Every day, we hear how bad the economy is and we are just waiting for it to pick up so that we can return to business as usual. We hope for things to get "normal" soon. But what if the economy we are in is the new normal?
Many say the time is ripe for credit unions to capitalize on the positive press the industry has received on a national level, although it often seems the opposite happens. Instead of expanding, growing and working to obtain more market share, many are staying put or even contracting, wanting to ride out the financial storm. Taking a wait and see approach for things to get better, for things to return to normal, seems to be the standard approach right now.
It is human nature to hold tight to what we have and know as normal when times are tough. It makes us feel safe and secure. However, what if we challenge conventional wisdom, let go and move into the unknown areas that make us feel uncomfortable? What if we used these tough economic times to breed innovation and embrace change? If we fail to change, to option to evolve and grow will surely parish.
Like all industries, financial service providers are on a crash course with commoditization. For your credit union to succeed, you can no longer compete on "great rates" and "member service" as this is what other financial service providers are competing on as well. Take a look at your products and services; ask yourself what really makes you any different than the financial provider down the street or even online.
To compete today and in the future, your main point of differentiation will be the experience you provide. Starbucks has succeeded by taking a commodity, coffee beans, and capitalizing on an experience. At Starbucks you no longer get a simple cup of hot coffee, but instead, enjoy a multi-sensory experience of sight, sound, smell, touch, emotion and customization.
Credit unions can work to have the same success by focusing on the experience that is provided to members through multiple touch points, both physical and virtual. Instead of fighting and competing in competitive, commoditized red oceans, credit unions can create blue oceans that have never existed. Don't try to be everything to everyone, instead, focus and capitalize on a niche that makes you different and become a market leader.
Wake up, smell the coffee and take these challenging times as an opportunity to spur innovation. The goal is to truly embrace change and grow. We cannot wait for things to return to normal or as they were before as that day may never come.
This blog was written by James Robert Lay, grower of relationships at PTP New Media.