Dialed In Call Center Performance Drives Engagement And Growth

Credit unions can improve this department’s member service expectations and help them achieve sales and revenue objectives.




The top factor for enabling future growth is a credit union’s member contact center. Credit unions that perfect the member service experience here lay a foundation for greater success in their sales and relationship building initiatives.  This sounds like a simple enough strategy in theory. But in practice, myriad moving parts must come together to maximize a call center’s true potential. A member who spends more than 10 minutes waiting on hold to speak to a representative about a loan balance question is far less than likely to be receptive to a balance transfer or other offer.

From the perspective of pure service, several elements play into member satisfaction when it comes to interactions with the credit union. First, was their call answered within a reasonable wait time? The definition of reasonable varies – generally 20-30 seconds is optimal. But loyal credit union members will abide a longer wait time, within reason. Second, was the member greeted and treated in a courteous, professional, and friendly manner? The reality is that members can have a bad day and vent over the phone, but your call center representatives can afford no such luxury. Finally, was the member’s request or issue resolved?

A credit union that can answer yes to those three questions is properly positioned to engage and serve its members with additional products and offers. However, if the credit union struggles with basic member service, prospects for successful cross sales will almost surely suffer.

As today’s contact centers morph from service-centric business units into sales and revenue hubs, the challenges in meeting expectations for high member satisfaction levels and revenue growth can be daunting. That’s why credit unions are increasingly turning to call center consulting specialists to diagnose and remedy service issues, as well as help stage the environment required for a winning sales culture.

Strong growth at Citadel Federal Credit Union ($1.8B, Philadelphia, PA) led to increased call volumes and strained the resources of the credit union’s 35 agents, who were also assigned monthly sales goals for specific products. After witnessing longer than usual wait times, higher abandon rates, and lower Net Promoter Score ratings from surveyed members, Citadel turned to PSCU’s Advisors Plus® for an extensive strategic call center review. The call center consultant studied the credit union’s agents, call traffic patterns, staffing model, and call routing methods to ultimately recommend several service and sales improvement strategies:

  • Increase call center capacity by outsourcing support for call overflow
  • Reconfigure the design of the Automated Call Distribution (ACD) system to consolidate the main menu options and support skill-based routing
  • Implement Workforce Management to improve staff forecasting and scheduling
  • Adopt a Knowledgebase system for better  agent access to product information, policies, and procedures

The incremental cost to Citadel for additional staffing to handle call overflow was far exceeded by the value they realized from higher first-call resolution rates, including a 50% reduction in wait times, a 31.5% decrease in abandon rate, a 6% lift in NPS and the ability to focus more attention on sales efforts, rather than the next call in queue.

The position of the call center in the credit union service and sales model cannot be overstated. With mandates to continue a legacy of member service excellence, now held on par with demands for growing product sales, credit unions should rightfully examine the fitness of their call centers to meet both challenges. Analysis by a consultant experienced in the complex issues affecting call center operations can make a huge impact on a credit union’s overall brand value and financial performance.

PSCU is the nation's leading CUSO, serving more than 1,500 financial institutions nationwide. Our full-service solution set includes credit, debit, ATM and prepaid cards; loyalty rewards; electronic banking and online bill payment; mobile banking; and 24/7/365 contact center services and strategic consulting solutions that deliver growth, retention and loyalty.



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May 7, 2012


  • The article raises some good points and highlights some of the challenges CU can face in the their call center. Completing an audit or assessment using an experienced consultant should result in meaningful and tangible improvements in Customer satisfactio (CSAT), NPS, employee engagment while increasing productivity and reducing costs.
    Colin Taylor