Credit unions must adapt tech-tool advances

by admin

As the growth and ubiquity of tech tools in the financial services industry continue to rise, credit unions are quickly adapting to a wider and more varied landscape of consumer interaction and self-service.

Add to that the fact that the millennial generation – likely the most studied generation to date and over 80 million strong, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics – is technically savvy. A wired, connected world is all that millennials have ever known.

What this means for the financial services industry is that interactive technologies must, as Jake Wobbrock, writing for Wired notes, provide “the most usable, self-guided, hiccup-free, efficient user experiences in history.” Further, he notes, providing this particular demographic with efficient and intuitive user experiences isn’t just a matter of appeasing them, it’s “a necessity for the health of any … business’s bottom line. Industry research indicates that, by 2017, the millennial generation will comprise the largest online audience and will have more buying power than any other generation that has come before it.”

But the kind of mind-set that drives the desire and necessity for the brand of instantaneous, intuitive and engaging member-facing experience goes beyond this particular demographic. Art Papas, writing for Fortune, notes that “the so-called ‘millennial’ has become more than a demographic age group; it is a mind-set. A way of looking at the world and, regardless of age, declaring, ‘there has to be a better way.’”

Marketing and public relations professionals, CEOs, CFOs and many others in the industry are now keenly aware of this fact. “Members are experiencing an increasing array of channel choices everywhere they interact, setting the bar ever higher for what the CU must offer,” said Lori Bocklund, founder and president of Strategic Contact (a consulting firm that assists organizations with optimizing the value of their contact center technology and operations), adding “they want to use their mobile devices and the Web, self-serve when it makes sense, and easily get to knowledgeable, readily available assistance when needed.”

Further, Bocklund notes that “technology advances enable serving diverse channels – for both self-service and assisted service – and do so in a seamless, integrated (or “omni-channel”) fashion, with contact history and cross-channel information available to optimize the member experience” – one of the many reasons Bocklund’s firm is conducting a survey to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of credit union contact centers. These advances, then, are crucial to a sustained, convenient and efficient member-service platform for credit unions at large.

Amy Vigil, executive director of the Credit Union Call Center Conference, points out that today’s credit union call centers must necessarily focus on “meeting the members’ choice of access to their financial needs.” As such, unlike the technology born out of the 1990s and the early days of the 21st century, the emerging technology adapts to humans, rather than forcing humans to adapt to it. In response to this technological sea change, credit union call centers “now utilize chat, video chat, email, auto dial-back, mobile apps, websites and on-hold queues to manage member communications and 24/7 overflow coverage,” said Vigil.

Bocklund further noted that, while members will still walk into a branch and use ATMs, the stage is set by an increasingly tech-heavy landscape, within which the contact center must play an increasingly important role in meeting member expectations, and the ability to deliver timely and efficient member service.

As consumer and member needs continue to evolve, so too will the technology we utilize to take on the daily tasks and responsibilities we all bow to and the ability to consistently examine the tech behavior of our credit union members gives us the power to evolve with this critical evolution. And, in the end, isn’t convenience and efficiency the “name of the game” when it comes to meeting member needs?

NAME: Michael Barrio
TITLE: Director of Public Affairs
ORGANIZATION: Leverage Point