Recently I had the unfortunate experience of calling a government agency. I was experiencing problems doing something online and ran up against an expiring deadline.

I had to speak to a real person to get the situation resolved, but the phone menu didn’t cooperate. Every time I pressed the number that was supposed to connect me with the correct department, it took me back to the home menu and started the process all over again.

I did this about 10 times before I finally hung up defeated. This agency could definitely have benefited from a journey mapping exercise to see what their customer experience was really like.

Is this a situation that could happen (or maybe has happened) to your members or customers?

In today’s day and age, people use their phones for everything except phone calls. Pew Research Center reported that one in five American adults are “smartphone only Internet users,” meaning in their personal lives they only access the Internet through a mobile device.

With instant gratification at their fingertips, you can bet that by the time callers actually do get to you they need your attention pretty quickly. When people have questions or concerns about their money, few things are more frustrating than getting stuck in the hamster wheel of your phone menu.

It’s unfortunate how many businesses – credit unions and banks included – don’t take this into account when journey mapping the consumer experience. They focus on the interactions their employees have when consumers initiate contact, but they forget about interactions with automation.

The phone menu is without a doubt a consumer experience – one that most consumers would just as soon forget. Making yours better than everyone else’s could serve as an experience differentiator for your financial institution.

The same goes for your website. How do you want members or customers to feel when they do business with you online? Should they be greeted warmly as they would be in person or on the phone? Is there a way for them to interact with your staff, or is your website still one big electronic brochure? Sweor reports that 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site after a poor experience. Your website matters for more than just aesthetics, and today’s consumers expect to experience your website, not just read it.

How do you want members or customers to experience your financial institution digitally?

That is the first question your team should ask before designing a website, phone menu or any other automated service.