Call Center Digital Transformation Trends for CUs

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In a credit union call center, digital transformation can mean the difference between struggling with long hold times and frustrated members vs. having a streamlined way to provide exceptional service on every call. With the steep increase in call volume in recent years, the contact center is a prime target for technology initiatives. 

HERE’S A LOOK AT SOME CALL CENTER DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TRENDS ON THE RISE

#1 EXPANDED SELF-SERVICE

TTEC, a CXaaS provider, highlights the necessity of elevated self-service in their article on future-proofing contact center operations. “Massive effort was needed to support urgent needs in every industry when the pandemic hit. The triaging of labor resources to emergency issues made self-service essential to help deflect call volumes. Smart IVRs, online FAQs, automated chatbots and enhanced knowledge bases became key call deflection solutions. These deflection solutions freed up agents for invaluable work that required more attention, thoughtfulness and empathy.” 

Software innovators such as Posh Technologiesare rising to this challenge with Conversational AI IVR that responds to credit union members and bank customers in natural conversation and addresses common requests. For example, their web & digital banking concierges can answer FAQs, route callers to live chat, and more.

#2 OMNICHANNEL EXPECTATIONS

Call centers are using more channels than ever to serve customers. According to Statista, 54% of contact centers reported increased use of live chat during the COVID19 pandemic, while 35% implemented this technology for the first time. Expectations regarding the ease of the omnichannel experience are high, with customers anticipating that they can shift between chat and phone without having to repeat themselves. 

While chatbots and live chat are increasingly popular options for the financial sector, it’s important not to miss another critical channel: social media. While credit union members (hopefully) won’t be asking for sensitive account information via Facebook messenger, they may have more general questions that can be answered through such a channel. 

According to Nola Automation, “Consumers now prefer interacting with their favorite brands through social media platforms, making it another service channel. They provide feedback and address issues on social media, which makes it extremely important for brands to provide good customer service on social media.” Banks and credit unions would do well to pay attention to this important channel, since it is easy for customers or members to leave a public review immediately after an interaction on a social media platform. 

#3 REMOTE WORK ENABLEMENT

The Financial Brand reported recent findings from Gartner revealing that 3 out of 4 workers had a substantial change in the skills required for their jobs in the past few years. The environment in which work is performed has also shifted, with 60% of employees in financial service roles still working in remote or hybrid models. 

“While the shift to digital banking and the use of new technologies are driving the need for new skills, many of the new careers will require soft skills, not just hard skills. ‘Financial institutions need employees who can collaborate, innovate, adapt, and persevere through business disruption.’ Gartner states.”

The workforce focused side of digital transformation in call centers includes providing tools and technology that enables remote work without a drop in productivity or quality of service. This trend could include automating call transcription and providing virtual coaching for agents.

#4 AUTOMATION AND AI

According to Customer Think in their article, “2022 Trends: Discover the Future of Call Centers”, automation will be leveraged more and more to augment services available from live agents. “Call centers can leverage AI to streamline internal processes, remove the burden of mind-numbing repeat actions, and empower agents to focus their energy on more strategic or complex activities. Automation also cuts costs and drives consistency, speed, and scalability to business processes.”

For credit unions, the ability to focus on a better member experience is a strong motivator to provide automation as support for agents. According to Michael D’Onofrio in his article for Credit Union Times, “81% (of bankers) believe that financial institutions will differentiate on the customer experience, rather than products, in the years ahead.”

#5 INSIGHT FROM ANALYTICS

While certainly not a new tool for contact centers, analytics will feature even more prominently in digital transformation because it helps drive decisions about what needs to transform and why. Predictive analytics help call centers be more flexible and resilient in a disrupted market while pointing to areas where customer/member experience can be enhanced. 

For example, a recent innovation featured by EFMA/Accenture explores the use of Link Analysis to predict what a caller is likely to inquire about next based on their previous call history. “An exploratory data analysis reveals that customers calling for specific reason with high linkage to another reason, have a high likelihood to call again for the linked reason.…For instance, there were 7000+ cases where customers who called for enquiring about their Credit Card Payment, called again in the next 7 weeks to enquire for Credit Card Installment.”

The innovators for this concept reason that proactive communication to customers would preempt the need for this future call. This approach would reduce call volume for the contact center while providing superior service by anticipating customer needs. Ultimately, analytics can assist in driving better communication, anticipating caller needs, and reducing operational costs. 

#6 TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIPS

For call centers in historically underserved market segments (such as credit unions and smaller community banks), capturing the benefits of call center digital transformation often means taking a stake in tech innovation. 

Kate Larson, writing for Filine.org, speaks to this trend with the following advice. “Credit unions may also need to adopt a more flexible and agile approach to partnerships, seeking to partner with a variety of companies—including fintechs—to fill gaps in the digital member experience. While some credit unions may themselves develop new technologies, most credit unions should not aim to be industry leaders in technology, but rather fast followers, partnering wherever possible to speed the delivery of new features to members.” 

The process of choosing the right partnership does require thought and planning. For call center digital transformation in the financial sector, areas to address are security, privacy, and compliance. 

WHY IS A BETTER CREDIT UNION CONTACT CENTER EXPERIENCE CRITICAL?

The gap between members’ preferred experience and what they actually receive is far too wide. Even with the convenience of chat and other communication channels for online banking, almost 70% of people prefer to speak to an agent on the phone when they need help (according to the 2021 TCN Survey “Consumer Insights about Customer Service.”) However, waiting for a live agent takes too long.

  • 6 Minutes – This is how long the average consumer is willing to spend on hold
  • 17 Minutes – This is the average hold time in a contact center queue

If there aren’t enough agents to answer the phone and resolve member questions and requests in a timely manner, that’s a problem. With talent shortages hitting the contact center hard, technology is the obvious choice for boosting productivity and shortening average wait and call handle times. 

HOW IS ILLUMA DOING ITS PART FOR CALL CENTER DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION? 

We’re helping credit unions and community banks leverage the power of voice authentication to drive better member experience, tighter account security, and more cost-effective operations. Contact our team to learn more. 

Article by Illuma Labs, a provider of CUNA Strategic Services, a California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues business partner.