In-House or Outsource? Call Center Strategy Gains New Importance

As credit union call centers gain strategic importance, understanding the questions and issues related to call center structuring and managing is a necessary starting point.


Credit unions are constantly looking for opportunities to better meet member needs, deepen current member relationships and develop new ones.  To many, call centers represent just such an opportunity.

Once the decision has been made to move call centers from the back office and make them a cornerstone of a credit union’s marketing and member service strategy, one key question remains: Leave the call center in-house, outsource the service, or some hybrid of the two?

This question evokes legitimate concerns among credit union executives.  Common concerns include:

  • Reduced member service - "no one knows our members better than us"
  • Loss of control - "we can’t hand over control of the member relationship"
  • Reduced expertise - "no one can service our members better than us"
  • Increased expense - "we can do it cheaper"
  • Job loss - "what will happen to me?"

Each concern is understandable and impacts how a credit union structures its call center.  In determining the appropriate solution, however, it is also important to objectively review the credit union’s business strategy and carefully assess the institution’s existing core capabilities.  Part of the review process should include weighing these options:

  • Service levels – what approach will ensure the level and quality of service demanded by members?
  • Costs – what approach will reduce costs or fix the costs to a certain level while achieving the desired service levels?
  • Revenues – what approach can help generate additional revenues through cross-selling and/or improved response rates?
  • Expertise – what approach provides the desired level of expertise on a consistent basis?
  • Capacity – what approach will best guarantee optimal capacity given daily, weekly, or seasonal fluctuations in call center usage? what approach will ensure that management is focusing on its core competencies?

Credit unions’ call center management strategies span the spectrum – many times as the result of the conclusions they reach by asking the aforementioned questions.  The common goal, however, is a quest to find the ideal balance between costs, revenue and quality to ensure quality member service and credit union effectiveness.

Hear different strategies credit unions are using to optimize their call centers on the upcoming webinar Maximizing Your Call Center as a Strategic Resource, brought to you by The Callahan Center for Credit Union Leadership.