As financial institutions strive to move away from large format retail footprints to smaller, more specialized retail spaces and online/mobile banking for customers, a significant challenge they face is helping customers adapt to these new, tech-driven banking methods. A credit union client wanted to assess the readiness of its members who visit brick and mortar branches to use digital banking services, uncover barriers to moving this group to online/mobile banking, and test new tools available through the credit union’s mobile app to help ease the transition. Rockbridge helped this client with a combination of research solutions, including our TechQual™ scale that segments consumers by their beliefs about technology, coupled with our online qualitative research tool, OpinionPond™.
Assessing Receptiveness to Technology with TechQual™
At the heart of this issue was understanding members’ “technology readiness” (TR), which refers to their propensity to adopt and embrace cutting edge technology when doing business. Extensive, peer-reviewed research has shown that consumers have differing needs and experiences based on their techno-readiness level, as measured by a set of validated survey questions. These questions, which we call TechQual™, are used to compute an overall techno-readiness score and to assign individuals to segments with different positive and negative beliefs about tech-oriented service channels. Knowing customers’ TR levels helps an organization more successfully deploy digital channels by optimizing communication, support, and products. For example, one of the segments identified through TechQual™ is Explorers, the most techno-ready group who have no emotional barriers to adopting new technologies and tend to be early adopters. This group would be enthusiastic beta testers and promoters for any new tech-driven service. In contrast, other segments referred to as Pioneers and Hesitators, need help and reassurance in overcoming their discomfort and insecurity before adopting more tech-oriented services; for a credit union or bank, the help can include messaging about privacy/security steps and ease of use, video tutorials, or branch staff dedicated to helping customers learn to use online/mobile banking tools. Some customers, Skeptics, lack emotional barriers to adoption but need to be convinced of the benefits (i.e. speed, convenience, control, flexibility) before adopting a new tool.
Gathering In-depth Insights on Digital Channels with OpinionPond™
Rockbridge helped its credit union client explore the issues around acceptance of digital channels through qualitative research on our proprietary online OpinionPond™ platform. Members were easily recruited from an ongoing CX study and asked to complete our TechQual™ questions so they could be assigned to different technology segments, thus allowing us to ensure the sample had varying levels of techno-readiness. After completing the TechQual™ questions, members were directed to OpinionPond™, a virtual qualitative research platform that utilizes a social media inspired interface so participants can comfortably interact with one another on a range of topics. By engaging members in this format, our client gained an in-depth understanding of what barriers members might face when introduced to new tech-driven tools and services. Rockbridge also tested member receptiveness to new mobile banking concepts and gathered feedback on how to communicate the new tools and provide instructions to members.
A total of 34 credit union members participated in the virtual discussion by posting their answers to questions within each topic of the OpinionPond™ and responding to others’ comments. All of the discussion topics were moderated by a skilled Rockbridge moderator, and participants were actively probed to dig deeper into their thought processes. Both the convenience of the OpinionPond™ forum being online without any restrictions of time or place, as well as the user-friendly, social media-like interface served as an important advantage. Not only were participants able to contribute their thoughts conveniently from around the country and the world, but these features also made it easy for project stakeholders to view the discussion and provide feedback throughout the data collection period.
After the OpinionPond™ discussion concluded, Rockbridge analyzed the comments and identified the unique challenges and opportunities that emerged for each techno-readiness segment. To educate our client, these key themes were integrated into the regular reporting provided for the ongoing CX survey, with relevant quotes from the discussions used to shed light on survey findings.
The rich consumer insights produced using OpinionPond™ provided a thorough understanding of members’ technology readiness, giving our client another lens through which to make strategic, operational, product development, and marketing decisions to better serve their members. Understanding the requirements of the most techno-ready members provided a roadmap for the future, while understanding the fears and frustrations of the least techno-ready members informed communications and support decisions.
 A. Parasuraman and Charles L. Colby, “An Updated and Streamlined Technology Readiness Index: TRI 2.0,” Journal of Service Research, June 22, 2014.