How to Maintain Your Core Values in a Digital World, With Brian Alfano of Oregon Community Credit Union


“We’re in a kind of an exciting transitional period where yes, things are becoming more digitized, but they are also becoming human in terms of how those interactions can be, how we can make them more authentic, and how the consumer wants them.”



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Episode Summary

Today’s credit unions are faced with a balancing act. On one side is the high-touch, member-focused, “people helping people” ethos. On the other side is the need to embrace digital, with all its benefits and all its shortcomings.

In this episode of the Digital Banking podcast, host Josh DeTar, welcomed Brian Alfano, the COO of Oregon Community Credit Union. They discussed how core values can guide you in the right direction, why credit unions need to put their members first, and how you can leverage digitization to improve services.

Key Insights

Your values are your guiding light.

Credit unions represent the “people helping people” philosophy in both their daily and big-picture operations. They work for the benefit of their members and are passionate about enriching their lives. Brian talked about how vision and values drive change in a credit union. “When we’re doing strategic planning here, we kind of look at it a little bit differently than a lot of credit unions,” said Alfano. “Every 90 days, we get together as the chief executive team … The first things that we review are our vision and values. So when we start that day, we reaffirm that we’re here to enrich lives. And how do we do that? By being humble, tenacious, and big-hearted.”

Put your members’ needs first.

Credit unions are forced to compete with financial institutions that have millions (and even billions) of dollars to invest in technology. According to Alfano, credit unions can do that effectively by sticking to those core values. “We’re never fully going to solve it,” said Alfano. “We’re going to continue to have to deal with those challenges, roadblocks, lack of integrations, overlaps, and so forth. Our role is to look at what the member needs to make their lives most effective. And how do I try to prioritize those in the best way possible given everything that we still have to tackle and improve?”

Digitizing member feedback can guide credit unions in the right direction.

Alfano talked about how turning member interactions into usable data could be a major breakthrough in the way credit unions respond to feedback. “If we can start getting into that kind of data intelligence by leveraging our systems in the back end, that’s when you can really start to drive change in how we interact and receive feedback from our members in real-time,” he said. “If I’m doing an online banking conversion, and I have all the call volume digitized, I can start to find out that, hey, we have the same exact issue happening with whatever widget it is, and I can fix that now with developers, versus what we do today: Let’s wait until the surveys come back, or hey, contact the call center manager.”

Guest At A Glance

Brian Alfano

Oregon Community Credit Union (OCCU)

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In his current role, Brian oversees the credit union’s retail operations team, or “member-facing team.” He’s passionate about constantly improving the experience for both members and employees to enrich their lives.

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