BY GENE PRANGER
A frazzled mom drops by the credit union to apply for a car loan. Her 4-year-old twins race across the room and loot the lollipops. She shrieks as one of them smashes a snow globe.
The trailblazing team at Pioneer Federal Credit Union in Mountain Home, Idaho, can chuckle at chaotic scenes like this. Instead of making everybody cram into the branch, Pioneer offers mobile video banking with the help of POPin Video Banking Collaboration. Through the platform, members can use their smartphones to check account balances, change PINs, apply for loans, sign documents, transfer money, and more—all from the comfort of their living rooms.
“It’s so fun to watch them on-screen while you’re helping and know their kids are happy and it’s a stress-free transaction,” says Tracey Miller, Vice President of Branch Operations for Pioneer Federal Credit Union.
Mobile video is the future of banking, and the future is now. Two-thirds of Americans rely on digital banking as their primary channel, according to an American Bankers Association survey conducted last year. Mobile banking is also accelerating among millennials, showing that traditional branches must continue to evolve to serve members on their terms.
“The fact that we can service the hours we do at a credit union our size is pretty remarkable,” Miller says. “Our members have really become accustomed to the convenience.”
Miller recounts how a Spanish-speaking member recently visited the branch, but Pioneer didn’t have a Spanish speaker on duty. No matter—the teller used her own phone to contact somebody in the video call center who spoke Spanish and was able to provide immediate assistance.
“The member was absolutely blown away,” Miller says. “Now he knows he doesn’t have to come into the branch. He can reach a Spanish speaker on his phone. The mobile video platform has made it so much easier for our members, and it’s made it easier for our staff, too.”
Miller expected millennials and military members to embrace this exciting new technology. But she was surprised to also hear from elderly members, who cherish the ability to handle their banking from home and would rather not have to ask for rides to the branch. After the introduction of POPin, Miller recalls one such member commenting on her renewed independence, saying, “You’ve given me my life back.
Making It Easy for Your Members to Do Business With You
Not only does a mobile video platform enhance the customer experience, but it also increases sales, claims Luke Campbell, Vice President of Sales and Service at Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union in Dallas, Texas.
Campbell remembers how his team once lost loans because they struggled to collect the necessary documents. Often, the fax machine malfunctioned or members forgot to email the right attachments. But the POPin mobile video banking platform allows his employees to capture signatures on the spot and confirm that they have all the paperwork.
“I want to unplug the fax machine,” Campbell says. “I don’t want to use it anymore.”
Southwest has already made much bolder moves than unplugging the fax machine. The credit union closed its Houston branch when it realized it could service those members more efficiently through a digital branch structure, allowing it to cover far more ground while controlling costs. Even though Southwest now only operates one branch in Dallas, its team serves Kroger grocery stores and affiliates across Texas and Louisiana.
“We don’t have a big physical footprint,” Campbell says. “But we feel that our digital footprint is huge and there are no limits to what we can do with that.”
Implementing Mobile Video With Existing Budgets and Teams
Many credit union executives and branch managers know the benefits of video banking, thanks to the proliferation of Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), pioneered by uGenius in 2008. But some still fear they can’t afford to invest in the technology, given ITMs can cost $100,000 per machine. Others worry they won’t be able to staff their video call centers to handle the demand.
But Pioneer’s Tracey Miller says her mobile video banking platform, which cost considerably less than an ITM, was so affordable and easy to use that it never raised any concerns with her CEO or board.
“There was no hesitation from a cost standpoint,” she says. “It’s very, very easy to meet ROI on this, and exceed it, because you are opening up so many different channels. We track all of it and we’ve seen the advantages. The price wasn’t even a blip on our radar.”
Miller’s team was off and running immediately because she already had a video call center handling requests from her ITMs. As more of the credit union’s members have adopted digital banking, she has increased her video staff. Miller recommends starting with a soft launch and throttling demand by initially limiting the number of products and services you offer over video.
“Make sure you have a strategic plan for how fast this can grow or how you’re going to control the volume for your deployment,” she says.
Pioneer’s transition to mobile video went smoothly in part because the POPin team helped Miller’s crew build its workflows on the platform.
“It truly felt like one team working toward the same strategic plan and the same vision,” she says.
Miller also recommends that you market your new technology internally to employees. You need to show them the vision for how mobile video can improve the customer experience and help them reach their goals. She adds that it is equally important to make your members feel comfortable using the platform.
“The first touch is the scariest touch,” Miller notes, but once people try the app, they love it and they’re hooked.”
After all, your members don’t have to be mothers of restless toddlers to recognize the advantages of doing their banking on their smartphones and tablets. Most of them appreciate face-to-face customer service no matter where life takes them.
“If you want to come see us at the branch, we’re happy to be there,” Miller says. “However, we want you to do it at your convenience. That one day that you’re on vacation, and you can’t get to this branch, and your debit card isn’t working, pick up this app. We’ll make sure that your card is working, so your vacation isn’t interrupted.”