Credit Unions Getting the Member Messages
By Roy Urrico
The public has sent a clear message. They want short form options as a method of communication with businesses. Eltropy, which delivers artificial intelligence-powered messaging solutions, provides a platform to facilitate the credit union member experience through a texting option.
Sending and receiving texts is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50, according to a Gallup poll. Zipwhip found the vast majority of consumers and businesses are using texting as a primary form of communication. Simple Texting held that more than 60% of people read SMSs within five minutes.
Ashish Garg, CEO and founder, and Chandra Bhople, co-founder and chief talent officer, recognizing the shift in consumer preferable communication method, started Eltropy to deliver a messaging solution for financial institutions. Eltropy sought to take advantage of consumers’ increasing desire for personalized, efficient communication and their likelihood to engage more with businesses that use text messaging.
“Over the past three years, our razor-sharp focus has provided financial institutions with the best digital communication platform in order to best engage with their members and customers,” Garg said. He added that Eltropy provides a wide range of channels that could include SMS, chat and social media generated messaging.
Apparently Eltropy hit the right note. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company recently announced more than 200 customers comprising credit unions, banks, insurance companies and non-depository mortgage lenders adopted its solution. “Digital communication has gone from a nice-to-have feature to an essential tool for financial institutions nationwide,” said Garg.
Credit Unions Receive the Text
Eltropy signed 19 credit union deals in May 2021 alone, including Allegiance Credit Union ($325 million), Kemba Credit Union ($1.14 billion), Great Lakes Federal Credit Union ($55 million), and Barksdale Federal Credit Union ($1.75 billion). “Eltropy’s secure and compliant platform fulfills the needs of credit unions of all sizes based on our willingness and ability to tailor-fit our enterprise solution,” Garg maintained.
Garg noted. “We provide different ways of logging into our system at each credit union. Every credit union gets its own unique environment and its own unique log. It's almost like having a virtual credit union on the internet.” Garg indicated they designed Eltropy’s text messaging solution to meet the demands of the entire credit union, including marketing, collections, lending, call center, in-branch, human resources and payment teams.
“There were so many positives for our credit union to choose Eltropy,” said Jennifer Fancher, director of marketing and business development at the $170 million Blytheville, Ark.-based Success Credit Union, which went live with Eltropy’s solution earlier this year. “Our members love the new text messaging system. They can apply for loans online, and, now with Eltropy, they can communicate with an officer about their loan and send information securely through text. They can conduct most of their credit union business without ever leaving home.”
“Before Eltropy, we were with a different texting service and they were a huge company that was very expensive,” said Eltropy customer Chiannon Pauley, marketing specialist at $162 million Spartanburg, S.C.-based Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union. “It would take days of me calling, emailing and texting, but nobody would respond to me. It was driving me crazy. Every time I reach out to Eltropy, they respond within 15 minutes to half-an-hour or I can call our rep at any time. That’s incredible.”
Credit Union of America Takes a Message
Matthew Schenk, vice president of enterprise architecture at the $1.3 billion Wichita, Kan.-based Credit Union of America (CUA), explained the credit union has been in a phased roll out, slowly adding departments, with Eltropy since mid-2020. “We wanted to communicate better with our members. We saw an opportunity with Eltropy to do that in a way that was flexible.” Schenk added the credit union also envisioned the solution as a way for members to refinance loans very quickly and easily.
Dealing with the pandemic and social distancing issues hastened the rollout. Schenk described how CUA started mostly with marketing initiatives, then moved messaging to the credit union’s lending department, service, human resources and collections departments, as well as using it for member authentication. “The phased implementation plan really focused us on getting it to our users quickly.”
Schenk pointed out the credit union shifted around some of the enhancements and are now working on getting basic text messaging functionality working. He added that during the pandemic its been critical to offer a cloud-based messaging solution to members and staff working from home. They also used the mass texting ability to communicate with the workforce over the winter about issues such as power outages and branch closures due to weather.
Schenk said the lending staff also leaned very heavily on the messaging system to collect documents. “There’s an ability to provide a short URL to a member via text message they can click on and then upload a picture of a document. You can also send forms to them so that they can then sign them and return it to us. Execution happens over text messaging.”
CUA has received very positive feedback from its account resolutions departments as result of messaging aides such as automated reminders that go out to members when they are approaching the end of the grace period for payment due dates, Schenk said. For March 2021, CUA had a 40% response rate in resolution for collections. Schenk noted overall collections has almost an 80% response rate.
“It’s very high and very trackable,” Schenk said. The Eltropy platform documents all conversations and makes them retrievable for any future member contact by credit union associates. “It is having a real impact on our members' lives,” Schenk said.
CUA is also in the process of implementing MessagePay, a payment service that integrates with Eltropy and allows members to make their loan payments via text message, eliminating the need for in-person visits or checks.
Eltropy connects to CUA’s Symitar core through SymXchange, an interface that enables third-party vendors and a credit union to access the Symitar Episys core data and business rules, complementary solutions and third-party products. Eltropy also integrates via API to core processing systems, such as Corelation, and uses analytics to provide engagement insights, Garg explained.
Getting the Message Across
Eltropy, currently endorsed by more than 80% percent of U.S. credit union state and regional leagues and associations as well as CUNA Strategic Services, claims text messaging is 40 times more effective than phone calls for financial institution communication.
Garg also explained why text is so effective as a collections tool. “The collection call rate in America is less than 1%. However, if you did the exact same thing via text, we see a 40% response rate.” The Eltropy co-founder noted what they learned from credit unions debtors have difficultly explain to a stranger on a phone call why a payment is late. “Text is easier to request an extension.”
Eltropy maintains they have seen similar responses rates in other areas. “Marketing via text is 500% more effective than marketing via email,” Garg added.
“We are excited about how we are continuing to serve the credit union movement and they are embracing our technology,” said Garg. In 2019, CUNA Strategic Services (CSS) Eltropy named Eltropy the Best Text Messaging Solution for Credit Unions.