Using Technology to Provide Unified Member Care: If it doesn't work together, it doesn't work




Members have many choices for getting support. They can go into a branch, use the phone, email you or go to your Web site. Each support channel affords members with different advantages and it’s hard to imagine any going away. One thing that is certain is that when members get support from different channels and staff, they expect consistent, accurate and prompt responses, and they certainly do not want to repeat themselves. Credit unions want the same thing, but can only provide this type of support if they have the proper systems infrastructure in place.

What’s at stake?

Member satisfaction and ultimately their loyalty are directly tied to the customer service they experience. If your web-site does not provide members with a viable, 7x24 support alternative, and if they do not receive consistent, high-quality support across all staff and channels, many will find a financial institution that does. To remain competitive long term, you absolutely must have the technology and people in place that are capable of earning member loyalty every day and with every encounter.

Getting Started

The effort to create a totally seamless support experience across all your channels is large and is best addressed by incrementally implementing relevant components. Let’s break down some of the primary components. These components may be referred to using different names and may be delivered using a single product or by integrating products from multiple vendors. It is vital, however, that all the components work seamlessly together to create a uniform support experience for your members.

Member Care Components:

Knowledge Base: Central to any member care strategy is a knowledge base. A knowledge base (KB) should be extended to members through your Web site, and to your staff through your core system and intranet, providing everyone with a single place to quickly search for information. Since Public and Private information should exist in a single KB, facilities must be provided to easily define who can see what. Members can use the knowledge base 7x24 to help themselves. Staff can use the knowledge base when helping members or when completing any internal task. The information accessible through the knowledge base may be in the form of Q&As or files (e.g. Word documents, web pages, PDFs) located within or outside the KB. All staff should easily create draft KB content individually or collaboratively, and sufficient editorial controls must be provided to ensure adequate levels of approvals are required before the content is made accessible; the extent of controls depending on the nature of the data and its intended audience. The knowledge base will serve as a foundation for much of your member care technology and therefore must be architected to scale as you advance your member care strategies.

Alerts: Alerts allow members and staff to be notified of new or updated information they care about. Alerts can relate to your knowledge base (KB alerts) and notify users of changes or additions to it. Alerts can also be used to notify members about marketing promotions, paychecks being deposited, or account balances dropping below a desired threshold. Alert notifications are generally sent by email and can be directed to a computer or phone. Alerts should be grouped together so as not to inundate the user with multiple daily notifications.

Email and Online Forms Management: No matter how good your knowledge base becomes at answering questions, you will need to provide members and staff with a highly-managed method to request assisted-service. In cases where the user does not require an immediate answer, email and online forms will meet this need. However, the assisted-service channel must be highly-managed and provide accurate and consistent responses that meets the current market standard of 4 business hours or less. This component must be tightly coupled with your knowledge base and provide the necessary backend systems infrastructure to ensure that you can cost-effectively deliver within service expectations.

Chat: There are instances when it is not practical for a member or staff to pick up the phone or wait four business hours for an answer via email if they are unable to find the desired information in the knowledge base. For example, when a member completes a loan or membership application, chat can provide immediate support and can make the difference between the member completing the transaction with you or leaving for your competitor. Voice over IP (VOIP), allowing members to talk with you using their computer, will continue to evolve and provide another method for members to get this immediate support while online. Chat, however, will likely be the preferred choice for many, especially for younger generations already accustomed to using their phone and computer for text messaging.

Contact Management: This component facilitates personalized support and continuity across your support channels by providing a comprehensive view of all support interactions that have occurred from any of your support channels. All self-service and assisted-service support provided though your web site are automatically captured, and interactions via the phone or in person are manually captured by staff as warranted. Example interactions that may warrant the effort of manual capture include situations when follow-up is required to resolve the inquiry, when feedback is provided, and when the inquiry indicates a potential interest in a product or service.

Feedback Management: Proactively capturing, disseminating and taking action on member and staff feedback is critical for any organization to be successful, and credit unions have an advantage since members are often more than willing to provide feedback if they believe that it will get to staff with the authority to do something about it. Feedback is similar to other types of member inquiries, but it requires special handling and visibility within your credit union. In particular, members should be able to easily provide feedback online (anonymously, if desired) or to staff in-person or over the phone. Based on the type of feedback provided, appropriate staff should be automatically sent the feedback and any required follow-up action tracked. Reporting should also allow you to evaluate all feedback in aggregate.

Usage Analytics: Other than the business that members have actually done with your credit union, what do you know about them? Most likely, the answer is not much, and it’s not because the insights aren’t available but rather because they are just not captured and leveraged. Every time a member views personal finance content, uses a calculator, reviews information about your products or services, sets an alert, asks a question via the web, or otherwise indicates an interest in your products and services from any channel, you have the opportunity to gain valuable insights about individual members and your membership in aggregate. This component allows you to capture and leverage these rich member insights.

Campaign Management: This component takes in the rich member insights captured during the support process, facilitating direct marketing campaigns to members. MCIF information may also be brought to bear here. Campaign Management solutions can deal with email and direct mail campaigns and are readily available from several vendors in licensed (on your servers) and hosted (on vendors’ servers) versions. Email campaigns can be very cost effective, costing less than 1 cent per email.

Conclusion: A thoughtful member care strategy that utilizes the right technology can differentiate your credit union, but it all has to work together, to work at all.

About Fuze Digital Solutions: Fuze is a small, nimble and employee-owned company providing enterprise-grade customer care solutions backed by flexible and personalized support not traditionally extended without extra fees. The Fuze Suite, a Web-based, robust yet affordable software suite, enables credit unions to build and sustain member loyalty by providing outstanding and consistent member care across all support channels. Its modularity lets credit unions use and pay for its integrated components when needed. For more information, call (425) 649-1246 or visit online at




June 5, 2006


  • I found this article very timely since we are in the process of evaluating knowledge bases. Understanding the bigger picture is always important when making any technolgy purchases and I believe Chuck's piece helps sort out relevant considerations for developing an effective and scalable member care strategy.