For many credit unions, the call center is a critical component of day-to-day operations. The call center is responsible for fielding much of the external contact with members. The call center also plays a large role in member satisfaction and in the cross selling of products and services. The volume and diversity of the call center’s tasks has made call center efficiency an issue that credit unions are increasingly focused on.
One credit union that has taken an active approach to increasing the efficiency of its call center is Bethpage Credit Union. Over the last few years Bethpage has attempted to bring call center operations to the forefront of their business model.
Taking Steps to Influence Performance Metrics
A first step in improving call center results was adjusting the focus of their performance indicators. Rather than focusing exclusively on the number of calls received, Bethpage turned its focus towards service level and quality, while simultaneously looking at decreasing the number of abandoned calls.
Previous Key Performance Indicators
- Abandon Rate
- Agent Calls or Loan Applications per hour
- Agent Availability
Updated Key Performance Indicators
- Service Level
- Abandon Rate
- Agent Adherence
After determining the benchmarks, Bethpage then raised their visibility by posting them on a company dashboard. “Setting up a corporate dashboard brought the information to the front. Every morning everyone from our CEO on down could see these numbers and how they changed on a day to day basis,” says Laurie Elliot, AVP of Member Services. Using this method call center representatives could see the direct impact that their previous day had on the metrics being measured.
Another method employed by Bethpage in an effort to increase focus on quality in their call center was the implementation of the employee scorecard program. Under this program, employees had the ability to monitor their own performance and directly correlate it to the overall performance of Bethpage, which also had a company-wide scorecard. Viewing this information gave the call center representatives a renewed sense of the importance their role holds for the overall organization. This highlighted effect was a healthy motivator for the employees to increase their focus on the services they provide.
One additional step that Bethpage took to ensure the success of their initiative was the strengthening of the quality assurance program. Bethpage began by not only increasing the number of monitored calls per month, but also by updating their monitoring technology to add live screen monitoring during the call. This new information allowed quality assurance staff to provide feedback and critiques that were more specific and actionable to the customer service representatives.
The New Methods Pay Off
After implementing these new processes, Bethpage began to compare the recently collected performance metrics to their past performance. Although the process showed minimal immediate results, after a few months of implementation they were headed in the direction they desired. By the time the program had hit its one-year mark, Bethpage had reduced their abandon rate from 5.9% to 2.3%. Bethpage also decreased the average speed of answer by 30 seconds, from 51 seconds down to 21 seconds. Both of these performance metrics were achieved without a loss in service level. In fact, the average service level figures for Bethpage during the time actually showed an increase. Another benefit of this process came not from the member perspective, but from the employee perspective. According to an employee survey, call center representatives experienced increased job satisfaction and maintained a below average attrition rate when compared to the industry.