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The architecture of transformation: Transforming the member experience

The architecture of transformation: Transforming the member experience

8 Minute Read

Is your credit union future proof? In this section of Is your Credit Union Prepared for the Future? Part 2: The architecture of transformation, we will examine the areas of the member experience that your credit union needs to transform during its journey toward the future, including:

  • Aligning channel strategies
    • Branch strategy
    • Contact centre strategy
    • Digital strategy
  • Focusing on the member journey
    • Understanding the member and their life journey
    • Prioritize maximum impact

We will explore each of these areas in detail below to help your credit union seize new opportunities, overcome obstacles, and secure its position in the future.

Partner, National Credit Union Leader
Leader, Consulting – Organizational Renewal
Partner - Financial Services Institutions Leader

Transformation begins with the acceptance that change is necessary. Customer needs are rapidly changing as the business landscape continues to evolve — and their expectations for how and when they engage with their financial institutions is also changing.

It is essential for your credit union to look beyond the traditional member experience as part of its strategy to remain competitive in today’s landscape. Transforming the member experience will require your credit union to adopt a member-centric omnichannel approach. This approach must be supported by a multi-prong strategy to deliver a seamless experience to your members across all channels where they engage with your credit union.

To successfully transform the member experience, your credit union first needs to understand the member journey and the key life events that matter most to them. This can help reveal where your credit union can support its members in key moments that impact them today and in the future.

Aligning channel strategies

Your members interact with your credit union through a variety of different touchpoints, including your branches, contact centre, or digital channels. Their interactions through each of these channels plays a key role in shaping the member experience — and it is essential to refine your strategies for these first points of contact during your transformation journey.

Reducing pain points, integrating new technology, and enhancing member connections can help transform the future member experience and ensure your credit union remains responsive to the needs of its members.

Branch strategy

Transforming your credit union’s branch strategy involves assessing, optimizing, and managing its network of physical branches to better serve your members and enhance operational efficiency. It is essential for your credit union to adapt its branch strategy as the financial services industry continues to evolve to meet changing member needs, address market dynamics, and integrate new technology platforms.

The first step of transforming your credit union’s branch strategy is to assess your current branch network. Consider factors such as location, size, staff, technology, and the demographic reach of each branch. One of the most significant competitive differentiators for your credit union is its community and member connection. It is essential to keep member needs at the forefront of your mind as you transform your branch strategy to retain this competitive advantage and ensure your credit union continues to thrive in the future.

Identify opportunities to tailor your credit union’s branch services to meet the specific needs of your members. You may get started by exploring advice-based interactions as opposed to transaction-based interactions, increasing your in-branch self-service platforms, and elevating the overall branch visit experience to fully meet the needs of your members.

It is important to remember that in-person interactions are both anticipated and earnestly sought — particularly in relation to substantial financial transactions that often correspond with significant life events or business milestones.

These transactions may include mortgage acquisition, negotiations for personal and commercial loans, wealth management consultations, or life insurance portfolio decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to equip your branch staff with the knowledge and tools they need to provide sound financial advice, in addition to appropriately handling transactions.

“Enhancing the member experience is an important goal for us, and that’s why we’ve adopted the tagline ‘where you need us to be,’” says Rich Harries, Chief Operating Officer of Access Credit Union. “We’ve been through several mergers in recent years, and this creates a challenge with the immense amount of change management we are experiencing.”

“We support our managers with training and provide additional training on sales and service to employees to ensure consistency. This helps them provide effective services to our members with a focus on reducing friction and supporting ease of use to enhance their overall experience with our credit union.”

It is important to focus on refining the in-branch experience of your members when transforming your branch strategy. In today’s landscape, this usually starts with ensuring a seamless transition between in-branch and digital channels.

Integrate technology seamlessly into the branch experience to ensure that your members can start a transaction online and complete it in branch, or vice-versa, without encountering obstacles. Additionally, explore providing self-service kiosks for routine transactions or offering online appointment booking for consultations. Be mindful to ensure that your online and mobile banking platforms are consistent with the in-branch experience to enhance your members’ interactions with your credit union.

Furthermore, credit unions can leverage member data to personalize the in-branch experience. This includes greeting members by name and offering tailored product recommendations based on member profiles and key preferences. A well-considered branch strategy that is intrinsically linked to the community in which you operate can play a key role in the success of your credit union’s transformation journey by giving it a competitive advantage against others in the financial services industry.

Contact centre strategy

Effectively transforming your contact centre strategy involves integrating multiple communication channels to provide members with a variety of options for contacting your credit union. It involves the use of technology, skilled staff, and well-defined processes to ensure seamless communication and problem resolution for members. Additionally, members should be able to choose the channel that best suits their needs — such as a phone call, email, or live chat.

It is essential to explore opportunities to use advanced technology, including customer relationship management (CRM) systems, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, and call analytics tools to ensure your credit union manages member interactions efficiently. In a contact centre, calls and inquiries should be routed to the most appropriate agent based on their expertise and the nature of the inquiry. This will help ensure that your members connect with agents who are best suited to address their specific needs.

Your credit union may not be able to leverage a full contact centre model strategy due to limited resources, availability, hours, and scale. Many credit unions provide limited contact centre services that are frequently routed back to branch staff. This is where technology can help enhance your contact centre strategy.

AI-powered chatbots can handle routine member inquiries and perform tasks such as balance inquiries or transaction history retrieval — freeing up agents to address more complex issues. A well-managed contact centre can handle a high volume of inquiries efficiently, reducing the need for additional staff and operational costs. This enables you to allocate more resources toward achieving your strategic goals and securing your credit union’s position in the future.

Digital strategy

It is important for your credit union to recognize the importance of embracing new channels for interacting with members during its transformation journey. These channels, often driven by digital technology, offer fresh opportunities to engage with members, improve service delivery, and remain competitive in the financial industry.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, credit unions and members were forced to rapidly adopt mobile and online banking. Further embracing channels that expand beyond traditional in-person interactions can help your credit union retain existing members and attract younger members.


This may include exploring new digital communication methods such as mobile apps, social media, chatbots, virtual assistants, and more. Your credit union can also showcase its values of community, impact, and benefits clearly by establishing a presence on popular social media platforms. These platforms will enable you to engage with members, provide updates, and address inquiries or concerns. Additionally, your credit union may consider building online member communities or forums to facilitate peer-to-peer interactions, where members can share financial insights and seek advice.

Embracing digital channels offer convenience and accessibility, allowing members to interact with your credit union at their preferred time and place — and keeps your credit union competitive with other financial institutions. Efficient digital channels can help your credit union reduce the operational costs associated with in-person interactions. By leveraging these channels effectively, your credit union can transform the member experience by creating a seamless and engaging member journey that fosters loyalty and growth.

Focusing on the member journey

Your credit union supports its members throughout critical stages of their life, such as purchasing their first home or opening a savings account for their children’s university fund. Providing effective services to your members in these important moments can help your credit union enhance the member experience, increase retention, and attract new members in the future.

Journey mapping plays an important role in helping you to identify these critical moments in the member experience and consider areas for improvement. Additionally, prioritizing transformation within the areas that will have the most impact on the member experience can help your credit union allocate its resources efficiently, reduce costs, and support its future success. 

Understanding the member and their life journey

Customer experience strategists use human-centred, design thinking techniques such as user research, persona analysis, empathy mapping, journey mapping, and service blueprints. These techniques enable strategists to understand a customer’s interactions and experiences with an organization across various touchpoints and over time.

Credit unions can use these strategic tools to understand the member perspective, identify the moments that matter most to them, and successfully transform the member experience. The journey mapping process can help your credit union identify key life moments — which are critical touchpoints in a member’s credit union journey.

These are the moments that matter most to your members and where they need the expertise and services your credit union provides. This may include life events such as opening a savings account for their child or purchasing their first home.

It is essential for your credit union to identify these key moments and prioritize its products and services around supporting member needs during these important periods in their lives.

The process of identifying these key moments begins with understanding who your members are — by building proto-personas that speak to who they are, why they engage with your credit union, and what motivates them the most. These insights will allow your credit union to empathize with its member base and explore their needs and expectations.

Engage with customers to hear directly from them, validate your understanding, and gain deeper insights into their motivations and buying behaviours. Additionally, look beyond business data such as demographic profiles, spending patterns, and channel metrics to better understand the needs of your members.

Your credit union can use journey maps and service blueprints to visually represent a member’s journey and understand their various phases of decision-making and buying experience. Additionally, these tools can help you understand how their interactions with your credit union’s team members, website, advertising, and other information services influence their decisions and behaviours.

Journey maps can help your credit union transform the member experience by helping it to identify where it may need to enhance service delivery, increase communication through campaigns, and define metrics to measure success. Your credit union can use journey maps as a blueprint for channel strategies, marketing automation techniques, and to establish member data profiles, conversion points, and key performance measures. Additionally, these frameworks can help your credit union identify pain points and opportunities to enhance its products and services, improve operations, and increase revenue.

Journey mapping puts the member at the centre of your credit union’s strategy and helps to create experiences that align with member needs and preferences. Additionally, your credit union can enhance its operational efficiency and reduce costs by streamlining processes and improving the member experience. Credit unions that provide exceptional member experiences are more likely to retain existing members and attract new ones. This helps to give your credit union a competitive advantage and positions it to thrive in the future financial services landscape.

Prioritize maximum impact

Journey mapping is a valuable tool to help your credit union better understand, improve, and optimize the member experience. Your credit union can build stronger relationships, enhance member satisfaction, and drive growth by focusing on the perspective of your members and continuously refining their journey. But what improvements can you make to drive maximum impact?

Your credit union needs to identify and focus on the most critical projects or activities that have the potential to generate significant benefits and outcomes for both your credit union and its members. This involves allocating resources, time, and effort toward initiatives that align with your strategic goals and offer the highest return on investment.

Several factors may influence how your credit union prioritizes the drive for change. Your credit unions should allocate resources strategically based on priority and expected impact, balancing budget constraints and organizational capacity to help overcome limited resources.

Additionally, your credit union may consider exploring a data-driven decision-making approach, using data and analytics to assess the potential impact of various initiatives and inform the prioritization process. Member feedback can further support this approach to help identify areas where initiatives can have the most significant positive impact on member experiences.

This strategic approach enables your credit union to make the most of its resources, enhance member satisfaction, and achieve long-term success by focusing on the initiatives that matter most. It requires a systematic evaluation process and ongoing monitoring to ensure that resources are directed toward projects that align with your strategic objectives and deliver meaningful outcomes. This helps your credit union adapt to the evolving preferences of its members and continue to grow in the future.

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