Tales from NACUSO: Finding Tech Solutions That Work for Members and Staff

As a credit union, your mission is to transform lives by creating trust and a solid financial foundation for growth. Members look to you for guidance to simplify and enhance their financial lives. However, you often find yourself grappling with tech solutions that, instead of easing your workload, lead to hours spent on the phone seeking solutions and widespread frustration.

VisiFi was thrilled to connect with CU leaders on a panel at NACUSO, and discuss the challenges of working with technology that doesn’t always align with the ideal of personalized connections inherent in CUs. How do you remain member-centric when your technology is designed to homogenize the experience?

This frustration is rampant among CU leaders at the moment–the essence of a credit union is deeply intertwined with a personalized care experience. Each member wants to have a ‘Cheers’ interaction–where everybody knows your name. But as CU memberships age and you try to modernize to attract younger members and grow, the tech solutions you’ve adopted don’t always work as intended. And when a staff member is spending more time on the helpline than with the member at their desk, the relationship suffers.

By and large, the CU leaders aren’t looking for quick fixes or tricks to get to the front of the service line. Instead, many leaders suggested changing the bedrock of partnerships to reflect a more relationship-centric model.

Four Solutions For Finding the Right Tech Partnerships

Long contracts were one of the common pain points–when a CU finds that a tech provider is misaligned with their workflows or member priorities, it’s often after months of board approvals and years before the end of a now-detrimental service contract. The panel came up with four potential solutions.

  1. Outcome-based relationships: Rather than being locked into a rigid contract, credit unions can adopt a trial-run approach and establish clear metrics for success. This way, they can confidently navigate the waters, knowing an exit strategy exists if the relationship veers off course.
  2. Performance-Based Pricing: There’s nothing worse than paying for a product that fails to produce. Executives expressed a need for a fee structure that rewards growth and performance rather than just the number of members it covers. This fee structure would incentivize better performance and provide exit ramps in the event of poor performance.
  3. Collective bargaining: Credit unions can leverage their collective wisdom to tackle industry challenges head-on. This includes shared resources, strategic partnerships, or collaborative initiatives. If one CU finds a solution that works, their shared experience can help others. High tides raise all ships.
  4. Transparency and Communication: Your tech partnership should mirror your member partnerships–there should be transparency and clear expectations at every step. From annual roadmaps to dedicated support during implementation, clear communication forms the bedrock of enduring relationships.

Small credit unions often lack the budget to attend conferences that facilitate connectivity with other credit unions. There’s a pressing need for a virtual platform where small credit unions can connect, share insights, and collaborate, regardless of geographical limitations. Finding innovative solutions and sharing those wins can help small credit unions that might otherwise be bound by third-party contracts that limit their flexibility and autonomy.

Empowering small credit unions requires a team effort from all stakeholders. Many executives are already overwhelmed with the day-to-day operational challenges, leaving little time to focus on long-term vision and growth strategies. Their tech partners should create more oxygen in their schedule, not less. By leaning into innovative solutions, virtual platforms, and collaborative approaches, credit unions can stop treading water and move toward the next version of financial relationship-building.

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Jami Jennings

VP, Digital Product Management & Member Experience