The Future of Member Service: Credit Unions Discuss Technology and Service

Today’s consumers have an increasing number of ways to interact with their financial institution. Credit unions are built off of deep relationships with their members, so ensuring that they’re constantly providing the best possible experience is paramount to success. This means both keeping on top of new innovations, as well as ensuring that technologies are utilized effectively. With this much focus on making the right decisions, it’s important to look to those who have done so successfully for guidance and advice. 

Recently, a panel of credit union and fintech experts gathered with Glia and our partner Tethr to discuss their experiences. Read on to learn about the tips and thought processes of three credit unions: BCU, TwinStar Credit Union, and Connexus Credit Union, who have successfully navigated this shifting member service landscape. 

Gathering Insights

One of the most powerful tools that credit unions are taking advantage of are analytics and data that can be drawn from their digital interactions. Contact centers are turning into data centers, where insights can be taken from member service and taken advantage of. If acted upon, credit unions can maximize operational efficiency and diagnose potential problems that would otherwise ruin the member experience. 

“The member experience technologies are really helpful in terms of, yes, hearing feedback from our members, but we’ve also been able to leverage it too to support other organizational initiatives,” says Anthony Cooper, Service Enhancement Specialist at Connexus Credit Union. “For instance, we rolled out some really fundamental service skills training with our frontline department last year, and using technology such as Tethr we’re able to see ‘okay, are these new skills actually sticking or making a difference?’, to justify additional training or to see where further reinforcement needs to happen.” The digital member experience provides a wealth of insights into the overall journey from start to finish, and examining this journey can provide the information needed to make crucial decisions. 

Aaron Mickelson, Director of Digital Services for TwinStar Credit Union, similarly agrees that digital service provides a unique opportunity for learning about how your services can be improved: “It’s the power of listening, right? Forever we’ve talked about technology and introducing things like omnichannel and the member being able to have this seamless experience, but if you can’t understand what they’re doing from beginning to end and how that all coalesces into one experiential journey, you’ll never get it right.” Digital service allows you to follow and listen to the members along their journey like never before, and by paying attention to this journey you can learn where improvements may need to be made. 

Survey Says…

Surveys are an often-used tactic to try and gauge member satisfaction with your online service channels. Often, people may be surprised to not receive a ‘how did we do today?’ message after any kind of online interaction, including with their credit union. There was a good deal of discussion regarding how effective these surveys really are, and where this method of research may be lacking in gauging how much your members enjoy the service experience. 

Aaron Mickelson notes that the kinds of members who actually take surveys aren’t always going to be an accurate portrayal of your member base: “What we found is that over the years, everyone starts surveying and that survey fatigue kicks in, the people who take surveys are polarized. Either you get the person with the really, really good experience or the person with the bad experience. You never get the forgotten middle, which is actually the most important and the largest group of your membership base.” Those with overly negative or overly positive experiences are much more likely to take a survey than those who had a more average experience, thus leading to a bias in the reporting. 

This observation is shared by Keith Parris, Sr. Director of Call Center Operations & Technologies at BCU: “When I take a look at the population of our surveys it tends to just be on the two extremes, which in some ways can be great, but in other ways it’s not as helpful because it’s either telling me what we did great or what we didn’t do great. It doesn’t help me understand how I can move the needle either way,” he explains. The amount of actionable insight from these surveys can be limited, as the takeaways you can get from this relatively small slice of participants doesn’t paint an entire picture. Surveys can show you what a particularly standout experience, either good or bad, can look like, but won’t be a full representation of a more average member journey. 

Aaron Mickelson makes a point about how to fill this gap in knowledge that surveys lack, referencing the previous points made on insights available through the digital service experience itself: “If you think about it, on a phone call or chat, why do I need to ask a member how their experience was? They told me while they were having the experience,” he explains. Rather than relying on surveys to discern how your members feel about the overall service experience, actively listening to members while they’re engaged with those experiences can fill in the gaps of knowledge and help discern where improvements can be made. Surveys have their place in mapping out where a credit union can focus efforts on upgrading their member experience, but combining them with insights gathered through direct observation creates a more complete puzzle.

Efficiency or Quality of Experiences: Do You Have to Choose?

Many credit unions may be hesitant to adopt certain digital channels, particularly those who place an emphasis on the member experience, due to the weight that efficiency was given with these new technologies. There’s a belief that efficiency can only come at the cost of the member experience and vice versa, only being able to trade how well they serve members with how quickly they do. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, as there are use-cases for digital member service that can do both at the same time without sacrificing one or the other. 

One technique that can be utilized to ensure you do not need to choose between these two is providing a variety of different communication channels for members to pick from, ensuring that they are able to communicate with their credit union no matter their preference. “We can pivot almost instantaneously depending upon where the volume of traffic is coming from… our scores have shown us that our Glia chat is just performing better from an NPS standpoint, and so obviously if my members are saying ‘hey, we love it’ I want to give them more of it. But I also want to make sure that I’m not hamstringing myself so if anything ever changes, or if there’s a blip, that service delivery doesn’t fall off the cliff because we were not agile or nimble enough to redirect as quickly as possible,” says Keith Parris. 

The ability to switch between channels effortlessly and seamlessly both allows for service staff to more easily serve members, while at the same time improving their experience by empowering them with the choice of communication channels. “We can’t always choose what channel that the customer wants to engage in, and being able to have that flexible option is tremendous… they want the right answer with the least friction, and the faster and easier you get that to them [the better]” says Paul Sheets, EVP of Customer Success & Services at Glia. 

“If someone is switching from digital to phone, how can we quickly pick up where the member left off on the digital channel and get back to helping them as quick as possible?” asks Anthony Cooper, a question which serves as their reasoning for embracing a ChannelLess™ member service experience. Removing the cumbersome transition process between the channels improves member satisfaction because of creating a more efficient system, rather than in spite of it. 

Want to hear more from these credit union leaders on the future of member service? Check out the full webinar recording here.