Developing a More Member-Centric Credit Union

Credit unions find themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Learn what Arkansas FCU did to differentiate themselves and deliver a superior customer experience.


The Competitive Challenge Facing Credit Unions

Credit unions find themselves in an increasingly competitive and challenging marketplace. Industry deregulation, increased competition from new entrants into the marketplace, renewed pressure from commercial banks, challenging economic conditions, and other factors have complicated member acquisition and retention beyond anything credit unions could have envisioned even a few years ago. The ability to deliver a highly satisfying member experience is key to acquiring and retaining member relationships in this new era of financial services competition.

Differentiating by Becoming More "Member-Centric"

One of the most effective ways of maintaining and growing a strong business is to become more "member-centric" through superior member service or a superior member experience. In many ways, the level of service provided to its members defines a credit union. Ensuring that every member contact is treated as an opportunity for superior service will, over time, result in high levels of member retention, increased investment by members, and the acquisition of new members through ever-increasing word-of-mouth referrals.

How can a credit union optimize member contacts? First, it is important to continually gather information on how efficiently and how well contacts are handled. Since the majority of member communications are managed and controlled through the credit union's member service center, it is highly beneficial to provide a system that tracks key metrics such as hold times, call abandonment rates, service rep talk times, e-mail response times, and so on.

This data can then be used to determine adjustments to any desired level of service. Having a solution that helps manage, control, and optimize the center's responsiveness will have a great impact on the credit union's quest for superior service and ever-growing membership roles.

What is often overlooked is that a member interaction begins when the member first decides to contact the service center. Credit unions can improve the quality and efficiency of the member contact experience while lowering costs and creating a very real service differentiator by:

  • Offering a choice of contact method, including calls, e-mail, fax, and web-enabled text messaging
  • Providing self-service options for members
  • Using intelligent routing to get the contact to exactly the right service representative the first time
  • Prioritizing contacts based on the member's history

Case Study: Arkansas Federal Credit Union

Arkansas Federal Credit Union (AFCU) wanted to increase its "member-centricity." Management's primary concern was the high percentage of abandoned calls. They implemented a full multi-channel system with software-based Automatic Call Distribution and Interactive Voice Response controls for call center communication. AFCU initially lowered its abandoned call rate from a high of 15 percent to less than 9 percent. Continuing efforts have driven the abandoned call below 5 percent every month for the past two and a half years.

The system's communication management, voicemail self-service and automatic callback options immediately reduced abandoned calls. The system retains the call records of members choosing to abandon their call. An outbound-call interaction is managed in the queue as if the caller had not abandoned the call. The system automatically calls the member back and connects the member with an agent when the interaction is taken.

AFCU Executive Vice President Craig Savell says that, as a general rule, no member is allowed to remain in queue for longer than 60 seconds without some type of alternative resolution being offered. "The communication management capabilities of the system help us routinely meet that goal," he notes.

The system handles all types of interactions (voice, e-mail, voicemail, fax, web chat) using a universal queue. This enables the contact center to prioritize member interactions according to their business value, regardless of which method a member uses to contact AFCU. Every interaction can be queued and prioritized based on rules set by AFCU.

The system is also fully compatible with AFCU's current data and voice infrastructures and supports their future plans. "The deployment went very smoothly and was possibly the best I've seen in the way it easily integrated with our existing voice and data systems," said Savell.

AFCU, utilizing solutions from Apropos Technology, rose to the challenge of providing superior member service through the use of technology that helped it meet its member service goals, and as a consequence, drive its membership rolls.

Apropos Technology, Inc. develops and markets one of the industry's leading business communications platforms, providing an open, system independent application suite for real time, multi-channel interaction management. Additional information about Apropos and its products for Credit Unions can be found at




Sept. 6, 2004



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