The Drive-Thru: Great for Fries, but not Refis


Originally published 3.19.21 in CU Times

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technology and engagement. According to Mckinsey & Co, a leading consulting firm, by seven years on average. For credit unions, this acceleration was experienced as a dramatic shift from in-person engagement to phone, drive-thru, and mobile.

While there has been an increase in online channel engagement, friction still exists for the member in the phone and drive-thru channels. The most common reason friction exists occurred when the credit union migrated from in-person to drive-thru without a complete picture of the transition. Specifically, the lack of data is available to understand the branch transactions and the time and resources to migrate as smoothly as possible.

While many would like to believe that the world will return to the way it was before the pandemic, the data suggests otherwise. The same McKinsey report, which surveyed nearly 1,000- c-suite executives representing a full range of regions and industries, found that 62 % of responders felt that customers who have changed behavior would keep to their new behavior and not revert back.

What can credit unions do to help reduce this friction and improve the member experience? Here are a few steps a credit union can deploy right away.

Step #1: See what the data tells you

The call center, drive-thru, and branch data (from 2019) are chock full of insights. Let's review a few. Wait times, transaction types, days of the week, and hours of the day. Looking at these three human contact channels, identify the most frequent transactions in these delivery channels. Are they patterns to time of the day? Or days of the week? A typical insight is an increase in balance verification after a form of direct deposit (such as a stimulus payment or paycheck) has occurred. Another common insight is the number of payments and check deposits that occur in the drive-thru and the branch.

With both of these insights, there is a self-service option available. The action item here is to create a campaign to change member behavior. This behavior change will involve education by both the member and the staff as well as incentives. Please note that this will not get 100% of members to change their habits, but it will change some. This has many ramifications for the credit union. The credit union will help members increase their satisfaction due to the 7/24 availability of the online channel and build trust in the online channel itself. Ecommerce will make up 22% of global retail sales by 2023. This is an increase of nearly 10% from the 14% of global retail sales in 2019.

Step #2: Where to start - Create and prioritize use cases

From the insights gathered in the previous step, brainstorm a list of actions that the credit union can take to lessen the friction and increase value. These are your data use cases, the business problems your credit union is looking to solve. As you look at that list, sort it into two considerations, 1. what will have the most positive impact on the member, and 2. what is feasible for your credit union to accomplish in less than 90 days with existing resources.

Step#3. Identify the team and the timeframe

Once the use case/ member problem has been identified, the next step is to identify the team and time frame/ roadmap needed to solve this problem. As most credit union talent resources are already stretched thin, it is best to assemble a cross-functional team that can collaborate with consensus on the solution. This team will also dictate the time boxes needed to accomplish the solution and test and launch it to the member. Remember, the goal is to achieve these quickly in 90 days or less. Once the first use case has been solved, return the list and start the process repeatedly. Yes, this is creating a virtuous cycle of member friction reduction.

This is a new world with new experiences, expectations, and opportunities. Developing capabilities to allow the credit union to leverage data to help improve member's lives is a game-changer.

Where can I fill my data knowledge gaps?


With a stop at the

Data Education Center.



We believe that data transformation doesn't have to feel overwhelming or expensive to be impactful. After helping over 600 credit union leaders launch their data journeys, we have identified several consistent knowledge gaps. We have worked hard to fill these gaps with a variety of educational artifacts:

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