This post was co-authored with partner Russ Brooks, who served as a credit union CEO. While it is specifically tailored to credit unions, the basic principles of the centrality of trust in building business relationships, and the inability of machines to earn it, apply to all industries.
There is an old saying – “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust. All things being unequal, people prefer to do business with people they know like and trust”. Ask any salesperson and she or he will tell you the key consideration in business development is always TRUST. The central question here is: Can you build trust with a machine?
Two trends of the last two years have changed relationships between credit unions and their members. The first is the pandemic, which caused members to alternately be locked out or discouraged from making in-person visits. The second trend is the introduction of artificial intelligence as a primary interface between credit unions and their members. Initially, the use of AI was a part of ongoing “innovation”. But AI has evolved into a rescue tool to maintain service levels with members in the face of pandemic lockdowns and staff reductions.
With a new normal emerging, there are real risks for credit unions in rebuilding trusting business relationships with existing members.
The question posed in the title is, How Do You Build Trust with a Machine? The simple answer is you cannot. The reality is humans are highly social creatures and anything that interrupts building interpersonal relationships and the trust they can foster will have a negative impact on the credit union. It is only a matter of time before human beings determine that Artificial Intelligences is, well, artificial. Even chatbots will be detected as annoying machines pretending to be human.
Pity the CU that that is enamored by AI as a shiny solution and relies on it to build member relationships. Instead, to succeed, indeed flourish, CU leaders need to address these three strategic questions:
1) Who are the members who want and need interpersonal interactions?
2) How do we build trust when AI is unable to handle complex situations?
3) What training initiatives are required for existing and new member-facing staff to ensure that trust is reinforced and strengthened
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