FOND DU LAC, Wis.—This article was written by Jim Jerving and originally published on CUtoday.info.
It’s no secret that the financial services industry is dominated by regulations and technology. While there is little we can do about the former, organizations can strive to develop technology that is user-friendly and intuitive.
Intuitive technology is especially needed today as there are a number of consumers as well as financial institution employees who are uncomfortable with or simply fearful of technology. And sometimes it seems as if engineers develop platforms with as many bells and whistles as possible that only another engineer can understand or use.
Info-Pro works with banks and credit unions to mitigate risks, cut costs and build efficiencies in their real estate portfolios. It has developed a technology platform that is user-friendly and intuitive by listening to customers, emphasizing training and championing a culture that prizes innovation.
Continuous and customized training helps users learn how to use the technology platform. Customers are asked: What are you trying to accomplish? What states do you have loans within?What are you expecting from this relationship? Then by working with the customer, solutions are presented.
Training is provided in stages to avoid overwhelming the customer with too much detail. The first training is an introduction to the business, system and technology platform called Info-Exchange. A second training focuses on functionality and how Info-Exchange can help them with uploads, customized reports, email notifications of search completions and other similar needs.
One-on-one customized training is offered at no additional cost for customers that need extra help.
An Innovation Culture
An innovation culture, of course, has as its focus on the end-user. Through a series of listening sessions and conferences with customers, new technologies are developed with user feedback. This also involves taking a consultative rather than a sales approach. The former is a process of discovery, which listens to the needs and pain points of customers, while the latter focuses on selling a product.
Menus, page layouts and processes are developed with the user in mind, with the goal of making everything as easy and efficient as possible. Some examples of this are the multitude of reports and customization options that lenders can use with the technology platform to easily develop any set of data they are looking for, whenever they want.
An incremental process management is the innovation method used to develop new products and services. This is a flexible design method that allows for interaction with users by introducing pieces of a technology one at a time in an iterative process.
This is different than a traditional method of introducing a product in its entirety when it is completed. By using the incremental method, there is a higher degree of interaction with users in creating new technology products. The user is part of the development process and suggests changes as needed in the various stages of development. If issues or problems surface, they can be remedied quickly as the process is ongoing.
A Noteworthy Trend
One noteworthy trend affecting technology development is that there are fewer financial institutions today. In the 1970s, there were more than 20,000 credit unions and a similar number of banks. Today that number has dwindled to about 6,000 for both banks and credit unions. During the next decade that number is predicted to drop even further.
This becomes a tough environment to succeed, especially for the smaller financial institutions. One way of meeting this challenge is to seek out innovative partners that can provide economies of scale and cost savings that benefit operations. Innovative technology then becomes a competitive edge as the financial services industry continues to adapt to change and operational costs continue to skyrocket.
As in the innovation process, consumers should be considered partners. Serving a consumer is not just delivering a contracted service; it also includes understanding their problems and presenting solutions. If you deliver services and technology that meet—and exceed—the consumer’s needs, they will trust you and consider you for additional services over time with an opportunity to gain a lifetime customer.
Technology that is easy to use and intuitive is the cornerstone of excellent customer service and it is becoming necessary in the highly competitive financial services industry. Listening to and partnering with your end users while developing new products and services is a way to make this happen.
For additional details on the subjects discussed here, Info-Pro Lender Services has published two white papers, both of which are available in CUToday.info’s The Vault here.