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Facility Solutions: Emotional Experiences

June 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 6
by Paul Seibert, CMC

Technology may bring members in—and serve them, but branches continue to be key to making a truly personal connection.

June 17, 2014

Credit Union Management magazine’s Web-only “Facility Solutions” column runs the third Tuesday of the month.

people in a colorful representation of a networkWhile many member interactions will continue to migrate toward remote delivery, credit unions can’t lose sight of the fact that sometimes members want—and even need—to interact with another human being in a branch location.

Let’s look at some data and examples that suggest that offering human contact in a credit union branch—as well as technology service delivery—must be part of credit unions’ progression forward.

The McKinsey & Company study, “The Future of U.S. Banking Distribution,”   found that 65 percent of consumers engaged with their financial institution through multiple channels rather than migrating completely to technology. According to this study, consumers who use remote banking more than once a week are 60 percent more likely to visit a branch than those who do not. The research also found that 25 percent of the calls to phone centers could be handled by other means, while 75 percent required a human conversation.

In the book titled The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn About Ourselves From our Machines, Stanford University professor Cliff Nass reports that people work better with computers nominally assigned to their own "team" than with computers assigned to a rival team. He also asserts that people will "protect" a computer's feelings, feel flattered by a brown-nosing piece of software, and even do favors for technology that has been "nice" to them. All without even realizing it.

The movie HER underscores the idea that getting too emotionally involved with your computer has its limits. In HER, Theodore falls in love with the operating system on his phone, Samantha. Things don’t work out well, when Theodore finds out that Samantha is also “girlfriend” to thousands of other phone users at the same time.

It’s pretty clear that people are having “relationships” with technology, but there are also times when connection with a real human is most desirable—even in the financial services world.

Indeed, now that most members understand they can complete transactions and gain information online, we know the majority are coming to a branch or calling the phone center to connect with a person. Even if members visit a branch and use the personal teller machine, they are likely there because they have a psychological need to interact with people for trust, security, connection and peace of mind.

The branch remains the best place to create and maintain a personal relationship with members. It can trump the technology money card of big banks in terms of individual and community connection. If well engineered, the experience of interacting with another human in a branch location will carry through the subconscious when members engage with the credit union on their phone, tablet or PC.

Paul Seibert, CMC, is VP/financial design at CUES Supplier member EHS Design, Seattle.

Photo credit: dollarphotoclub.com/viper

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