Recently, I bought a new thermometer for our home. There was nothing wrong with our current model—it was programmable and did a fine job of controlling the heat and air conditioning. In fact, I had never given the subject any thought whatsoever.
I am fairly frugal, however, I have weakness for technology. I am an early adopter and gadget freak, so, when I learned about the Nest Learning Thermometer, created by Tony Fadell, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of the iPod and iPhone Division, I knew that my mind would eventually rationalize the purchase of this fancy new gadget. If you are anything like me, after you spend some time on the Nest website or see the box at an Apple Store, you’ll succumb and buy it. I did, and I haven’t regretted this decision from the moment I took possession of this gorgeous box and the glorious device inside.
I carefully unwrapped the box and the contents were beautifully designed and organized. The build quality of the Nest is incredible. Little things set it apart, like a built-in level to make sure this round device is installed square to the floor. The real beauty and wow factor happened as I was seamlessly guided through the installation process with simple written and video instructions. I am fairly handy, but the idea of playing around with wires that control furnace and air conditioning equipment was intimidating. Twenty minutes later, our Nest was installed on the wall and on our home network and I was programming the device from my iPad. This is the thermostat that would make all of the polyester-clad crew of the Starship Enterprise super comfortable.
Of course I took pictures and posted to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I believe that I convinced at least four people to buy one after some social-media conversing.
There’s an actual term for this mostly male procedure. It’s called unboxing. If you are not familiar with the term “unboxing,” head to Google or YouTube and do a quick search for “unboxing the Nest thermostat” or “unboxing insert name of device here” to get the idea. Wikipedia defines the process as the unpacking of new products, especially high-tech consumer products. The product’s owner captures the process on video and later uploads it to the web. The term has been labeled a new form of “geek porn.” I’m not sure if I can use that term on a credit-union-related website, but there it is.
Why have I spent the first 400 words of my “credit union” article describing the purchase of a network-enabled thermostat? Because it left a deep impression and I kept thinking to myself, “How can credit unions create a better new member experience that rivals the purchase of the latest must-have gadget?” Credit union professionals and the technology providers that serve them should think about the new member experience through this unboxing lens. Is it possible to make the procedure so great that someone would be compelled to record it and post the experience to YouTube in celebration?
Most credit unions rely on outmoded paper-based switch kits and even when the procedure is fully automated with online account opening, the process remains tedious. I know that it’s not simple to collect all of the required information, verify identity and fund the new account, but in this modern digital world where we can create a Facebook or Twitter account in seconds, how can credit unions create delight in the arduous task of opening an account online or in person? In fact, how can credit unions create delight in everything they do, from depositing money to applying for a loan or mortgage?
If it’s possible to make the ownership and installation of a thermostat this incredible, this memorable and this shareable, I believe it is possible to make financial services delightful and unboxable.
Tim McAlpine lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. He is the President and Creative Director of Currency Marketing, an integrated marketing agency specializing in helping credit unions attract the next generation of members. Tim is best known as the creator of Young & Free and CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec, and co-creator of the CU Water Cooler.