We’ll give you three good reasons…
Your credit union – In this economy, more people than ever are turning to credit unions for great service with no or low fees. The rousing success of Bank Transfer Day 2011 and the ensuing unprecedented new growth at your credit union means new members, issues, problems and questions you as a contact center employee will be dealing with. It also means new sales and lending opportunities. The Credit Union Call Center Conference will provide your credit union with innovative, new ways to meet these challenges.
Your members – The members are what your credit union is all about. They are the owners, the customers, the people you answer to. Your members are the number one priority at your call center. The Credit Union Call Center Conference offers insight into your members and how to gain their loyalty.
Your call center – Challenging and often under pressure, your call center is the hub of all the action, fielding calls about every aspect of your credit union every day, all day. The contact center is where members expect you to know it all and get their issues, problems and questions resolved fast. The Call Center Conference offers new strategies and methods for a focused, up-to-date, informed call center.
Here is a sample of what we’ll be discussing at this year’s Credit Union Call Center Conference…
Shifting to Sales – Are You in the Right Gear?
Frank Kovach, Director, Advisors Plus® Consulting
One of the most challenging transformations in call centers today is moving from a purely service-focused structure into one where product sales are an expected and integral part of daily operations. The journey to sales is fraught with tales of frustrated agents, management stress, decreased service levels and missed goals that can ultimately curb sales integration or affect a long-term downtrend in the call center’s ability to meet service demands. In this session, Frank Kovach will share insights from reviewing dozens of credit union call centers and provide a roadmap of best practices to create an effective, high-performance sales team in your call center.
Likely, many of you are now offering up to five different ways for your members to obtain account balances. Yet amazingly, for most credit unions, balance inquiry is still the #1 transaction for call center agents and it still ranks high as a primary reason for many branch visits.
Why is this? Why aren’t members taking greater advantage of self-service options? I believe that they have the perception that it is easier, and they are more likely to get accurate information, if they speak with a live representative.
Is this an accurate view of your organization’s delivery channels? Do channels exist in their own silos of data and processes?
Whether member perception is accurate, or not, the key to changing perceptions is consistency. Consistency in the content of a response and consistency in the delivery of information builds confidence in your institution in the eyes of members and your staff (yes, your staff); and, we all know that confidence and trust is the foundation of any good relationship.
One, employ a single “system of record” approach to organizing data. If there is only one data source used by all channels – self-service as well as live agents – then the information will truly be consistent across the enterprise. When staff can count on the fact that they can easily pull up accurate, up-to-date information (member and product data, transaction histories, etc.) from your system every time they assist a member, they are confident in the service they provide—and that confidence will then be conveyed to members. Not to mention, training staff to use a single system of record is significantly faster and easier.
Two, establish a single process flow for the delivery of information. Regardless of channel, a single process flow can be designed and executed which always moves the interaction through a predefined set of steps (facilitated by the single platform/system of record). This results in a sense of familiarity and comfort with how the information is retrieved and delivered. For example:
- Step 1. Member is greeted in a personalized way
- Step 2. Member is always identified
- Step 3. The reason for the interaction is determined (How can we help you?). And so forth, through fulfillment or determining the next steps that will bring a satisfying close.
The bottom line…the key to achieving consistency is to breakdown the information silos created by disparate technologies and infrastructures and establish uniformity of processes across all of your delivery channels.
Consistency builds comfort and confidence. We all feel better when our expectations are based on experience—and delivering great member experiences with every interaction (face-to-face and self-service) is the name of the game.
“The Credit Union Difference” and “people helping people.” We talk about it all the time but what does it really mean? Credit union call center members deal with situations like this every day so it’s nice to occasionally get some recognition for it.
A member of First Financial Credit Union who spends a lot of time out of state recently found out when he contacted FFCU Member Resource Center employee Bernadette about a stolen card.
Bernadette’s manager Arlene has worked with her for five years.
“She is hard working, very reliable and dependable, and friendly and very member oriented,” Arlene said. “In a call center environment, there is a high stress level, but Bernadette never lets that show to our members. She stays calm and assures members that she will take care of their every need. Being friendly and courteous comes very natural to her and members/employees love her.”
In a stressful situation for the FFCU member, Bernadette took control. In a letter to the credit union about the FFCU member said…
I want to let you know what a wonderful asset you have in an employee of yours. The employee name is Bernadette (MRC Dept Member Resource Center).
In June my CU Card was stolen and several unauthorized charges were on my account. This in itself was devastating to me because it was the beginning of the month and I had rent and other BILL$ due, [and] with the amount that was stolen out of my account I did not know how I was going to make my obligated payments.
First thing Monday morning, I contacted the credit union and the most helpful woman answered the phone. Bernadette, who must have been GOD sent, clearly explained the process and helped me fill out the need paperwork and within a week my account was credited with the stolen money and I was able to make my rent and monthly BILLS.
Bernadette went above and beyond the call of duty, it is people like her that keep me loyal to the credit union. Even if the money would have never been credited back to my account, Bernadette was so helpful that I would have still written this letter of thanks.
So thank you for having such a good employee, who cares about its members. To Bernadette, thank you, thank you, thank you.
All the best from DC.
Assistant to Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-CD3)
Bernadette has been working in the credit union world for more than 14 years as a consumer loan processor, collections and mortgage servicer and describes herself as “passionate” bout member service.
“I am truly committed to member service, team work, and building relationships with my internal and external members. It is easy to possess member service skills; all you need is a positive and helpful attitude. At the end of every phone call, I thank my members for calling. Giving such helpful and positive service gives members a high level of satisfaction. And with satisfaction comes loyal members,” she said.
A guest blog by Margie Gillean, Financial Service Analyst
While the service industry as a whole enjoys revitalization of consumer service values, due to the competition brought on by the current economic stresses; credit unions have by reputation, been the best at developing relationships in financial services. “90% of Executives see Customer Service as crucial to their future – In the same study more than 70% of senior call center executives reveal that their companies fail to meet their customers’ expectations” (Brian consulting, The Taylor Reach Group, Industry Statistics).
What features, functionality, or financial concerns drives your organization’s priorities into and throughout the call center operations? What tools are missing from your arsenal?
As participants prepare to converge into a call center conference where collaboration is anticipated with high expectations, it’s inviting to discover what avenues those expectations explore? There is a good deal of research to be examined and it runs according to size of institution, region of the country, and strategic directives. If your curiosity runs in the same lines as mine, take a few minutes of your time and let’s peek into October and categorize a few of our similar and not so similar situations. These anticipated responses will merit topics in our future round table discussions.
- What concerns do call center managers have?
- Does your supervisor or board inquire about a routine measurement that you would like to know regarding your member/customer calls? [call volume, number of calls, times of calling peaks, days of the week most calls are received, average length of call, or length or service resolution]
- How do you differentiate between call types and call agent skill sets? [ loans, deposits, specialty transactions like IRA, H.S. A. , Retirement or Tax statements, Commercial business lending, coin request, commercial account reporting-insurance, f&S, marketing messages]
- Is there any VIP treatment in your call center issues? [When the CEO or Board members call, supervisory committee members, official family, business executives?]
- Do you have any audit or regulatory issues you are facing today or in the future?
- What objectives for your division are you facing this year? How do you handle cross sales?
- If you could change one thing about your department, what would that be?
- How do you support your agents in the supply of service excellence in your department? [training, tools, scripts, household information, SEG group relative data]
- As a call center manager, what is missing from your tools to support your initiatives, what is the most difficult part of your job today?
- Do you think that remote agents working from home would benefit your organization? What concerns would you have to the contrary?
- Would your organization benefit from screen recordings? Do you work with online account openings, and is seeing the origination of where your online account openings came from a concern for your credit union? Is there anything you would like the call center industry to know about your concerns that are not voiced in any of these questions? Feel free to elaborate.
Share your replies to the previous questions or additional feedback which is appreciated via email to email@example.com aiding the industry with your contributions is vital! Thanks in advance for your courtesy!
Margie Gillean, ITBMC
Financial Service Analyst
“Doing What We Said We Would Do!”
A guest blog from Darryl Flores
SWBC Workforce and Contact Center Professional Service Manager
Unique obstacles befall the small call center and require a unique approach. The small call center, one that employs less than 50 call center representatives, faces a different challenge. In addition the micro call center, one that employs less than 15 call center representatives, also has specific needs. As a result, many credit unions are often left to try and apply the large call center principles to their centers. This can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Often the most prevalent challenges are in the following areas: Knowledge, Roles and Responsibilities, Variance/Accuracy, Efficiency and Escalation.
Frequently, the small call center is born out of necessity. As a result, the call center experience is generally lacking. From IT requirements to benchmarking and establishing customer service level objectives; experience is priceless. Obviously research is key here. Internally, you will need to identify workload drivers (marketing, seasonality, etc.), establish your service level goals that align with your organization’s Mission and communicate your call center’s goals across the organization. Once these items are developed, communication is imperative across ALL aspects of the organization and up and down all levels of the organization. In one way or another all areas either impact or are impacted by the call center.
Allocating Resources for the Small Call Center
Most employees in a call center wear more than one hat—especially in a smaller call center. One person will take on the role of call center supervisor, in addition to the resident call center analyst and scheduler. Call center training also manages quality control and so on. This is great when it comes to cross training in a larger call center but every small call center needs to ensure that call center responsibilities make sense. Should your call center team lead or call center trainer be making copies much of the day? Should your call center representatives be making the phone calls back to customers for additional underwriting requirements? I’d answer no to both of these questions. Consider the cost of the call center representatives and the actual work they are doing in your call center.
Large call centers have the luxury of large numbers…number of calls, call center representatives and support staff to name a few. In addition, they frequently have higher target goals, and lower tolerance for variance. Keep in mind that small call centers cannot expect the same performance or have the luxury of contingencies as larger call centers. As a result, benchmarking performance and variance is crucial from the onset. That’s not to say that the call center can’t set stretch goals but you need to be realistic. A favorite process I have for establishing call center goals and maintaining strong call center operations is the mnemonic device: “EveryBody Seeks To Reap Rewards”
E – Establish It – Establish the call center metrics you want as your call center’s goals
B – Benchmark It – Benchmark the performance of those call center metrics
S – Stretch It – Stretch the call center benchmark to set your goals
T – Track It – Track the benchmark and all other call center metrics
R – Report It – Report the performance ‘across and up and down’ the call center
R – Reward It – Reward meeting the goals in the call center; share it ‘across and up and down’
When it comes to efficiencies and escalation, these can easily be identified through planning and reviewing. With regard to efficiencies: hold process reviews to discover redundant actions, best practices and establish consistent procedures. This will help maximize your small call center’s potential. Additionally, review shift offerings, hours of operation, the approach to part-time employees, overtime and voluntary time off and the overall day-to-day operations of your call center. There is usually something to uncover or improve.
The Escalation Solution in the Call Center
Every call center should have an escalation plan in place to forecast and schedule effectively. The bottom line is to develop a plan to make additional call center resources available to take the inbound calls that have been queuing for an extended period of time. Thresholds and resources need to be identified and communicated “across and up and down” the organization. Also, don’t forget to document your call center’s de-escalation plan.
Unfortunately there are many more details that could be explored in the realm of operating a small call center that can’t be elaborated on in this segment. Hopefully these high level subjects can help in the day-to-day operations of your organization’s call center. Oh and one last, final bit of advice….hire great people! There are a limited amount of them.
Darryl Flores will be among the speakers at the 2011 CU Call Center Conference.
A shameless plug
We’ve asked our presenters and sponsors to tout the Credit Union Call Center Conference from time to time until the event. This is one from Darryl Flores.
As a speaker, I attend many call center conferences throughout the year and have been always impressed with the uniqueness of the event. The content provides actionable information and wisdom to a targeted “industry within an industry”.
I was so impressed from my first year as an attendee that I increased my participation over the next several years to speaker, then to recommending my company become a title sponsor.
Anyone from the novice call center leader to the most experienced executive can gain valuable insight to operating their credit union’s call center in the most efficient, employee engaging and member pleasing manner. You owe it your career to attend!
Workforce and Contact Center Professional Service Manager