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How Member-Focused Credit Unions Can Do More with Less

Making Not-for-Profit Profitable

Credit unions are defined as not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve the financial needs of their member owners. It can be easy to interpret that "not-for-profit" to mean not driven by financial success. On the contrary, just like any Fortune 500 mega-company, a credit union’s very survival depends on turning a profit. In this case however, that profit is returned back to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates. While differing slightly from a corporation’s goal to provide larger dividends to its shareholders, a credit union’s aim to create a secure financial environment within a shared-interest community makes maximizing return on every investment just as vital.

I would imagine most credit unions would love to have the vast revenue streams and annual budgets typical of a corporate behemoth, even for just a day. Back in the real world unfortunately, it’s more often a “do more with less” daily struggle.  While the struggle is indeed real, so are your chances for financial success with a few sound investments and a forward looking commitment to your members’ experiences.

Wish vs. Need: Your Contact Center Solution Set

Let’s take a look at a scenario you’re probably very familiar with. This year's goal for your credit union’s contact center is to boost the level of member service, but hiring additional staff is simply not feasible. Nonetheless, issues such as long hold times, abandoned calls, and member frustration will need to be addressed. By moving these five features from your contact center “Wish” list to your “Must Have” list, you’ll have a cost-effective tool set that will produce the desired results.

  1. Announce Queue Position and Wait Time:  Your members are calling for a good reason – they need your help. The last thing they want to feel is that they are unrecognized and unsure of if or when they will be served. Educating them to their position and wait time helps ease their frustration and promotes their acceptance of queue convenience features and self-service options
  2. Convenient Call-Back Option:  There are times when you will not have enough staff to handle spikes in everyday volume, or the occasional case of event-driven call volume, like data breaches or during acquisitions and mergers. So why make callers hold the line in queue when they can simply hang up and automatically receive a call back from the next available agent? The ensuing member-agent interaction will be much warmer and productive when you demonstrate a respect for their valuable time.
  3. Authenticate Members in Queue: You’re going to have to verify the caller anyway, so why not let your call center software do it for you quickly and securely?  With today’s available integration into cores systems, member information databases, and customer relationship management solutions, there’s no excuse not to provide this time-saving service.
  4. Speak Real-Time Information: Now that your callers’ have been verified, take the next logical step and offload their redundant queries, such as account balance, last few transactions and payment due date.  Studies indicate that these typically account for up to 50% of your calls. Why incur the expense of time and trained staff when these questions can be answered quickly and inexpensively through convenient, interactive self-service channels? 
  5. Secure Screen Pop: You’ve already collected the identification and verification of callers; wouldn’t it make sense to pass that information along to the person who can use it? By populating the core and presenting the data on the agent’s desktop, you will enable a warm introduction and streamlined service that creates a better experience for everyone.  Your members won’t have to repeat themselves and agents can provide quick, personalized service on every single contact.

Member Experience & More

We know that for credit unions of all sizes, creating a memorable and satisfying member experience is always going to be a top priority. But there’s nothing that says increased productivity, streamlined efficiency, and robust bottom line growth can’t also be a part of the package. Take a deeper look at each of these features to see how they might fit with your credit union’s plans.  Here’s hoping you’ll be able to “profit” from this advice.

About the Author

Ron Schinder has been involved in the call center industry since 1998, and managed the USF Federal Credit Union's contact center for 10 years prior to joining CenturionCARES.  His expertise ranges from call flow configurations to quality assurance coaching and model writing to caller de-escalation.

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