In an age of uncertainty, member experience matters even more


By Ryan Lester, Director, Customer Engagement Technologies, LogMeIn

The coronavirus pandemic has upended your members’ lives, whether due to financial hardship, health concerns, or lifestyle changes. As a credit union, you’ve always been there for your members, but a public health crisis coupled with economic uncertainty means members are counting on you for financial information and help.

Perhaps your credit union has been fielding member calls about applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness. Or members are using chat to check if a branch is open and what safety precautions you’re taking. Worried about the risk of visiting a branch in person, members who are using remote deposit capture for the first time are contacting you for technical support.

Joli Hensley, manager of digital channels at Advia Credit Union in Parchment, Mich., told attendees at the recent CXNext virtual event that support calls and chats skyrocketed with COVID-19-related questions. Hensley estimates that call center volume has doubled, and live chat volume increased 44%.

At the same time call volumes are rising, your member-facing employees are working remotely to comply with state-mandated stay-at-home orders. Some, including your longest-tenured agents, may even be unable to work due to homeschooling children or other challenges. Your most-experienced agents—the ones who other agents look to for answers to complex member questions–may be sidelined.

In a time of disruption, a digital-first approach can redefine both member and agent experience. Luckily Advia already had the self-service digital tools in place to handle COVID-19 volumes. “Every member wants to interact differently,” explained Hensley. “Members who want to use self-service can do so easily and without friction, freeing our agents up to interact with members who want to connect with a human.”
Even with the spike in volumes, Advia was able to serve every member without increasing wait times during the height of the pandemic, noted Hensley.

Digital Tools Vs. a Digital-First Approach
The vast majority of credit unions have some digital presence such as a website, online FAQ, and perhaps a chatbot or email channel. But many see these digital tools as secondary to human agents.

Since credit unions typically pride themselves on exceptional personal (i.e., human) interactions with members, many don’t realize that their members want digital self-service. A recent survey conducted by IoT and SOTI found that 73% of consumers prefer self-service over interactions with human agents, up 10.6% from the prior year.

It’s likely that your members want to self-serve and only speak with a live agent for complex requests.

A digital-first strategy using self-service channels with a seamless transition to human agents allows you to not only serve more members more quickly in a time of crisis but to compete with both big banks and digitally-focused startups that have already embraced a digital-first strategy. These tools also empower your front-line employees with accurate, consistent information to better serve members.

Fast Track in a Time of Crisis
Prior to COVID-19, Corning Credit Union had been working on consolidating the information located in FAQs, tucked away in siloed systems, hidden in paper documentation, and even existing in agents’ heads into a consolidated knowledge base. In the interim, agents asked each other questions face-to-face or using internal chat.

But in times of crisis—like COVID-19—policies and procedures change quickly. Members were reaching out for information, and employees were scrambling to get accurate information to them. Since agents were working remotely, they relied on internal chat to share information. The chat not only became unwieldy, but the information wasn’t always up-to-date, explained Chad Hassler, Supervisor of Digital Services and Support, during the virtual CXNext event.

COVID-19 was the catalyst that turned a centralized knowledge base from an ongoing project into a strategic priority.
Within only a few days, Corning Credit Union launched the Bold360 Rapid Response FAQ Web Widget, a product by LogMeIn created to help businesses handle frequently asked member questions such as new branch hours, whether branch drive-ups were open, or the status of their stimulus check.
The widget worked, answering 80% of COVID-19-related calls without agent involvement, noted Hassler. “It’s remarkable. We can get accurate, updated information out in an instant.”

The New Normal is Now
During a time of uncertainty, you may be tempted to table any plans for implementing new solutions. However, this crisis has changed the status quo for many industries, including financial services. A digital investment will help you not only navigate the current crisis but the future as well.

You’ll likely find that the new digital behaviors members and agents learn will become habits once the pandemic is over. Members will continue to use remote deposit capture even when branches fully reopen. They’ll be accustomed to accessing your FAQ before picking up the phone and dialing your call center. And the ability to work-at-home can become a benefit you offer to hire and retain top agents.

Welcome to the new normal.

Of course, too much automation can be as detrimental to member experience as too little. A digital-first strategy doesn’t mean that members should have to jump through hoops to get to a live agent. Instead, make it easy for members by routing those with complicated requests directly to an agent—and empower your agents with up-to-date information.

If in doubt about digital versus human, prioritize member experience over operational efficiency.
During a crisis, fast access to accurate information is critical. Digital channels, powered by a knowledge base, can set your credit union apart during a pandemic—and after.



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