Steps to Take Now to Identify the Best Tech Investments This Year

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By Ben Rempe

More than ever, the message is loud and clear to traditional financial institutions – a dollar invested in delivering top-notch service through technology is not a dollar wasted. We’d argue it’s actually a dollar more valuable than the rest, with the ability to yield multifold returns by the year’s end. 

Yet, the path to tech-exceptionalism can feel overwhelming. The good news is, you don’t need all the answers or an oversized budget to get started. In fact, knowing that you don’t have all the answers is likely the very best way to get started.

So then, where exactly do you start?

The road to success is paved with many steps. Here are several key ones that will get you headed straight toward a Q4 2021 pot of gold.

Look at where you’re diverging from the top performers.

There are plenty of tools out there to show you how you’re faring against the competition. (Here is one for banks and one for credit unions.) Where are you falling behind?

Pick one lagging area to improve.

Identify one place where injecting technology can help close the gap with your key competitors. Do you want to streamline internal processes, increase efficiency or enhance a customer-facing tool? (Bonus: you’ll soon discover how improvements in this one area synergistically impact others.)

Working with the data you gathered in the previous step, bring your internal team to the table with greater freedom to be creative and innovative and see what happens. This is a simple but powerful exercise.

Commit to an open mind.

Sounds easy enough, but this step might actually be the most difficult. It requires a degree of vulnerability to rethink your approaches and be open to the idea that they may no longer serve you well.

Bring together a diverse set of internal team members.

Gather around the table (or Zoom meeting) a mix of employees with different lenses on the issue. Give them problem-solving license to be creative and innovative and see what happens. This is a simple but powerful exercise.

Identify best practices.

You don’t need to come up with some major disruptive solution to effectively compete today. To start, just ensure you’re at least offering what your competitors are, and then make your best effort to do it well.

After you’ve leveled the playing field with your stronger peers, consider looking for inspiration outside of the financial industry too. With such an emphasis on digital service delivery and convenience today, you are bound to find some great customer experience takeaways that could translate to your institution. 

Talk to your customers and members.

Social distancing is now the norm, but even when more people filled the lobby, how many of your interactions were really meaningful? By that I mean gathering real feedback about what you could be doing better or what would make a real difference in their lives. So now, think about picking up the phone or sending a personal email. 

You might be surprised at which “small” things might make a big difference. For example, the ability to start a loan online. An application that pre-fills pertinent data. Being able to electronically sign documents. Amidst a hectic life, these conveniences shape the way your customers and members feel about you – and whether they’ll stay with you further down the road. 

Following this mini-road map will identify the right intersection of creativity, practicality and customer need for your 2021 technology game plan. After just a few simple but key steps, you’ll be off and running in the right direction.

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