The Changing Role of Call Centers

by Alice Wilcox 0

As credit unions, we compete against not just community banks that claim great customer service but also large national banks that have attractive multifunction ATMs, convenient mobile apps and online banking tools. We have all heard that these products are the way to reach the younger generation. However, it is a mistake to believe that older members aren’t interested in or capable of using these new technologies. It’s really all about proper training of credit union staff who can bridge these new offerings with the kind of support that will allow any member to use new technologies and products.

Moving members toward utilizing the broad capabilities of multifunction ATMs and transactions on mobile devices away or from home requires some thought about the need for “Call Center” technical support. Particularly with mobile devices, tablets and other technology tools, members need support from well-trained, very tech savvy staff. This set of staff members must have the patience to envision someone’s problem as they describe it and walk the member through setup or troubleshooting, depending on the nature of the self-service product they are using, without actually seeing what the member is doing. Staff in this support area not only must be very familiar with the online banking product but, just as importantly they must be able to quickly assess and adjust to various member skill levels with the technology in question.

Changes in hiring practices for support center staff must be made to assure the core capabilities these duties now require including a working knowledge of all the latest technology in phones and tablets as well as multifunction ATMs. These staff member must be able to help members that are using a variety of devices and application choices and be able to speak intelligently about the difference in our ATM products and services and online and mobile apps compared to other appealing offerings in the market place.

For those who say, there is no place for tellers, I would answer, don’t be too sure. I agree the historic position of teller is no longer viable. It’s being redefined. The real issue is transforming the tellers from traditional service focuses to a customer service liaison with the expertise to address the technology questions and the ability to explain the benefits of our product offerings. If phone support doesn’t work, members, particularly our older members, must have physical access to someone at credit union locations. If it’s a mobile or online app that’s causing the confusion, the member may need to bring their device in to and sit with a staff member to work through technical problems. If the issue is getting a better handle on using multifunction ATMs, walking the member to that ATM and offering a simple demonstration of what these new capabilities entail brings a new level of comfort and support.

It all comes down to how you view it. Much the same way the introduction of the ATM forever changed the industry, this new generation of products and services holds great promise for expanding member brand loyalty and attracting new ones. Preparing for these needs and anticipating new ones is both a challenge and an opportunity. From where I’m sitting, it’s the fun part of serving members.

Alice Wilcox is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pinal County Federal Credit Union.

She brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry to her position with the credit union and is particularly focused on embracing self-service and convenience technologies to serve both individuals and families in Pinal County as well as small business owners.

Wilcox began her career in a full service bank and has worked in each department of the front and back office in both large institutions and small community organizations. Her degree in Accountancy and her certification as a public accountant allowed her to previously serve as the Chief Financial Officer in two different community banks in Arizona.