The Human and Digital Touch
Join Sundeep Kapur and Lynne Jarman-Johnson for a discussion about maintaining the human touch with customers in an increasingly digital world. Hard work and a willingness to take the extra step are topics in this week’s “Money, I’m Home!”
00:07 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m home! Hi, welcome, I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. From finance to fitness, we’ve got it all. And today, we have a very special guest to talk with. You know what? Do you sometimes feel just stressed out your world is so fast-paced? We’ve a lot of times on “Money I’m Home,” on our podcast here, we’ve talked about digital banking and the speed of how things are changing. And that’s true in every ounce of your life. And today, we have an expert with us, someone who is not only an expert in digital, but also an expert in truly getting to the heart of what matters in life, and that’s you and your relationships. Sundeep Kapur, thank you so much for being with us.
00:51 Sundeep Kapur: Thank you so much for having me, Lynne.
00:53 LJJ: Tell us a little bit about you and I’ll explain how we met, which I think is so much fun. Tell us a little bit about you and your background and how you got into what is now an extremely cool line of business. You tell people how to focus on digital, but in a very heartfelt way.
01:14 SK: I started off as a teacher, I enjoyed teaching and then I went and I worked for many brands and then I quickly realized that all I was doing was I was still teaching. So, for the last seven years, I step back, I still focus on education, but the way I think it’s important for any brand to behave is to pretend that we’re consumer and how would we be treated as a consumer. If we are treated well, we would appreciate the brand and this comes down to what is important to us in life. It’s about being healthy, it’s about being wealthy, and it’s about being wise. It’s an old adage but it’s true.
01:56 LJJ: Healthy, wealthy, and wise. I’m going to give you an example of something that happened to me the other day, and it made me smile the entire day. And after listening to you and reading what you talk about, it kind of brought to my attention that this is what life’s all about. So, I was in the drive-through at McDonald’s and you know how they now have the two lanes to make it faster to get through the drive-through, and then there’s that pause of time where you’re looking and trying to figure it out. Are you the next car to go or is the next car to go? And so, I just paused and waved the car that was next to me up. I just waved him up. I thought, “You know what, it’s a beautiful day. I’m not in any hurry, and away we went. And I got up to pay, and the cashier said, “Your bill has been taken care of, the car in front of you is thanking you for waving them in.” And I smiled the rest of the day. I actually paid for the person behind me, just to pay it forward, as they say, but I thought to myself, that’s the kind of stuff that every day in customer service and what you do, what you intentionally do, can help someone succeed, have a better day, be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
03:19 SK: Right. And it’s these little things every day. I’ll give you… And a couple of interesting examples. This morning, I walked up to try to get a cup of coffee at the hotel that I was at, and I was very courteous. I made sure I did not alarm the lady who was making the coffee, because it wasn’t out on the floor. I was courteous, I said “Good morning” and I said, “Can I get some coffee?” and she said, it’s already out there. I went around two or three times, I couldn’t find it. And then finally she brought out the coffee for everybody. I can’t trust this with the experience the night before with another lady who was also at the same hotel, who actually walked up to me and said, “Give me a minute, I’ll get you a fresh cup.” It’s that same difference. It’s me picking it up myself, but it’s that extra little bit. I think that’s important. And what you’re saying is, if a brand does nice things, if people do nice things… Look at this. McDonald’s is being recognized even though McDonald’s really didn’t have anything to do… As far as service is concerned.
04:39 SK: But that lady smiling at you, telling you, made you pay for the next person, the next person is going to hear the same thing. So, the brand does collaborate with the end user consumer in order to deliver.
04:54 LJJ: Where have you seen in your travels, and you travel all over the world, what do you think is the most exciting digital transformation that still touches human lives that you’re seeing right now?
05:12 SK: The best thing that can happen is to see the smile on the face of a consumer that has just purchased their first vehicle, the consumer that has purchased their first home. And even that high schooler who has now started working and has their own credit card. That independence is something that is great. Now, where all do I see this? I see this sometimes in small communities, I see this in big communities. I’ve had the opportunity to see in different parts of the world, a concept called PayTM, which means pay through mobile, where you’re paying transacting through your mobile device. I see this in developing countries like India, I’ve seen this in Latin America, but what I find really beautiful out in the United States is the level of comfort of people of all ages with technology is changing. We used to think that technology was just for the millennials. But if you look at everyone, my parents are 80 and 76. My dad’s 80, my mom is 76 years old, yet my parents are ones who will send money to my children, their grandchildren, via Venmo. My dad accepts payments for his rental property through Venmo. He appreciates digital. And just to see that transaction ease, it’s a delight.
06:54 LJJ: Do you also love the way Venmo has created a community of its own? You can publicly state what you’re paying and make someone laugh or it can be private, too, but you can publicly promote it. And it’s really fun to see what people are paying and why and…
07:14 SK: Yeah, so Venmo does have a social network. I really like that, but I’ll step back and I’ll start saying it a different way. When someone puts their information public, sometimes, that public information might not be safe. I’ve actually started seeing community financial institutions who used to be a place where the community gathered at a physical location, they’re beginning to do their own version of Venmo. Their own version of Venmo is their own digital payments, their own convenience. And that sense of community actually goes a long way in building engagement with both the community and the consumer that you serve.
08:02 LJJ: So, we liken it to when you transfer from account to account. How does it feel when I say I’m transferring from account to account in the banking world, versus saying I Venmo-ed somebody and made it an experience. That sounds to me what you’re saying.
08:21 SK: It does. We make it an experience. We make it something that’s easy. And if you look at Google as one word, we use Google as a verb. “Hey, I googled that.” I would love if my brand name was used as a verb that allowed the consumer to see and be happy in terms of what needs to be done.
08:45 LJJ: That’s great. Why do you think, when you look at technology and how it is, put a screen in front of us much of the time, what do you think about that in the sense of being able to be high technology, and yet still have the culture of touching someone’s lives and changing their lives for the better?
09:07 SK: Okay, I’ll go back to the example you gave from McDonald’s. I personally grab a lot of meals at McDonald’s. I travel, and sometimes, it’s really late. And that is my place I can get a safe clean sandwich. And what I found that has happened at McDonald’s is, there’s a lot of automation that has taken place. I can order the sandwich on my phone, I can come and order it myself on a digital kiosk. But what is now amazing is that the employee that originally took the time to take my order, is actually conversing with me. A lot of times, when you look at technology, technology is high tech. And we take so much effort in interacting with that. And if I was an employee at McDonald’s, most of my effort would be on taking the order and making sure that the order is fulfilled. But what technology has now done is that the consumers order the sandwich, which means I can come and get the sandwich personally to the consumer, and even converse with them and ask them, “Hey, what brought you to my restaurant?” And I believe this is the lesson that brands and consumers should both appreciate.
10:22 SK: We can do so much on our personal computers, and I’m talking about our really personal computers, which is our mobile devices. Most of us walk around with smartphones. Many people are digitally savvy, which means I’m efficient, I don’t have to carry paper, I know how to go from point A to point B, I have a GPS built in, I can pay. But what this means is, as an employee or a consumer, I have more time to talk. And I think that human element can be brought back, and this is where I feel that some of the bigger brands like, we talk about Venmo, et cetera. They’re good, they’re functional, but do they have people behind that who can communicate with others to serve, humans serving humans?
11:13 LJJ: Which really is the difference, and it can be both. When it’s both, isn’t that Nirvana?
11:20 SK: It absolutely is. You feel that “I can do anything and everything that I want digitally without having to come to you,” but knowing that you are there to help me goes a long way in us driving value. Knowing that if I come to you and I have a question because I don’t know how to do something or I have a problem that you need to resolve for me, or perhaps it’s advice you give me and say to me, that Sundeep, I don’t think you can afford this today. Let me help you build it up.” I think that human element is really, really important. Lynne, I’ll give you a simple example. My son has just started with his life, he’s bought a home and originally, he was going to buy a home when his credit score was 700-ish. And I told him, I said “Your ability to get an interest rate on that loan… ”
12:23 LJJ: That’s a good interest rate…
12:24 SK: It’s a good interest rate. But I said, “What if you work harder and you raised your credit score even more? Wouldn’t you make… Wouldn’t you save money?” There was a human from the financial institution, and me, the father, giving him that advice. Online, he would have just seen this, he would have clicked on it, and he would’ve said, “Oh yeah, I’ll save money.” But really, what comes out of it? So that’s why that human and digital element is ever so important. And yes, every now and then, it is high touch, high touch as possible, because there is high tech. Tech does the job but that allows me to reach out and communicate with you.
13:06 LJJ: Now, I said earlier that I would explain how we met. And we were both involved in the CUES Future Summit, which is a Credit Union Executive Society Future Summit, which really brings in a lot of what’s happening in the future, not only in finance, but in executive lives, leadership. And I met you by doing yoga with you on stage. Give us a little bit of background because I love the fact that you really are so savvy in the technical world, but you bring everybody back and you say, “This is what it’s all about, it’s about you and me, it’s about relationships.”
13:46 SK: So, take a look at yoga, just as an example. Yoga, a lot of people look at it as a way to exercise, it’s a way for people to network. It’s a way for you to bring calm to yourself. And if you were to take any pose… So many times, what I do is I put my hands together, I clasp them and I raise them above my head pointing towards the sky. This is called the moon pose, and this moon pose gives you tremendous energy, but what I tell people to do is to realize that the moon pose has three critical elements in it. Number one, there’s the physical element of you doing the pose correctly. Number two, remember to breathe. And number three, which is very important, think of why it is called the moon pose. The moon pose lights… The moon lights up the night. It gives you energy. So, this is a pose about drawing energy. And what I like to do is apply principles of yoga back to digital interaction and human interaction. It’s not just, “Oh we are doing this.” It’s “Why are we doing this? Can we have the discipline of doing it correctly?” And please don’t stop breathing and living while you’re saving up that money, because… In yoga, you stop breathing, you’re done, too.
15:14 LJJ: We took a walk today around the offices. And there was a quote on a board of our chief financial officer. It was a quote from you.
15:26 SK: I read this a while back and I try to do this. The quote basically goes, we all have two lives. The second one begins when we realize we only have one. Just do it, do it now and do it with passion. Enjoy your life.
15:47 LJJ: Enjoy your life, Sundeep. Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us today. Money, I’m home, with Consumers Credit Union. Thank you, Jake. Your production is always spectacular. We hope you have a great week.