A basic premise of the credit union call center is that it acts as a conduit to connect members to live agents. Whether the connection is through an inbound call or a targeted outbound campaign, the ultimate goal — to spur a live conversation between a member and a credit union employee — is the same. That premise, however, is shifting. New technical solutions allow credit unions to ask: “How do we provide the greatest level of member service without increasing staff?”
Virtual agents offer one solution that, if used properly, can improve customer service and enhance the relationship between a credit union and its members. A virtual agent is a computer-generated voice coupled with an automated outbound call system that can replace live agents in certain call scenarios. For example, if a member wants to be notified if interest rates drop to a level at which it makes sense for him or to refinance their house, then the virtual agent is a perfect application. Even the most diligent loan officer is likely to have trouble keeping up with requests for calls triggered by events such as a target interest rate. Call center software, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to initiate calls based on an interest rate, CD maturity date, or any number of specified criteria.
Calls do not have to be entirely computer generated. Call center software can initiate the call and then transfer the connected call to a live agent. In the case of member notifications, however, it often makes sense to use a virtual agent to complete an automated call. This leaves live agents free to focus on more complex member issues.
Research shows credit unions are increasing revenue by implementing or upgrading technically sophisticated call centers. Indeed, most credit unions already have robust IVR systems that allow members to serve themselves when they call. It is only in recent years, however, that the cost of combining IVR with an outbound dialing system has decreased enough to make virtual agents a viable option.
Systems such as Infratel’s Infra Call Center offer cost-effective solutions that are creating new opportunities for credit unions to meet the business and personal banking needs of their members. In older solutions, inbound and outbound calls are handled by separate systems. All-in-one solutions, such as Infra Call Center, open up new opportunities to connect credit unions with their members. If automated, outbound calling was too cumbersome to implement the last time you looked, now is an excellent time to look again.