Using call centers for CU loan applications


Credit unions have earned a reputation for member satisfaction because of their member-first mindset and the intimate relationships they seek to build through person-to-person interactions. Like most consumers, CU members have altered their banking habits to help navigate the restrictions set during the pandemic, but digitally-focused methods can at times seem impersonal and isolating, according to James urban, Deputy Vice President of the Member Experience Center at Community First Credit Union.

“The ability to just come in and meet your needs is almost gone at this point,” Urban told PYMNTS in a recent interview. “It has really minimized or reduced the number of points of contact members have with staff and branches. “

Personalization of digital solutions through human interaction can strengthen member relationships, and the expansion of digital options for mortgages and personal or auto loans can increase UC revenues, which may lag behind the d ‘other types of FIs in providing these offers. Urban explained how adapting technology to each member, as well as maintaining access to on-line operators, can help CUs gain a competitive advantage over traditional banks and FinTechs in lending.

The amplification of the pandemic of loans, call centers

Many consumers have realized the convenience of mobile and digital banking tools, but are not quite ready to commit to using them only. Definitive evidence to back it up, Urban said, is the level at which traditionally branch-centric members began to interact with the CU call center after the start of the pandemic.

“Our inbound call volume initially increased by at least 60%,” he said. “Then it came down to about a 35-40% increase, and it’s still higher now than it normally would have been at this point – not at the same high level, because obviously branches have been reopened for some time. “

A recent report predicts significant growth in the use of online banking, with more than half of the world’s population expected to do digital banking by 2026. This suggests that there is a sustainable place for digital alternatives, but The rise in call center contacts is a clear indicator that members remain wanting to have the ability to speak to someone live.

Community First’s surge in call volume has coincided with an increase in demand for loans to ease economic distress from the pandemic. The UC was able to take advantage of peaks in both services to meet the needs of its members.

“What surprised us all is that requests for loans, loans and membership continue to be, if not at levels similar to those before the pandemic, maybe even at a somewhat low level. higher, ”Urban said. “In response to the fact that the demand for loans and membership was still quite strong with branch closures and things like that, we had to find another way for our members to continue to meet those needs.”

The product of this brainstorming was Express Team, a dedicated live team to help members get loans, open new memberships, or add checking accounts by phone or live chat.

“We started with a pilot test of about four or five people, and really, we did it without knowing that we were going to see as much success as we could see. The result for this was simply to see that [we should] go ahead and do [Express Team] a permanent part of our organization, ”he continued.

Automation personalization increases buy-in

Members sometimes face friction during onboarding or various digital application processes. If members cannot resolve the issues on their own, the next action is to contact a customer service representative. Employees can then start or resume the loan application over the phone or submit a loan application through the loans department. Increased access to human-managed services can then lead to a higher rate of fully-fulfilled applications and greater membership acquisition.

Digital data can also help follow up with members and make process improvements if needed. CU employees have access to their members’ accounts and have transparency over all transactions and balances. Information from member data allows CU to recognize products and services that could benefit potential and existing members.

“Our loan origination system is where [the data] lives for each individual. Then, of course, in management we can… make sure we’re tracking what needs to be taken care of there. … For example, we open a membership and then automatically that new member will receive a welcome package, ”said Urban.

Digital-centric trends may seem at odds with the traditional mission of CU members, but they are here to stay. CUs can reverse this apparent drawback, however, by adding their unique brand of personalization to the equation. Those who do will have nothing to fear from traditional banks and FinTechs in a digital world.


About Kimberly Alley

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