As digital strategies continue to proliferate throughout the credit union industry, the contact center has become essential.
Calling a company about an issue can be a miserable experience. Being transferred to four departments and having to explain an issue, not to mention basic account information, four different times will frustrate the most patient consumers. These experiences have given the call center a bad image in the minds of consumers. Stereotypes of call center agents who do not speak fluent English failing to understand a problem have been burned into the American culture. However, the necessity for remotely assisting consumers has never been greater. Redesigning the call center into a contact center will enable credit unions to give their members excellent service. It will also empower credit unions to continue learning about their members through every interaction.
Call centers became widely used in the 1970s and quickly gained popularity as the telephone became popular. Previously, credit union members would have needed to visit with their local branch to discuss any questions they had about an account. Now, members could resolve these issues from the comfort of their home via telephone. In response to the demand phone calls were placing on the employees, credit unions began establishing call centers where highly trained employees would field calls as their full time responsibility. An operator (or an interactive voice response (IVR) system) would direct each issue to a call center agent with the appropriate skills. Calls to resolve issues became the norm, and the call center rose in significance. Although a telephone call will continue to be a strong form of communication with members, new forms of communication have risen in importance.
Chat, text, social media, email and other forms of digital communication have transformed credit union call centers into contact centers where interactions go beyond the telephone. Millennials grew up using many of these methods and are comfortable interacting with others using them. Imagine establishing a chat function on the credit union’s website that reaches out to all members (and potential members). Instead of sitting back and waiting for calls, contact centers can begin to find innovative ways to interact with their community.
Physical branches continue to see reduced traffic and more interactions are moving to the contact center. With increased traffic and a vast array of communication technologies, managing a contact center has become much more challenging. Simple metrics (e.g. call time) are being supplanted by metrics that are based on a holistic view of the member’s relationship with the credit union (cross-selling and member satisfaction). As interactions change in style and method, the contact center’s metrics must be adjusted utilizing a strategic analytics program.
MRM (Member Relationship Management)
If a member calls an agent about their new Apple Watch, their profile should be updated to indicate they own this gadget. If a member chats with the contact center indicating interest in a consumer loan product, this interaction should be logged. This is where the power of MRM meets the contact center. As knowledge increases about members through conversations, the credit union can tailor their services to improve the financial lives of each individual member. Maintaining an MRM will allow every employee to pick up the member relationship where the last interaction (regardless of the channel) left off. When a member begins an interaction with the contact center, the agent should have the entire profile of the member at their fingertips. There will no longer be a need to ask, “What is your member number?”. Questions like, “I see that you have a car loan and your mortgage is was paid off last year, would you be interested in opening a home equity loan to pay off your high interest rate car loan?” will show members that the credit union truly cares about their financial health.
In order to establish strong relationships with members, credit unions must integrate their various business systems using a member-centric data warehouse. Every interaction with a member should continually update the 360 degree profile of the member regardless of the business system employees are using. Whether a member initiates a transaction on their own through online/mobile banking, chats with the contact center, walks into a branch, or visits a partner dealership, the view of a member will continuously adjust. Developing analytics from this model will allow employees throughout the credit union to make decisions that improve the financial health of all members.