"Digital transformation is about how you rethink your organization. Re-enable those capabilities to deliver something truly of value.”  -Baron Conway

Purpose is the most important part of digital transformation. It creates a bold driving force that energizes your teamwork and collaboration, keeping everyone enthusiastically headed in the same direction.

That’s the topic of a recent discussion hosted by James Robert Lay on the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast. He discusses purpose-driven digital transformation with Baron Conway, SVP and Head of Digital and Product Management at Nuvision Federal Credit Union

The Foundation of Successful Digital Transformation

For financial brands, digital transformation isn’t something that happens overnight. Your organization can’t accomplish 100 initiatives at once, so you have to break it down into bite-sized chunks, Baron says.

Don’t think of digital transformation as a project or an initiative. It’s a whole new way of existing. Instead of being something that has an endpoint, it’s a continuum.

During periods of massive transformation, employees of financial brands often cope with the uncertainty by asking whether this is a one-year process, a three-year process, or a five-year process.

It’s none of those!

This is a forever process. While this might be tough to accept, embracing the concept of ongoing digital transformation is the essential first step in the process.

What Spark of Inspiration is Driving Change?

Baron believes that something always drives transformation at a financial institution, but there’s not always a noticeable “Aha!” moment. The driving force behind large-scale change often comes from mundane things like research, surveys, and member engagement.

What are your customers telling you? What are they almost begging you for that you aren’t providing? At Nuvision, Baron has learned that customers are often asking companies basically, “Why can’t you be more like Amazon? Why can’t you be more like Apple?”

These are difficult questions to address and their scope is enormous. That’s probably why so many companies dismiss them and figure, “Oh well. We’ll never be like Amazon.”

It’s time to take a fresh look at what the customer means when they say they want your company to be more like Amazon. Are they asking for faster service? Better options? A more enjoyable experience?

By asking questions like these, you begin to dig down to the underlying purpose of your digital transformation. Broadly speaking, of course, it’s improving the customer experience. Your mission is to find the more specific and actionable purpose that drives the transformational voyage.

Make Your Most Painful Service Better

One way to face digital transformation head-on is to identify one of your organization’s slowest and most troublesome experiences for customers and start there. At many financial brands, this is the mortgage application and approval process.

Almost every financial institution values its mortgage sector as a key part of the business. It’s also one of the most significant financial transactions a customer ever makes. So why is it so stressful and tedious?

If you’re thinking, “Because of factors beyond our control,” just stop. That’s not entirely true. Your job is to make this process as seamless and easy as possible for your customer. Instead of throwing barrier after barrier at them, you should be using technology to break down those barriers.

At Nuvision, Baron and his team partner with FinTech solutions that transform experiences and deliver superior customer satisfaction. Financial brands don’t have to do it all themselves! Partnerships are an enormous resource in supporting digital transformation.

There are new technological solutions that guide the process along from start to finish, holding the customer’s hand along the way. There are even rich partnerships with real estate companies and title companies that ensure the customer experiences a seamless trip from start to finish.

Building Buy-in Among Team Members

A challenging aspect of transformation is building the team camaraderie and support it takes to manage an ever-changing process. It won’t work to have a “command and control” culture where someone is dictating what will happen.

Transformation requires a somewhat softer approach that involves casual conversations and building better interpersonal relationships. We have to take the fear out of embracing change and help our people feel that there is no penalty for trying something new.

As a leader of change, your best method - especially at the outset of the process - is to ask plenty of questions.

Why do we do it this way?

What led to that?

What happens if we try something new?

What do the customers say about that?

Have we considered this?

Would you be willing to try something new together?

Do small tests and add small innovations that provide early wins for your teams. Show them the benefits for the customer experience. When your employees and customers are both seeing the positive impacts, buy-in begins to build.

Expect a certain segment of people to resist and fight change. Don’t turn your back on them. Allow them to express their concerns and help them understand that their skepticism is healthy but the process will continue nonetheless. Sometimes your biggest skeptics ask excellent questions that benefit the bigger picture.

And finally, remember that it’s important to frequently go back to the why of your transformation. Why are you doing this? By constantly reminding yourself of your shared purpose for this voyage of digital transformation, you can be a positive and motivating force that keeps the wind in everyone’s sails.