Avoiding Costly Member Service Mistakes

Credit unions have a core mission to provide members with great service. Here are a few ideas for improving your member interactions.


What’s the worst customer experience you’ve had on the phone? There are many reasons people experience poor interactions with a call center, and some companies seem to have made it an art form. Credit unions, however, have a core mission to provide members with great service. So what can be done to avoid frustrating phone calls and make member interactions memorable for the right reasons? Following are a few ideas for improving your member interactions.

Avoid Repeat Identification
You go to a lot of trouble to identify members to make sure they are who they claim to be. If they are transferred, are they asked to repeat identifying information? On average, it takes another 45 seconds to repeat the identification process. To the member, and as we have all likely encountered this experience know firsthand, it is annoying. But it also costs the contact center money – at the expense of your Member Service Representative’s (MSRs) time, at the expense of member satisfaction, and for any associated telephone charges.

Arkansas Federal Credit Union encourages members to self-identify through their phone system so MSRs know who is on the line immediately as calls come through. Member identifying information is then delivered to the desktop of the MSR taking the call and passed with any transfers that are made, eliminating the need for members to provide identifying information after transfers. This gives the MSR’s more time to service the member, making the contact more productive for both MSRs and members, and has helped Arkansas Federal put $40M of increased loans through their call center without increasing the number of MSRs.

Stuck in the IVR Abyss
While auto-attendants, or IVR’s, have offered significant cost savings to many credit unions, they are probably the single most disliked service in any contact center.

CallCenter magazine (callcenter.co.uk) reported in 2004:

•         77% of consumers claim to be “unhappy” to receive an automated response
•         50% being “very unhappy” with “endless menu mazes”
•         33% say they would consider changing their supplier as a result of the way the call was handled including being held on the line for too long

Good IVR script design is crucial to acceptance and satisfactory use by your member base. This means using industry best practices to ensure members quickly get what they want and always have the option to talk to an agent. There are a great number of ways to make the IVR a valuable service to members and to your organization. Delivering specific messages via the IVR based on the identity of the customer can help you create new business, while offering beneficial services to members. For example, if a member’s loan is about to expire, offer an option for the member to speak to an MSR about a new loan via the IVR.

Mixed Communication Channels
Few people today will use only one channel to communicate with their credit union, and that trend is increasing as the population becomes more comfortable with electronic communication. E-mail and Web chat are already becoming significant forms of communication in many industries, but often credit unions make the assumption that their “members are different and don’t want to use e-mail…” That may be the case, but is it because of the way their e-mail inquiries are handled? If a member e-mails you today asking for information on a loan, is it handled with the same speed as a phone call? Or do you have one person on staff to pick up the e-mail once or twice a day before routing to the right person?

This type of inquiry handling does not encourage members to use this convenient, lower-cost method of communication. Other industries now promote e-mail and online communications as the fastest way to get in touch with them. For credit unions, it may not always make sense to go that far, but blending e-mail with the voice calls in real-time for delivery to MSRs, and using business rules to dictate to whom the e-mails are automatically routed are sure to increase the use of this significantly less expensive channel.

For more information on effective call center communications, register for an upcoming FREE, 1-hour online seminar. “Best Practices in Call Center Communications: 7 Steps for Great Service” will be offered September 8 at 10:00 AM Central Time. Visit www.apropos.com now for details on this and other online events or to complete your free registration.



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