FROM OUR PARTNERS: Designing Products and Solutions with the Member in the Middle

By Abbie Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Lending Experience for CUNA Mutual Group

Over the past, we’ve seen how technology has changed traditional distribution channels. This change increased significantly during the pandemic when members were forced to use digital channels for nearly everything in their lives.

This presented new challenges that tested our strategies for meeting members where they are and best serving their needs.

Key challenges moving forward in a digital-first, post-pandemic world

As we move into a post-pandemic environment, members live in a crowded digital marketplace. As a result, member expectations are higher, creating a new standard for digital touchpoints in their product purchase journey. Now more than ever, they want a convenient, simple and intuitive experience.

But, as industry insiders know, lending, insurance, auto applications and claims may be confusing for members. So, how do we take on their changing needs?

After observing some changes to the member journey, we found a couple factors that we took into consideration when building products and experiences for our members.

First, we seek to understand the member journey at a deeper level. We know that the member journey often starts digitally but doesn’t necessarily end digitally. Where there are multiple points of interaction, it gives us the opportunity to meet members on their preferred channel and provide them with relevant information that supports their decisions during their purchase journey.

Second, we must improve their in-person experience, which must be highly personalized. Yes, we can leverage technology and streamline the early stages of the member experience, but the face-to-face experience also needs to be top-of-mind. There will continue to be times when your members want to connect with credit union staff, one-on-one. Some of those interactions might happen through a computer screen or over the phone, but at least in the near term, it’s unlikely your members will want to rely entirely on a digital experience. It’s critical for us to focus on digital first, but not digital only.

By understanding the types of interactions members are having with our products throughout their purchase journey – both digitally and face-to-face – we are better equipped to evolve and simplify our product solutions to increase member satisfaction, adoption and awareness.

A great example of this is our member claims experience. As member service expectations change, we look for ways to evolve our service model to continuously improve how we show up for our members. When a member is filing a claim, it may be a challenging or traumatic time in their life. They may be working through something that’s emotionally or mentally difficult. We can make the digital experience simple and efficient, but only people can deliver empathy and care in times of stress and hardship. So, we take that into consideration to create the right balance between digital and human touchpoints for the member journey.

Designing products that could meet members’ digital expectations

Most members may say that insurance, lending or filing a claim is confusing, and they may rely on actual people for help. When we think about a digital-first user, we know there’s different expectations for each member. They may not have the same attention span without a loan officer or insurance agent sitting in front of them. However, at the heart of this experience, members still want to understand the value and the cost.

This means we have to streamline the experience for the members and think about it through our product design as well. The key is leveraging data to enable highly personalized experiences that were previously delivered by humans. Within our organization, our culture around data – how we use it to drive insights, instrument our experiences and fuel a test-and-learn strategy – is the biggest change in how we design new and innovative solutions.

Technology and data help us create, for example, a great claims experience that is fast, streamlined and able to pay claims as quickly as possible. Our culture of continuously testing and learning to meet changing expectations allows us to stay agile in a digital environment that’s always evolving.

Our strategy of designing experiences and products that meet the “Member in the Middle” comes down to understanding the member journey at a deep level. This understanding is built on technology and data that compliments any in-person touchpoint following that first digital experience.

Remember, digital first doesn’t mean digital only.