customer-focused culture in which their teams push to innovate quickly to create a seamless, frictionless customers experience. They work across internal functions to break down silos, while retaining a depth of knowledge and expertise within the functional groups. Outperformers apply this approach with external firms as well. The diversity of perspective and talent that outside experts bring can permit more rapid implementation of customer-serving innovation. They are much more likely to create an ecosystem where needed talent can come from outside of the organization. It’s important that a culture of collaboration and talent be established both within and outside of the credit union

Organizations can use all the support possible in aligning the employee experience, organizational culture and the member experience during this time of rapid change. Just as Outperformers seek external digital talent to supplement and reinforce their internal resources, they are more willing to engage outside specialists to work with them on development and implementation of strategy. These experts help companies to “get it right”, by bringing a perspective based on a depth and breadth of experience. Furthermore, when outside experts interface with both leadership and managers on the strategy implementation, executive leadership capacity increases enabling a greater focus on their core responsibilities.

Employees are the most valuable players in the challenge of the optimal customer digital experience. And teamwork is the secret sauce – both within your organization and with the talent you bring from outside of the organization to support it. The same discipline driving delivery of a superb digital customer experience pays off in delivering a superb experience to your employees.