Everence Transforms Around Digital for Long-Term Growth
Everence is a faith-based, member-owned financial services organization headquartered in Goshen, Indiana. Nestled in the heart of Amish Country, Goshen is an iconic small town featuring historic architecture, year-round festivals—even the occasional horse and buggy. But it’s also a college town with a flourishing arts scene, live local music, and craft breweries, where young, connected customers can pay for a pint with their smartphone. Like other financial services organizations, Everence faces a competitive landscape that has been redefined by the internet and mobile technology, along with the outsized influence of digital-savvy millennials. Banking, insurance and credit card companies now compete not only with other financial institutions but also with digital disruptors like Apple Pay, Square, and Mint. This would be enough to keep anyone awake at night. But with out-of-date technology and an aging customer base, Everence needed to do more than keep up with the latest apps. They needed to transform the way they work and build a sustainable digital future.
As Vice President of Innovation and Project Management at Everence, Julie Hertzler drove the digital strategy initiative, bringing PK on board to create a comprehensive digital experience strategy. There was a strong consensus that Everence needed a new website and content management system. But before investing in new technology, they needed to understand what new customers cared about and how that aligned to business goals. And as they expanded into new markets, Everence had to reimagine how their teams would establish relationships, set priorities, and create lifetime value—for the business as well as for customers.
Using our AIM Digital Experience Framework, we worked with Julie and other Everence leaders to align around a multi-year vision, imagine the digital experience their customers might enjoy in the future, and create a roadmap for long-term growth and customer lifetime value. Our metrics for success are not simply to create a digital strategy, but to enable Everence to achieve meaningful business outcomes:
- Connect with new customer segments and increase market share
- Cross-sell products and increase the number of services that customers used
- Make member signup and financial transaction experiences easy
- Cultivate stewardship and empower communities to live by their shared values
The first and most essential step in framing the future is to agree upon the “north star” that will influence all other decisions. We brought together stakeholders from across the company to align around a vision for the future with the customer at the center.
As a faith-based organization, Everence is motivated by more than money. Their core mission is to cultivate stewardship, so Everence defined their north star as, “Creating capacity for stewardship through interaction with Anabaptist values.” In other words, they aim to use innovative digital products and services to help their customers integrate faith with their finances.
The next step was to imagine future digital experiences through the eyes of a customer and align that with the value that Everence can uniquely deliver.
- What if customers could log in to Everence and see how their finances are tracking with their faith and values?
- What if they could make meaningful digital connections with financial advisors, peers and the community?
- How could Everence bring the same sense of fellowship that they provide in-person to a new digital platform and serve new customers across the country?
The Everence digital experience strategy focuses not only on the customers they have today but on the younger generation that comes next. It’s the beginning of a journey toward growth in new markets and more meaningful brand and service experiences.
Customer research unearthed a better understanding of younger customers and what was important to them. This informed personas that feel like real people and journey maps that align with their unique interactions with Everence.
“The persona work was one of the most impactful things we got out of the whole process,” Julie says. “It was emotional in a way, as you get in the shoes of these people and feel like you know them.”
Finally, we worked with Everence to map out a clear plan for prioritizing and executing their digital experience strategy, helping them ask and answer key questions about:
- People: How do roles and skillsets need to change?
- Platforms: What core technologies should they invest in?
- Processes: What operational changes and new habits are required?
- Priorities: What comes first and what will drive value?
- Plan: What programs will they implement—and how will they measure success?
The DX Map includes a phased rollout of key digital experience and innovation programs, as well as a plan to utilize customer data and build agile, high-functioning digital teams.
Julie says the work they did with PK was unlike anything they had done before. It got them thinking about things differently, speaking the same new language, and focusing everything they do on their customers. “From the beginning, we felt like you understood our unique culture, values, and goals,” she says. “Everything feels right because you know us in a way that no one ever has before.”
The icing on the cake is that Julie and her team have set a new standard at Everence: Having a roadmap for digital strategy initiatives is now a strategic objective for the entire organization. And others are asking, “How did your team get to where you are?”
In Goshen and beyond, the world is changing. But those who adapt have the chance to earn more loyal and engaged relationships, provide greater value to customers—and build more sustainable businesses. And a digital experience strategy is a great place to start.