Creating a Member Journey Map

Team members brainstorming ideas on a glass wall

When it comes to credit unions, we pride ourselves on delivering better service than banks and best-in-class financial products to our members. But how do we anticipate member needs and wants? How do we identify and define organizational weaknesses so that we can address them?

What credit union professionals need is a crystal ball, allowing us to peek into the minds of our members. While we don’t have that, we do have journey mapping, which may be the next best thing. Journey mapping gives us a peek into the decision-making process of our credit union members.

What is Journey Mapping?

At its core, journey mapping is the act of chronicling a visual representation of the process your member goes through as they experience your credit union’s products or services. The journey may start with how the member finds out about you, then end with the member's decision about whether to use your product or service again.

Start with Personas

Members at various life stages will interact with your credit union very differently and be looking for very different financial products. Don’t try to account for everyone all at once. Instead, build personas for your members so that you can take a walk in a member’s shoes with a journey map.

Personas are semi-fictional archetypes that help create a deep understanding of and empathy for members, and they represent the key traits of a large segment of the membership. Remember, the purpose of a journey map is to give you insight into your members' minds, so be specific when developing member personas. You may begin by concentrating on a young professional. How might this person find out about your credit union? Would this member come through paid advertising or word-of-mouth recommendation? If given the option, would this member likely prefer communication via branch, desktop or a mobile channel?

Creating Highly Effective Personas

How can you create highly effective personas? You can rely on industry data and surveys. You can interview members. You can create a journey mapping team that includes key employee stakeholders from across your credit union to help you gain diverse perspectives about your members' motivations and goals.

The perfect alchemy likely comes in the form of access to both qualitative and quantitative data. There are a number of customer experience management platforms in market, like MemberXP from CU Solutions Group, that help credit unions extract, manage and visualize important insights about personas and journeys from member feedback.

The numbers don’t lie. A research brief from the Aberdeen Group found that marketers who embraced a data-first approach to personas and customer journey mapping saw the following:

Finally, bring your personas to life by crafting engaging, first-person narratives that are realistic representations of your target members. Give each persona a name and photo to help foster a connection to your actual members. Include a variety of attributes, such as age, education, income, household or family size, etc.

Using Personas to Map the Member Journey

Once you’ve created distinct personas, you can use them to create member journey maps that describe each persona’s experience at various touchpoints during their lifecycle with your credit union. An effective journey map is based on real research and behavior and should represent the true member experience — good or bad. That way you build an accurate picture of where you need to make improvements and where opportunities exist for cross-sell and up-sell.

Much of the information for creating a journey map will come from your personas (e.g., their goals, motivations, key tasks they want to accomplish, and current pain points), which is why it’s best to create the personas first.

By now you have developed detailed member personas with faces and names, so put yourself in their shoes as you run them through fictional interactions at your credit union. Where is the interaction taking place (e.g., in your branch, on the phone, online or mobile, in social media)? What is going on around the member and in their life in general? Are they in a hurry? How do they feel at each step? Are they engaged, bored, or frustrated? Are they nervous about making an important financial decision? How might their current context influence how they need to interact and what they want to do?

Don’t forget, a good member journey map doesn’t just reveal the touchpoints of the consumer’s interaction with your credit union. It also takes into account the moments you don’t see.

With a detailed and insightful member journey map, your credit union can more effectively assess current and proposed processes, identify targeted actions to resolve pain points and leverage opportunities for building stronger member relationships.

Steps to Improving the Member Journey

Remember, the point of mapping the member journey is to help influence the journey and make it better. As you begin to run personas through your member journey map, themes will arise. You will begin to recognize areas of weakness as well as organizational strengths.

Let’s create a young professional persona for your credit union; we’ll call her Winnie. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you look for ways to improve Winnie’s member experience:

  • Always be helping: Winnie wants to open a savings account. What obstacles in her member journey are not helping her meet that objective? How can those obstacles be eliminated or improved?
  • Test, retest and be fluidDon’t set a process and forget it. What works today may not work tomorrow in helping Winnie to open a savings account. New obstacles and challenges will arise. You must be able to detect those weaknesses in order to overcome them.
  • Make it easy for members to say, yes: Simplify. Simplify. Simplify your processes. Make it easy for your members to engage in signing up for new products and services. Eliminate — or at least acknowledge aggravations — wherever possible.
  • Leave room for improvisation: When it comes to influencing the member behavior, your members may not interact with a product or service the way you intended. That’s okay. Use these setbacks as learning opportunities for better serving your members.

Creating a Living Map

Understanding what motivates your members is key to knowing what financial products and services your credit union should offer. Keep in mind the needs and wants of your members are likely to change as time progresses. In this sense, it is important to think of your member journey map as a living document. You will likely find yourself adding to the member journey map and refining it as your credit union changes and expands.

For questions about how MemberXP can help your credit union achieve its objectives, including intelligence to inform your member journey mapping, or to request a demo, visit

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