What Can CUs Learn from VCRs? The Importance of Design

You can't just offer a service today; you have to do it well. In today's hypercompetitive market, a key strategy for success is design. How do you know if you have a design problem? Research: ask, listen, and learn.

Consider the following illustration. Management Guru Tom Peters suggested that at the height of the VCR era (remember those?), most consumers attempted and failed at programming their recorders to tape a TV show. Even the advent of "VCR-plus", which required only entering the program's code (as listed in TV Guide) into the recorder, did not solve the problem. VCR manufacturers were frustrated. They knew recording with their units wasn't difficult once you knew the code. The [expletive deleted] users just weren't doing it right!

Enter Peters. If consumers couldn't figure out how to program their VCRs, it wasn't their fault, he chided. It was the manufacturers. It was not the consumer's ignorance that was to blame, but rather the manufacturer's design. And more importantly, the manufacturer who figured that out first, and who accepted that responsibility and truly made programming intuitive — the one who improved the design — would win market share.

The same challenge exists for many credit unions. Solutions and work-arounds to many member issues may currently exist (e.g., changing one's passcode, knowledge of and sign-up for e-statements, etc.). The fact that members don't know this, and can't typically intuitively solve such issues themselves, however, suggests that responsibility may lie with the CU.

The problem? Design.

Member Research's work in this area alone has provided meaningful improvement ideas around web design, branch signage, loan process efficiencies, card replacements, when and in what forms member advice is desired, and more. In each case, better design leads to a better member experience. This in turn leads to heightened loyalty, service usage, referral likelihood and profitability.

In what ways is your CU's Member Experience designed well? (A competitive advantage!) And where does the current design fall short? Member surveys, transaction surveys, and focus groups can uncover the problems ... and suggest the answers.

Conduct the research. Ask. Listen. Learn. And redesign for success.

Neil Goldman is Senior Partner with Member Research. He can be reached at (949) 756-0206 or ngoldman@memberresearch.com.