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As an executive, it can be easy to get stuck at 30,000 feet, far from your products and their actual use. But that shouldn’t be the case. The best way for you and your team to test-drive financial products is to look at your member’s journey step by step.

I believe it’s important to steer your organization by keeping your feet on the ground and regularly taking the pulse of your members. One part of this strategy: Put yourself in your members’ shoes and map out their journey. While you may not be in a position where you can ethically apply for a loan through your own credit union, you can gather a cross-functional team to walk you through each step of the member journey to find any gaps.

Mapping a product application process is a great exercise to identify communication gaps, troubleshoot technology, and develop a better understanding of the process from your member’s point of view.

Why you need to map your member’s journey

Your organization is actively building relationships, inside and out, every day. To foster great relationships with your members, and ensure that they’re engaged in your ecosystem of products and services, you need to have a top-down view of their journey within your credit union. This step just can’t be skipped if you’re looking to maximize the value of each interaction and transaction.

When you first map your member’s journey, you’ll likely find gaps in communication between your credit union and your members, as well as between departments within your organization. In my experience, this is where you’ll find the most helpful insights into where your organization has room to improve communications and drive success.

Eighty-five percent of financial brands that use journey mapping report a positive impact on their customer or member experience, and the numbers only get better from there: 40% experienced reduced churn and 48% reported fewer complaints. And this matters: A 5% increase in customer or member retention can produce an increase of 25% in profits.

How to set out on the journey mapping process

If no one on your team is an expert in journey mapping, you may want to bring in an outside consultant. In either case, your first step internally will be to put together a cross-functional team that spans every department. From marketing to engineering, it’s crucial that you have a variety of perspectives as you undertake this process. Don’t overlook the insights hidden with your customer service representatives – they are the ones who most frequently interact with members and are closest to the customer experience.

As a group, you’ll want to take on the role of a customer and look at your products, services and marketing collateral from their point of view. Go through a mocked-up process of applying for a loan through your own organization to find out what your experience is like and you’ll identify ways to improve these interactions that you’d never think of from behind your own desk.

The process of creating a journey map is fairly straightforward (although you’ll likely want to have a mess of markers and Post-it notes on hand):

  • Before you begin, set clear objectives for this exercise. Have a question to create focus around your first dive into the member journey.
  • Develop defined personas to narrow down whose shoes you’re wearing. What are each of these individuals trying to accomplish on any given channel?
  • List touchpoints.
  • Decide which elements you want to display on your map.
  • Walk through the member’s journey as a team. As you go, identify both gaps in communications and services as well as opportunities to cross-sell or offer additional resources.

From here, you’ll find you have the information need to recommend opportunities for your teams to introduce a human touch and create an action plan to make changes. You may also find that your organization is collecting data that it’s not making use of. Don’t hesitate to flag these places where you can refine your member personas or serve them even more personalized opportunities.

What to do with your new road map

The power of journey mapping is the last step in the process. Going through this exercise will give you the chance to align consumer goals with the customer journey to draw cleaner paths for your members that lead them to deeper relationships with your credit union.

In this process, you can count on discovering overlapping journeys, multiple touchpoints that may seem redundant, and plenty of room for improvement. Take this opportunity to repair and replace strategies that aren’t working, and look for places where you can use data you’re already collecting to better cater to your members’ needs.

While you should always have a road map for your organization that shows where you’d like to go, it’s equally important to take the time to draw up or revisit the map that shows how your members actually experience your products and services. Then, you’ll be primed to take your insights and turn them into supercharged action items.

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