A Little Face Time With Your Finances

Video conferencing offers members the right mix of efficiency and personalization.

As technology advances, members expect the most current conveniences available for their financial transactions. Creditunions must learn how to reconcile the personal feel of a neighborhood credit union with the efficiency of a progressive modern financial institution. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union ($5.33B, Live Oak, TX) is one institution that has figured out how to retain the intimate relationships for which credit unions are known while offering the cutting-edge technology members demand.

In September 2006, the credit union introduced video conferencing as a way to add a personal touch to its loan application process. At Randolph-Brooks, lending reps at a central call center are responsiblefor loan decisioning. Members begin the loan process by meeting with a branch representative, who collects the necessary documents and scans them over to a lending rep. The branch rep then guides the member to a video conferencing cubicle, where the member waits for an available lending representative.

The lending rep discusses the terms of the loan with the member and prepares the loan documentation. The branch rep prints the documentation at the branch, gives it to the member to sign, and returnsit to the loan rep. If necessary, the lending rep double-checks the signed documentation before finalizing the loan and dispersing funds.

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The visual [component] makes the difference, says Nancy Glennon, vice president of the consumer lending call center at Randolph-Brooks. Video conferencingalso works well for the lending representative because they are watching the member the body language and the facial expressions to see if they truly understand what is being presented to them. Everybody feels more comfortable.

In the past, the credit union had loan processors and a loan officer at every branch. The centralized call center replaced the need for processors and officers at every location,but the efficiency of lending via phone sacrificed the personal quality of a face-to-face interaction.

Before, it was a matter of using a speaker phone, Glennon says. Now the member can visualize the person they are talking to.

A Change In Procedure

Executives at Randolph-Brooks first began considering video lending in 2005 when, during a staff meeting, an EVP declared Randolph-Brooks should have the branch of thefuture. To accomplish this, though, it needed to implement the newest technology.

We developed a group of individuals who started searching for the newest and greatest thing out there, and video conferencing had just started to be talked about, Glennon says. We researched and tested it, starting with five lending employees who helped develop the process.

As with any change in operating procedure, Randolph-Brooks experienced a transition period with its lending staff. Most employees who tried video conferencing liked it; however, some employeesremained resistant.

I have a couple of employees who do not want to be on the screen, Glennon says. So we grandfathered them in. There is still plenty of work for them.

The credit union hires new employees with the expectation they’ll be working with video technology. For video conferencing, facial expressions are important, so lending representatives who are accustomed to talking solely on the phone must focuson areas of professionalism beyond the way they speak.

When we interview candidates for the position, we look for their facial expressions, Glennon says. When an employee is video conferencing, the member is looking directly at the screen so they see [facial] details even more so thanif they were sitting across a desk.

The credit union must also determine whether potential hires will engage well with members. Candidates must be able to speak well and make eye contact. According to Glennon, good eye contactis one way to gauge whether a candidate will be successful.

If you have someone who is consistently looking down, that is going to be difficult to change for the individual, she said. You want them to be looking straight at you, eye to eye.

How Video Lending Helps The Credit Union

Video conferencing allows credit unions to efficiently process loans while still maintaining personable relationships with members. According to Glennon, Randolph-Brooks saves 1.5employees per branch with video lending.

And as members demand more freedom from brick-and-mortar institutions, video conferencing provides opportunities for the future.

I see the processing of loans changing even more in the next couple of years, Glennon said. Members don’t necessarily want to come to branches. With the technology we have today, members are willing to do business in their workoffice. But the ability to see the person they are speaking to enhances the transaction.

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The Biggest Challenge

Video lending is intended to provide the best service possible, so introducing members to the new system and gaining their acceptance was essential to the project’s success. When Randolph-Brooks initially tested the video lending technology, ithanded out mini ice coolers and gifts to members willing to try out the new process. The credit union then asked members who completed a video loan application to fill out a questionnaire about the experience. Of the members tested, approximately80% were receptive to the new option.

The members who weren’t receptive listed two main concerns: the camera and the location of the representatives.

As applications such as Skype and FaceTime make video communication more prevalent, the problem of camera shyness becomes less of a concern. And for the second factor, members want reassurance that even though they are using video conferencing, the staffis still local.

In the beginning, members who were not comfortable with the new process could continue to use the speakerphone. Today, all but five of Randolph-Brooks’ 42 branches are lending through video conferencing.

Once members experienced it, they truly liked it, Glennon says. It was getting them over that hump of the unknown. Our members are forever giving virtual handshakes and we’ve had members blow kisses to our reps. That makes itfun.

June 6, 2014

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