Principles, Privacy, and a Seat At The Table: Three Member Engagement Strategies For The Future
By Paul Timm, Vice President, Marketing & Strategic Development | NAFCU Services
Businesses can’t escape the impacts of digital living, environmental challenges, cultural change, growing inequality, and globalization, but we can prepare for them. That was the message I got from Jana DeLancey at the recent NAFCU Strategic Growth Conference. Jana is one of my favorite researchers and speakers. She’s the Senior Vice President of Global Foresights, Insights and Analytics at Mastercard. She took the stage to share Vision 2030 - predictions and pivots that will characterize our industry and our member relationships through the start of the new decade.
Be ready to be judged on your principles.
A pithy, heartfelt mission statement buried two levels deep on a website isn’t just window-dressing anymore. Jana expects younger generations in particular to conduct deeper dives than ever before into the values of the organizations they transact with. “They're doing it: they're quitting, they're taking jobs, or not taking jobs based on values,” she said. “If your employees can’t speak to what your values are, and if your members can’t speak to them, you’re missing out on a significant amount of business that’s yours for the taking.”
And younger generations will be more likely to conduct a serious investigation, aided by artificial intelligence analysis. They will dig and absorb not only what organizations say about themselves but what news stories, influencers, pundits, and social media add to the picture. Much of this is proactive, but the rest will be presented to them based on who they are and what their digital values footprint says they might be interested in. “AI is going to sort through all of these things and help them decide: this one [shares] my values, this one does not.”
Privacy and trust remain top-of-mind.
Jana also pointed out that there are some bright sides to recent surveys that showed middling news for financial services firms. The 2021 Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Monitor survey shows banking still earns a net-negative sentiment (32% unfavorable opinion vs. 28% favorable opinion) but that rating was good enough for middle-of-the-pack in the nine-industry survey, just behind public services and the auto industry and well ahead of media and oil-and-gas. On the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, financial services have had a Neutral rating for six straight years after years of Distrust-level scores.
Her takeaway: credit unions are not starting from completely shattered footing. And there’s a meaningful shift in mindset that can build more trust when lapses in privacy or breaches in trust occur. Specifically, she recommends a more transparent and collaborative stance, rather than the impersonal, bureaucratic messaging that typically comes with bad news like security breaches, systems failures, and fraud. “It's in those moments where you take control and say, ‘I've got you. I know how horrible this is, it happened to me,’” she said. “It hurts because it's not your fault, but you still have to stand up and protect them because they're your members, and that’s the answer everyone wants to hear.”
Get ready to bring members into the board room.
One of Jana’s most emphatic points was that the consumer of today (and tomorrow) is more eager than ever not just to be heard, but to have a meaningful impact. They want to take an active hand in influencing and guiding organizations on a day-to-day basis. She recommends that credit unions leverage close member relationships already in place and “leapfrog” the financial services industry on an emerging trend. Specifically, by pioneering the practice of convening non-executive consumer boards with a direct line to the board of directors. “I’m not talking about another focus group. I’m talking about bringing the consumer in, having them be your voice out in the world. You have the ability to do it today, because you have members who care about you and who are loyal to you,” she said.
In my next post I’ll share some of what Jana had to say about the future of money (it’s not just crypto!), spending, and the metaverse.