Walk in members’ shoes

Walk in members’ shoes

Scheuerman, Mike

Not long ago I was talking to a credit union member about his credit union’s Web site. He was complaining that although he loved the credit union, he hated its Web site because he never could find anything on it-except the stuff the credit union wanted him to find.

Not long afterward, I ran into a staff member from that credit union and mentioned my conversation with the member. The response was, “We have all that information on our intranet. All he had to do was give us a call and anyone could have given him the information.”

That’s not an uncommon scenario. Credit union staff have all the information the member ever could want at their fingertips. They never use the credit union’s Web site because they can just walk down the hall and ask someone a question to get the information they need. They don’t have a clue about member frustrations because they don’t experience that side of the credit union.

If you believe your Web site is another channel of communication and service to your members, you need to use the service. If it doesn’t work for you, how can you expect it to work for your members?


Putting yourself in the shoes of your constituent, be it a member or another department in the credit union, will give you a much better appreciation of how great (or not) the perception of that cool, whiz-bang application your credit union just installed.

Empathy for the daily user of any technology product is the hallmark of a great company. You can build something that’s absolutely the most innovative use of technology, but if it doesn’t make life a little bit easier for the intended user, it’s an abject failure.

So how do you avoid failure when commencing new technology projects?

First and foremost, involve end users every step of the way. Involve them even when it doesn’t appear to make sense to do so. This accomplishes a couple of things:

* It empowers users with a sense of ownership. They’re more likely to be true champions of the project and will push acceptance throughout the rest of the credit union.

* It removes the burden of success or failure from your shoulders and puts it squarely on the person who really wants or needs the project completed.

The second rule of thumb for project success is “a little bit is more.” Don’t try to do everything at once. Keep the project milestones and deliverables short.

A good project metric is to try and deliver something useful within 60 to 90 days. That will keep everyone interested and excited because they can see progress, and they have something to look forward to as well as something new to work with.

Think about having Christmas four times a year. Wouldn’t it be great to get presents on the 25th of every third month? They probably would be smaller presents, with the occasional big one. Wouldn’t it be fun to open them continuously all year long instead of having one big binge?

Third, manage the issues. Every project comes up against unanticipated problems to solve on the fly. Keep a list of those problems and who’s responsible for figuring out a solution. Check off the problems as you resolve them. That will ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Fourth, celebrate the successes. Each milestone or major issue resolution becomes something to look forward to rather than a “whew, dodged that bullet” event. Members of your project team will feel better about what they’ve accomplished and will work just a little harder to hit those milestones and resolve those issues.

Especially if ice cream and cake await them at the end.

Contact Mike Scheuerman at 503-207-2748 or at mscheuerman@nwcorporate.org.

MIKE SCHEUERMAN is senior vice president/chief information officer for Northwest Corporate Credit Union in Portland, Ore.

Mike Scheuerman | Northwest Corporate CU

Copyright Credit Union National Association, Inc. Dec 2003

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