By Roy Urrico
A rise in digital member service, contact centers transformed into engagement centers, and expanded bot use to help guide users and train service representatives are changes credit unions may undergo moving forward.
“The pandemic accelerated institutions’ timelines for digital transformation — what used to be three-year plans now are becoming just three-quarter roadmaps,” said Dan Michaeli, co-founder and CEO of New York City - based Glia, which provides a digital member-service platform that lets credit unions interact with members through messaging, video, voice, bots and/or cobrowsing.
Prompted by COVID-19, many credit unions faced the challenge of engaging members with digital channels as the institution’s only entry points. Michaeli added, “The future arrived faster than anyone could have anticipated. Leading credit unions will embrace this new normal, combining modern technology with personal service to succeed in the digital world.”
Glia announced 20 credit unions selected its communications and collaboration platform over the past four months, adding to its to its rapidly expanding credit union practice.
"We are constantly looking at ways to improve member service in the digital domain to drive loyalty and retention," said Geoffry Gilton, senior vice president of technology at the $4.2 billion Portsmouth, N.H.- based Service Credit Union (which has additional branches in Massachusetts, North Dakota and Germany). "After a thorough review of our options and an in-depth business case analysis, we selected Glia because of their best-in-class capabilities and seamless user experience. With this technology, we expect to deliver an exceptional experience for both members and employees."
Michaeli noted as activities, such as account and loan origination applications, shift to online and mobile, many digital novices will need help maneuvering those new paths. Currently many digital users typically must dial a phone number and leave all of their transaction or application documentation behind.
Glia's platform enables credit unions to meet members where they are and communicate through whichever methods they prefer Members do not waste time switching communications channels, reauthenticating and providing context around who they are and the issue at hand. Additionally, Michaeli pointed out, member service agents can operate more efficiently, helping multiple members at once, while bringing a personalized touch into the digital domain.
Michaeli explained digital member services can originate from four different launch points: a digital-first party, such as websites, portals, and banking apps; a digital-third party including SMS and social media platforms; phone on screen, callers using a monitor or a mobile display; and an off screen phone call, such as with drivers.
Following the pandemic-driven lockdown, a significant number of members using digital channels for the first time created a surge in calls at traditional contact centers for assistance and direction. Over the next 18 to 24 months, Glia expects a shift in the complexity curve of member support inquiries from simple requests, which are resolvable through automation using bots, to more complex requests that require more highly trained and specialized service representatives. That is why Michaeli anticipates credit unions member contact centers evolving into engagement centers to handle more complex issues.
Chatbots, which started in banking as artificial intelligence helpers for straightforward member questions and experiences, can also progress to assisting member service representatives by forwarding relevant member information during an enhanced interaction, suggesting the best options and direction. Instead of deploying massive monolithic bots, Michaeli said Glia orchestrates and coordinate an array of micro-bots, which can answer specific questions about products to assist members and staff.
Michaeli also emphasized as members become more comfortable with digital connections, their expectation will increase. Credit unions will need the right tools, people and processes in place to provide an interaction and experience that differentiates the institution. “You'll have to shift to becoming a digital first credit union and practice digital member servicing, not phone member servicing, because the majority of your members are going use digital experiences.”
Glia provides its standalone interaction solution via what Michaeli describes as a robust software development kit and application programming interface for customers integrating the solution with backend systems. “We're a platform with really nice API hooks that you can use to bring in all your existing systems,” he said adding that credit unions insert one line of code on their online properties. Once installed, a member can click a floating bubble to choose their communication method with member services.
Michaeli said, "Glia combines the human touch and digital in a unique way, allowing community-based institutions like credit unions to continue to provide the personalized, exceptional member experience they're known for, despite physical separation.” He added, “We're proud to partner with these credit unions that understand how critical digital transformation is – especially now – and are seizing the opportunity to reinvent how they connect with and serve members as part of this transformation."