Drive Profit and Improve Engagement at the Branch
in League Initiatives

Back in March, we hosted an intensive, one-day workshop on Branch Transformation, which was very well-received. The topic almost seems timeless.  Despite the focus on online transactions, we’re always looking for ways to better understand how members interact with the branch, and how key physical components need to reinforce the member journey. 

Based on the great response to that initial topic, we’ve scheduled another workshop to drill down into two specific challenges we all face – how to drive profit and improve engagement at our branches.  As you’ve probably guessed, those two objectives are critically related.

We recently caught up with Sundeep Kapur, who will be presenting at the session, to learn a bit more about the upcoming workshop.

Frankil:  We could probably spend an entire week talking about branches and their evolving role in financial services. The first workshop talked about the how – how members interact with the branch, and how the physical environment reinforces their behavior.  What will this session focus on? 

Kapur: We need to see the branch as an essential component of our brand – we stand out in the community as organizations dedicated to driving financial wellness for our members. Members visit the branch for three primary transactions – they have a deposit/withdrawal, they want to resolve a problem, or they are looking for advice (loans/financial planning/wealth management/other related solutions). Our first workshop outlined journeys around these three key behaviors – now we turn our focus to the tactical, on how credit union executives can map actual member journeys and techniques for shifting member behavior across channels.

Frankil: I know we touched on this briefly at the first session, but what is journey mapping?

Kapur: Simply stated it is how any member transaction should/could flow. Ideally, the journey should be mapped from the members’ perspective. Too many times, journeys are mapped on our stated objectives without looking at the journey from the members’ perspective. Our workshop will focus on how to identify key member needs and blend the journey to map the needs. The focus will be experiential, based on journey mapping conducted at over 100 institutions. Perhaps even more important, we’re bringing lessons drawn from consumer behavior across industries, not just financial services. There are plenty of best practices from outside our financial services world that can and should be adapted to our business model.

Frankil: Let’s make sure we’re using terms in the same way – what does it mean to transform a branch?

Kapur: I know people often think of construction when talking about branch transformation, but I can assure you it doesn’t even require a hammer or a nail. To make improvements – bring people in for advisory services, reduce the cost per transaction, increase the number of products per member – we want to create a dynamic environment where the credit union is looked upon as a place that can mentor members. Transforming the branch also means that we have the right skillsets in place, and are continuing to enhance our capabilities to serve members.

Frankil: Why is journey mapping important to branch transformation?

Kapur: You know the old saying – you can never be too close to your member. Three things to consider – start by knowing what the member wants to do, next align this with the infrastructure we have, and finally look to adjust the journey. Going through this process diligently will give us a clearer path on improvement opportunities. Do this well and you are well on your way to a successful branch transformation experience.

Frankil: If you poll credit union executives, you’d probably find an even split between those that think the branch is essential to growth, and others that are following a more digital strategy. What is the value of a branch in today’s – and tomorrow’s – member experience?

Kapur: PSECU, Ally Bank, and Simple have no branches and a completely digital presence. They can compete effectively because of their digital infrastructure and associated advertising, and national versus local focus. As multi-channel financial institutions focused on our specific constituencies, we have to leverage the branch to build up our brand, serve members with improved ROI, and provide for an effective digital environment. Long-term, we want to embrace an omni-channel approach, which is probably a topic for another day. If I were a credit union investing in the future, the branch still provides a sustainable competitive advantage. This is especially true when you understand the value of advisory services consistent with improving profitability and member engagement – then the challenge becomes changing the transactional mix to provide more advisory services.

Frankil: Is that answer the same for all credit unions, of all sizes and with all fields of membership?

Kapur: One opportunity that transcends what are normally seen as key strategic differences lies in bringing members in for a financial checkup once or twice a year, and staying in touch with them digitally for the duration. We should measure success through enhanced engagement, reduced costs, and improved revenue – a proper mix of omni-channel services. Members should also be able to continue transactions across channel – for example, starting online and completing (not restarting) in the branch, being a primary one to pay attention to. This is one of the many journeys we will be mapping during the workshop.

Frankil: If I am a CEO looking five years over the horizon, how do I assess the value of the branch in the context of my business strategy?

Kapur: Start by looking at the business strategy. If you are delivering on a portfolio of products/services – deposits, loans (small to large), wealth management – you need to consider an enhanced branch interaction strategy. Wealth management and payday loan companies – two complete ends of the spectrum - are continuing to invest in a future branch strategy. We will discuss this during our workshop as well.

Frankil: What kind of data and analytics do I need to make that assessment?

Kapur: Look at five key numbers:

  1. Branch traffic
  2. Transactional mix within the branch
  3. Last member visit to the branch
  4. Last member transactional channel
  5. Number of products per member

We have an opportunity to improve every one of the above with a focus of increasing number of products per member. The correct approach to branch transformation is to leverage this insight to make improvements.

Frankil: Does maximizing the value of the branch always require a transformation?

Kapur: You can achieve so much with simple steps. The first three case studies we are planning to share are based on recommendations that can drive change quickly and inexpensively. Transformation is a journey – we cannot stop while trying to achieve success.

 

If you want to learn how to apply these and other concepts at your credit union, join us on Wednesday, September 13th at the Renaissance Woodbridge, in Iselin, New Jersey. As always, cost is just $75 per person. Topics will include -

  • Improving Member Engagement to Drive Business
  • Branching Trends, Risks in Deposit Balances & Funding Your Expansion Strategy
  • Journey Mapping to Uncover More Branch Value

Register for the "Drive Profit and Improve Engagement at the Branch" workshop here.