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Report #544 |

High-Tech and High-Touch: Relationship Banking in a Digital World

By prioritizing their strength in building member relationships, credit unions can differentiate from competitors in the digital financial services market while strengthening their commitment to the credit union value proposition.

  • Steve Gotz Partner at Silicon Foundry
  • Janina Lieser Partner at Silicon Foundry Financial Services

Executive Summary

There’s no doubt that the shift to mobile-first banking makes it easier and faster for consumers and financial institutions to transact. But for all its efficiencies, online banking still proves impersonal. As consumers conduct more transactions online, they rarely visit their neighborhood credit union branches and are less likely to build relationships with them. Community banks and credit unions face pressures to pursue new revenue opportunities to compensate for decreasing net interest margins—but they are also challenged to invest in innovation and technology.

What is this research about?

In 2015, community banks from around the world, including Umpqua Bank, Nationwide Building Society, Credit Union of Australia, and de Volksbank, worked with experts Steve Gotz and Janina Lieser to explore new ways to stay relevant to their customers. Together they developed an engagement platform that enabled financial service providers to differentiate their customer service through digital channels and authentically connect with their communities.

Through interviews, observations, prototype testing, and experiments, Steve Gotz and Janina Lieser learned what customers were truly looking for in a bank.

What are the credit union implications?

Credit unions that wish to maintain a high level of member engagement need to evaluate how their business models enhance or detract from exceptional member experience. Providing superior human digital engagement offers a powerful way to differentiate from the large banks, fintechs, and challenger banks that focus investments in AI rather than customer service.

Filene thanks its members and Inner Circle sponsors for helping support this research from the Center for Emerging Technology.

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