Credit Unions must innovate and evolve service delivery to survive in the new normal

Chaguanas, Trinidad – November 13, 2020: The Central Finance Facility (CFF) hosted its first ever virtual workshop on November 6, 2020 entitled ‘Leveraging Technology for Competitive Advantage in the New Normal’. Over thirty (30) attendees from twelve (12) local credit unions participated in this event which was held via Zoom from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. The workshop was aimed at examining the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the digital transformation necessary for credit unions to thrive in the new normal.

This intensive one-day program sought to ensure that, members are aware of the new trends and technological innovations that are available and are able to make better business decisions particularly as they relate to member service and delivery and the required technology. The facilitators comprised of international, regional and local marketing and technology experts. US-based Erin Coleman, Senior Director of Advisory Services at the Filene Research Institute presented on the topic “Credit Unions and the Coronavirus: A critical look at the impacts and implications of COVID-19 on Credit Union technology”. Local presenter, Dearl Bain, Lecturer, Information Security at Arthur Lok Jack GSB provided valuable insight on the topic “Using Technology to Facilitate More Self-Service Delivery Among Credit Unions: Understanding how core financial products are being reinvented for self-service delivery”. From Jamaica, Duane McIntosh, Lecturer in Marketing, Consumer Behaviour, Social & Health Psychology at UWI Mona Campus gave an in depth analysis on credit unions “Responding to Consumer’s Needs in the Current Environment: Decision making based on market research; studying consumer use of and trust in novel financial technologies”. The final presenter was Sweden-based Trinidadian Kristofer Granger, a Consultant and Lecturer at the Arthur Lok Jack GSB who focused on “Leveraging Marketing Tools to Maintain Member Relationships: Identifying and understanding the specific pathways to gain and retain member support and loyalty”. The CFF wishes to advise the movement that it will facilitate the implementation and rollout of the many new strategies discussed and presented.

During the first session which was facilitated by Ms. Coleman, participants gained insight on credit unions of the 21st century and the impacts and implications of the COVID-19 crisis on credit unions. The session delved into two (2) research reports published by Filene Institute on the onset of the pandemic. She highlighted the socio-economic trends shaping the future of credit unions such as rising economic volatility, inequality in income, wealth and access, credit unions growth and consolidation and the precarious future of work—the rise of the temporary workforce/ ’gig’ economy. Ms. Coleman also emphasised the significance of credit unions altering their mode of service delivery in the ‘new normal’, which includes voice and video as a bridge for communicating since members enjoy the comfort of having personal contact.

Kristofer Granger wrapped up the day’s proceedings with a captivating session which examined how credit unions can use knowledge acquired through data to nurture greater intimate relationships with their members. He advised credit unions to provide ‘pain relievers and gain creators’ through understanding what members’ pains and needs are—noting that this has become more essential during a pandemic. Mr. Granger identified a number of tools and strategies that can contribute towards better credit union-member relations including communication, value creation and exchange, empathy, trust and value creation. He also highlighted the digital tools which credit unions should incorporate in their digital marketing strategy—search engine optimisation, scheduling, content curation, mailer, community management tools for advertising and engagement which can assist in determining what would cause a potential customer to convert or not.

The other equally engaging workshops sessions facilitated by Mr. Dearl Bain and Mr. Duane Mcintosh, respectively assessed technology services impacting credit unions and the conversion aspects of marketing including strategies, consumer needs and responses with a focus on neuromarketing. Participant feedback was extremely positive with many remarking on how timely and relevant the workshop was. The Central Finance Facility (CFF) is determined to ensure that the credit union movement is equipped with the requisite tools for transformation, growth and success in this ‘new normal’, by facilitating workshops and other engaging forums. As stated by Mr. Bain, the CFF wishes to reiterate that the implementation of technology must be relevant to the credit union environment and beneficial to all stakeholders as this can influence member confidence and affect market share.