Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Category: Articles (page 1 of 55)

Zero UI: What It Is and Why It Matters to Your Credit Union.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

I want you to share a piece of information. Anything. There’s only one catch: You have to do it using only your voice. You’ve just used Zero UI.

Pretty easy, right? Thank millions of years of evolution (and a unique amino acid order in a specific gene) for its silent help.

Now, imagine I placed you in front of a computer and said, “convey information to this system, receive additional information in response, then ask it to perform an action, all while using only your voice.” You’d offer me an exasperated look. Because you’ve done this before. And it’s…not fun. Voice assistants improve every day, yet they’re still a ways off from equaling a simple person-to-person exchange.

Part of that is due to the complexity of computer systems, plus the depth of information they can access, while adding the struggle of context. Asking a coworker about “the game” incorporates prior knowledge of the person, their activities, their preferences, and much more.

Harry Potter Playing Quiddich

You’re thinking it was a professional sports event. Nope. They’re really into Muggle quidditch. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Computers are getting frighteningly good at context (see constant stream of, “I know what you did last summer…and will do for the next 5 summers” demonstrations from large tech firms). Yet the user interaction still leaves much to be desired. As I write this post, I’m typing on a keyboard into a section of screen, surrounded by a lot of tappable (iPad) spots which do everything from change how the text looks to switch to another notebook (I’m in Evernote). At its core, what am I trying to do here? Convey information to you. If we were standing face-to-face, it’d be stupid easy. No “user interfaces” (UI) needed to take in my thoughts, process them, format what’s written, and so much more. I mean, really. Think about all the little steps that have to occur for me to get my thoughts to your brain. It’s not simple at all. That we manage to communicate at all is amazing (though, we seem to be struggling with it lately).

The easiest and most direct way to communicate is with voice. That’s why Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have enormous potential (I’m not the only one to say this), and are so vocally (see what I did there?) critiqued when they fail. We expect an app to crash. A browser to freeze. Yet when Siri misses one word of our dictated sentence, we’re all, “this tech is such garbage…YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW!” Because our voice is part of us, and it’s pretty reliable, until you’re in front of an important crowd, then it just shuts off like the computer giving you those low battery warnings. Barring that, our voice accomplishes its task much of the time.

Bringing Everyone To The (Tech) Table

The idea of interacting with tech using only our voice is called Zero UI. And it’s a goal of most tech firms. It’s also really hard, because computers haven’t had millions of years to learn how to do it best. We’re trying to teach them to teach themselves in less than 0.0001% of the time it took us. Imagine the potential, though. It eliminates the need to learn specific steps for any computer-assisted task. You just say it. Think of the person who struggles to find the icon for the web browser. Or looks at modern tech and recoils, dreading the learning curve. Zero UI makes them part of all improvements, and they can reap the benefits as much as a total geek like me.

Zero UI As A Guide

Veggie Burger
Not that burger. (This one’s veggie, anyway)

Think of your entire digital ecosystem. I’m certain it isn’t Zero UI, and that’s ok. The technology isn’t there yet. In the meantime, how can you reduce what a user has to do to accomplish their goal, while minimizing any learning curves? Remember, a learning curve can be as simple as knowing that the icons on the bottom of the phone screen in your app actually represent different sections. Or, that the three lines on the top left mean it’s a “hamburger menu” (which, after becoming the norm, is going away again) with more sections within?

Ask Your Grandmother!

When designing websites, phone systems, mobile platforms, and more, I’ve always deferred to the tried-and-true method: If you showed it to your grandmother, would she have a basic idea of what to do? I’m not suggesting she’ll start using Alexa to pay her bills (though, being a Zero UI solution, she probably would rather that than the app), only, did you design something simple enough to explain simply?

Alexa, help close us out.  Sing a song about paper airplanes. (Seriously, ask her!)

Paper Airplane Held in Hand

Is Selling In Your Credit Union Culture?

“We’re a service organization, not a sales culture.” I’ve heard those words from a number of credit unions. Too bad they’re wrong.

Ahh!! Put down the pitchforks and torches! Please, at least for a moment! Those credit unions were incorrect about one half of their statement. Of course they should remain a service organization. That’s what makes a credit union, well, a credit union. But no sales culture? Everything is sales.

  • What you eat for breakfast is sales,
  • If you choose to read my posts is sales,
  • Every decision is sales at its core.

What many credit unions have in mind when they hear “sales” is the aggressive “used car salesman”. You know, like this guy. (Which happens to be Kurt Russell from the 1980 film “Used Cars”.)

Kurt Russell Used Car Salesman

I’m in sales, and they’re a horrible representation of it (but he’s a great actor). I’m also professionally trained in a sales system which insists upon clarity and respect for all parties. As my sales coach used to say, “sales is a noble profession”. We don’t look at a bad driver and say, “drivers are all terrible”. Except here in Florida, where they are. Besides that, generalizations distort the truth.

Your credit union can deliver world-class service while being a sales culture. In fact, the latter supports the former! An MSR truly connecting with members learns about them. Their goals, their needs, their worries. This considerate MSR can suggest Payment Protection Insurance on a loan to someone who is worried about their family being burdened by a loan if they can’t work. Sure, they’re selling a product, and the credit union is making money (as should the MSR), but the member feels better served and more secure. They’ll remember how your credit union helped, especially if they need to take advantage of the policy.

Curious as to where to start? The Missouri CU Association shared their guidance with NCUA as a step-by-step process.

The other side of the discussion is a member who was not sold at all. They closed a loan and were “sold” nothing. Congratulations, your staff served the member by not selling them any additional services. Then, three months later, their car is totaled. Without GAP coverage, they now owe $4000 to make up the difference. Are they:

  1. Angry
  2. Disappointed
  3. Really pissed
  4. All of the above,

…with your credit union? You were serving that member, yet never told them there could be a large gap between what their car is worth and what they owe? That’s not service! Your lack of a sales culture could have changed this person, and their family’s life, for the worse.

Having a sales culture based on honesty and up-front discussions with members creates a win/win scenario. Members are happy to be offered services which may fit their needs (and can easily say no once informed). They’re thrilled when these services are used and they save money as a result. You’re a real life-saver in these cases. Through it all, your credit union makes more money, enabling you to offer more community services, lower rates, and better fulfill your mission.

Knowing what you do now, will you adopt a sales culture?

When you do, in the words of Dumbo, “Don’t just fly, soar!”

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Image credits: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20500000/Dumbo-in-Kingdom-Hearts-walt-disney-characters-20542266-786-568.jpg, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081698/

Passwords. An Update.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

It’s a topic you’ve seen here before. Time and again. Of course, it’s still pertinent since we keep using them. Passwords are a bane of the tech world. Unless you can invent a simple way to authenticate yourself with any service, they’re going to stick around for a while. That doesn’t mean we need to despise them, though. In the past, we have discussed the problems on both ends, from policies that lead to creating awful passwords, to people insisting on using “love”, “*dogname*”, and “!23456”.

Grab your favorite password and…throw it in the trash (sadly, even “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple“). Because we’re back.

Like the question of eggs being healthy or your worst nightmare, passwords see a wide variety of advice as the years go on. Some of it is due to a long period of terrible advice (which we discussed before, and, I’ll admit, my own suggestions evolved, too). Thankfully, this is changing…slowly. The other part is based upon processing speed increases; it’s easier than ever to parse billions of possibilities (using databases of common passwords from leaks combined with dictionary analysis). So what’s the current solution?

It’s lurking in plain sight, on all your devices. The best password is one you never create. Every modern platform supports strong password suggestions. Then, they save these passwords in a secured database, so you don’t have to put a note in your drawer (it’s ok, you’re not alone). Depending on the system, there might be a master password, or, it can combine with biometrics. Make this be your big, strong password, then never use it. Rely on the fingerprint scanner, FaceID, or other verification system.

On iOS (that’s iPhone and iPad), the next version will have automatic strong (Apple calls them complex) password creation and storing. That means, when a site asks to create a password, your phone already filled in a really good one. Then it saves it so you never even bother thinking of something. To log back in, your phone just asks for verification through TouchID or FaceID (depending on device). This is new; auto-fill now has security, too. Yes, you still have to create a unique username. Sorry, MarioKartKing is taken.

There’s another side of this revisit: Updating your password. I know, I know, I spoke strongly against this practice in the past. My position is unchanged. If you change your password, make it for a good reason. A brilliant website called haveIbeenpwned.com checks your e-mail address or usernames to see if they were included in any breaches. If so, it shows which and to what degree. Then, you know it’s time to update those passwords (and anywhere else you shared those credentials). That password auto-suggest is looking mighty nice right now.

Here’s the bottom line: With password managers so prevalent and easy to use, there’s no excuse to still create your own passwords. It’s putting you (and the data within) at unnecessary risk. It also saves time. When I read of a breach on a service I use, I just go in, update that password, and get back to my life. Since it won’t be shared with any other system, I don’t care what someone does with the information. Granted, if passwords were stored in a way someone could access them, I’d be questioning the utility of said service, given their poor security practices.

Bottom line of the bottom line: Complex, random strings of characters, stored in a quality password manager, is the best way to ensure your personal (or corporate) information remains only in the hands you want.

Resources (A non-exhaustive list of password managers)

OS Based:

  • SmartLock for Passwords (Android/Chrome)
  • iCloud Keychain (Apple devices)

3rd Party:

  • Firefox Sync
  • LastPass
  • 1Password
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