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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Connexus CU Saves Over 9,500 hours With Illuma Voice Authentication Solution

By W.B. King


With the goal to always partner with fintech solutions that enhance the member experience, Connexus Credit Union recently realized an 84% time reduction at its member contact center.


“As we continue to grow and scale as an organization, our call volume is growing and scaling,” said Connexus Credit Union Director of Member Experience Craig Stancher.

The $4.8 billion Wausau, Wis.-based credit union serves more than 435,000 members and eight branch locations. On a monthly basis, approximately 63,000 members ring the call center.

Craig Stancher

“We realized that we could solve part of the challenges of scaling by using technology to enhance the role that our member contact center agents have today, making the authentication process easier on them and much easier on our members as well,” Stancher added.


In an effort to streamline operations, Connexus Credit Union partnered with the Plano, Texas-based CUSO, Illuma, which offers a real-time voice authentication and fraud prevention solution called “Illuma Shield.”


Illuma’s Founder and CEO Milind Borkar told Finopotamus that credit unions normally reach out to the company to address challenges with call center operations, account security, and member experience.

Milind Borkar

“High call volumes and labor shortages are making it imperative to find a better, faster way to handle member calls. Traditional knowledge based authentication [KBA] takes up too much time on each call, and members find it frustrating to answer security questions instead of having their needs immediately addressed,” said Borkar. “Contact center agents need to be certain they are talking to the member since account takeover attempts are a common security threat, but fraudsters have found ways to buy, steal, or ‘socially engineer’ ways to get the answers to security questions.”


Making the Call


It was in 2019 that Illuma appeared on Connexus Credit Union’s radar. The fintech, which today counts eight credit unions as clients, had recently won “Best in Show” at the VentureTech conference.


“Researching the competition left a bitter taste in my mouth. The big voice authentication providers wouldn’t even do a demo for us. I found out their threshold is a minimum of 1,000 agents in a contact center,” noted Connexus Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chad Rogers. “Any organization smaller than that isn’t worth their time. So, I looked for a provider that does serve organizations like ours, and I found Illuma. We were one of their first clients, and they’re now a marketplace leader in their space.”

Chad Rogers

Borkar further explained that after Connexus Credit Union executed the contract, the solution was rolled out in approximately one month, which included a “pilot evaluation” period.


“Since then Illuma has become much more efficient in our deployments. We ask our credit union clients to budget three to four weeks for deployment, however we typically finish up much faster,” Borkar said. “Our fastest deployment till date took only five days days, and we aim for the majority of our future deployments to be even faster.”


As a software as a service (SaaS), Borkar explained Illuma Shield can easily plug-in to a credit union’s core, requiring little effort from the credit union’s IT department.


“We deliver a few key software applications to our clients’ IT teams for deployment in their data center. The next step is configuring their contact center platform to communicate with our applications,” Borkar explained. “All of this can be completed with part time effort from one or two IT resources with an understanding of the credit union’s IT and telephony infrastructure. We are currently integrated with several systems from Cisco, Mitel, Genesys and Avaya, and we are continuously adding more.”


As one of the company’s first credit union clients, Borkar said he couldn’t have asked for a better partner.


“The Connexus Credit Union team has been amazing to work with. The technology and integration worked flawlessly at the first pass. As we started working towards a production go-live, we realized the biometric and data privacy laws applicable to Connexus Credit Union required tracking member consent,” he noted. “Since this mechanism was not in place at the time, our team went ahead and built the capability to track and manage member consent in Illuma’s Manager Portal.”


The Manager Portal, he added, is now part of Illuma’s standard offering to its credit union clients. This helps other credit union clients’ compliance teams meet the “key consent tracking requirements of the major biometric and data privacy laws” in the United States, he added.


Improving the Member Experience


For Connexus Credit Union, return on investment can be tracked to statistics. In the first 16 months, the credit union’s call center saved over 9,500 hours. Additionally, there was a 72.6% higher Agent Impact Score (AIS), 21.8% greater member satisfaction (based on positive sentiment scoring), 97% reduction in member dissatisfaction level (reduction in negative sentiment), and to date Borkar said no fraudster has been able to "defeat" the system.

Tina Stroming

“Our leadership team, and the Member Contact Center as a whole, are very passionate about creating a positive, less disruptive form of member verification,” said Connexus Credit Union Manage of Member Contact Operations Tina Stroming. “Voice authentication can reduce the length of time spent on validation questions and has made it easier to get down to solving a member’s issue quickly. Illuma Shield and the voice authentication process improves the member experience and helps our team be more productive.”


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