Credit union call centers are between a rock and a hard place. They recognize the need to raise their standards of service in response to growing competition and heightened member expectations. Yet they are often small and lack the resources to implement “best-in-class” technologies and the business processes to go with them.
In partnership with CUANM, we launched an initiative to help credit unions get out of the tight squeeze and improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness. The starting point for this effort was a credit union contact center benchmarking survey to assess the state of the industry.
Our Leadership Circle consisted of 119 credit unions from 34 states and 2 provinces. Their assets ranged from $27 million to $8 billion with membership from 8,400 to 736,218. They each provided input on a variety of aspects of their operations:
- Strategy—including challenges and priorities
- Contact Handling—including the roles of the center and other departments
- Support Functions—including quality and workforce planning
- Training—new-hires and ongoing
- Technology—from core systems to contact center-specific technology
- Credit Union Call Center Metrics—actual and targets across a range of media
- A variety of other areas such as home agents, hours of operation and use of third-party services
We published the final report in September 2016, which includes a rich set of graphics and insights on credit union contact center best practices, trends and gaps. We also provided guidance on where to focus energy and investments to improve member experience.
Not surprisingly, the top challenges faced by credit union contacts centers relate to workload and performance, reflecting increasing volume, long handle times and difficulty answering contacts in a timely manner. Staffing issues contribute to the problems, with attrition, adherence and budgetary constraints presenting significant challenges.
The top priorities for the coming year included training, coaching, technology (self-service and performance tools), hiring and process improvement. These priorities can directly target the top challenges, helping reduce workload and improve agent performance.
Developments in cloud-based contact center technology can be a boon for smaller centers. Vendors provide robust solutions and the associated support services at a cost that even the tightest budget could accommodate. That being said, credit union contact centers still need to invest the time and energy to leverage the technology appropriately to meet their business goals and member expectations. And, of course, they’ll need the right support resources to continue to leverage this investment.
We look forward to expanding our Leadership Circle as we continue to build this network of mutual support. Survey updates will provide a means to track changes and challenges as credit unions and their contact centers evolve.
For more information, or if you are interested in purchasing a copy of this report, visit www.strategiccontact.com/cusurvey.