Credit unions are unique, because by definition, they are by and for their members. They have always prioritized providing an exceptional service and building personal relationships with their members. However, what constitutes an exceptional experience is quickly evolving as expectations change.
At a time when everyone is more connected than ever with smartphones and virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, people have come to expect the same level of sophisticated technology from their financial institutions that they use in their personal lives. Today, that means getting any information they need or service they require on any device immediately at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t have time to jump on the phone and they certainly don’t have time to wait on hold. They want a consistent, personalized experience that delivers the results they want quickly.
In short, credit unions need to offer digital tools as part of their member service experience.
Consumers, especially from the younger Gen Z and Millennial generations, are increasingly opting for self-service options in daily transactions and will turn to financial institutions that can offer the same capabilities. Despite this shift, credit union members still want to receive the same white-glove service they would receive in-person, with the speed and convenience of online banking. They want options that allow them to self-service and operate independently, with the knowledge that the support of a fully informed and empowered customer service team is there behind the scenes to provide answers and resolve requests that need a human touch.
So many businesses, from retail to hospitality, are struggling to create exceptional customer experiences as consumers demand convenience and immediacy. Simply put, delivering this level of service often comes at a high cost for companies, especially those with service teams that are not armed with the necessary tools. This is especially the case with credit unions, which have historically been hyper-focused on differentiating on member experience and truly understanding their member bases. As big banks have implemented new, cutting-edge technologies, however, this point of differentiation has been diluted.
Today, credit unions have the opportunity to take this advantage back. The key? AI.
Improving Customer Experience with AI
Artificial intelligence powered technologies, like chatbots, provide the necessary capabilities to support the new generation of service expectations and enable credit unions to serve thousands of members at once without putting anyone on hold. These digital engagement tools also give credit unions the ability to provide service at scale as credit union membership continues to grow and fight back against big banks that, according to J.D. Power, are closing the satisfaction gap with smaller competitors.
AI helps credit unions shape a customer experience that exceeds expectations and allows them to remain competitive by eliminating friction and personalizing each member experience. By putting AI behind a static customer service page, such as the FAQ page, customers can engage with a bot at any hour of the day to ask their questions. When engaged, the chatbot taps into its extensive knowledge base, which is constantly updating as more data is pulled in from customer interactions, to answer questions. This removes the frustration that would occur for a member when navigating around a website unable to find what they’re looking for. Just as valuable, the data from these interactions can be used to better understand most frequently asked questions, points of confusion and new features or offerings people are curious about, so the site can be optimized to be even more member friendly.
Additionally, when a situation requires a human touch, these bots provide behind-the-scenes support for employees – leveraging the same knowledge base to ensure every agent has access to the information necessary to provide each customer with quick, seamless and personalized support. This could be anything from the answer the agent may need or the customer’s support history and preferences. This seamless integration ensures an exceptional customer experience.
Improving the Agent Experience
In addition to acting as an information resource, these bots work behind the scenes to perfectly complement the work of an agent by handling repetitive and mundane tasks and questions. Instead of a customer asking an agent about fees, common policy questions or directions to the closest branch, the bot can handle these inquiries removing the burden from human employees. This not only gives members a 24-hour response window but helps credit unions maximize their service teams’ value by allowing them to focus on higher level issues.
Case in Point
Founded in 1938, Advia Credit Union now serves more than 170,000 members across Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. While Advia has always strived to provide financial advantages by offering the quickest and easiest solutions to its members, rapid growth via mergers and acquisitions led to challenges of accountability in its member servicing. With too many different systems and multiple points of contact, it was hard for members to do business with Advia.
Implementing a third-party live chat solution seemed like a quick and easy fix, but as the amount of live chat inquiries grew, so did the cost of the service, thus generating more tickets for Advia’s in-house member service team to handle. Support calls doubled in volume and the member service team was left frustrated and burnt out. Advia needed to find a solution that improved both the member and agent experience while also embracing the credit union’s philosophy of people helping people.
Advia selected Bold360, an intelligent, AI-powered suite of customer engagement solutions, to transform its member contact center into a multichannel operation. It brought live chat back in-house to boost overall experience, replaced and updated the FAQ section of its website with consistent messaging, and implemented a ticket system through a chatbot for after-hours service. Ava, Advia’ Bold360-powered bot, handles the majority of inbound service requests and provides a concierge type of service for members, especially during those critical situations when mortgage or loan applications may result in various questions. In addition to improving the member experience, Ava drastically improved the agent experience by freeing them up to address more inquiries through various channels such as social media.
The results of the implementation have been astounding. Since the launch of Ava, Advia has experienced:
- A 75% deflection rate of total contact volume for members using Ava
- A 15-second agent speed of answer, resulting in near real-time pickup of the conversation when the conversation transitions from Ava to the agent
- An average handling time of 9:02 minutes for chat sessions, similar to those attained when using the third-party vendor, but with resolution of deeper questions
- An estimated cost savings of more than $400,000 per year by eliminating the third-party vendor
- The ability to centralize member communication into one contact center operation to drive efficiency and consistency
As members evolve, credit unions must use a variety of tools to meet their ever-changing expectations to provide exceptional experiences no matter the time or channel. With the help of AI-powered technologies, credit unions – like Advia – can improve both the customer and employee experience and compete with larger financial institutions well into the future.
Ryan Lester, Senior Director of Customer Engagement Technologies, LogMeIn