(Frank Kovach, Director, AdvisorsPlus Strategic Consulting, PSCU Financial Services, Keith Malbrue, Chief Operating Officer, Affinity Plus FCU, Pam Krupansky, VP Retail Banking, Citadel FCU & David Crawford, Call Center Manager, Citadel FCU)
In today’s competitive financial services environment, the Call Center plays a critical role in extending the credit union’s brand and identity to its current and prospective members. As more consumers shop their financial needs to a wider array of institutions, the service and quality impressions left by the Call Center can mean the difference between gaining and retaining valued members or losing them to a competitor. In a recent survey, 92% of respondents stated the Call Center experience influenced their image of the company.
Two key challenges facing today’s credit union Call Centers are staffing flexibility and employee engagement. The majority of credit union Call Centers are manned by full time agents, whereas the peaks and valleys of incoming call volumes match up better to flexible part timers. To effectively manage staffing within these constraints, it’s important that internal communication and Call Center phone systems are maximized. With every member communication, be it a mailing or website change, members will call in with questions. To manage these increased volumes the Call Center needs to have all the change information in hand before the changes are made and, if possible, have the mailings staggered to decrease chances of large call surges that would overwhelm the staff. Additionally, having a properly designed automated call routing and phone teller system enhances the ability to handle calls in a quick and accurate manner. Another frequently used option is to use a vendor to handle overflow call volume, thereby having an outlet for call surges or staff shortages that maintains key service metrics like answer time and abandon rates.
In the Call Center, effective employee engagement is vital to providing high levels of service that members have come to expect. Your best candidate profile for Call Center agent is someone who has great communication skills, is a team player, and enjoys interacting with and assisting others. Correspondingly, this type of employee thrives on continual interaction with management, empowerment and training opportunities. Having fully engaged employees is a proven asset to any organization and in the Call Center where member interactions are typically the highest direct touch point in your credit union, it is of incalculable value.