WATERBURY, Conn. -- Martin Misset thinks his credit union would have missed out on a lot of business if it hadn't signed up with its 7/24 lending call center service.
Waterbury Connecticut Teachers Federal Credit Union (WCTFCU) is now using Lending Solutions Inc.'s call center to handle loan applications, including car loans at such crucial points as when the buyer is at the dealership and the credit union's closed.
"We're seeing heavy volume over the weekend, and it's really true that if we can pre-approve them before the guy buys the car, we're going to get that loan. I think we would not have gotten 80% of that business if we hadn't been able to do that," said the $153 million CU's vice president of lending.
WCTFCU is now using the call center in Illinois to handle a variety of loans, from auto to home equity lines, and is handling about $425,000 a month that way since launching the service a few months ago.
In addition to off-hours work, Waterbury Connecticut Teachers uses the LSI center for overflow during regular business hours, giving members the option to take that route instead of waiting.
"It's enabled us to increase our level of service in a lot of ways," Misset said. He also notes that "we still control the process. The call center can approve a loan but they can't deny it, for example, and they use our underwriting criteria."
The CU went live with a loan-processing
system from IA Systems last December and
then began considering how to bolster its lending services to members.
Misset said the decision to go with the LSI solution was the result of a "combination of things."
"We were looking for additional delivery channels for our members and had utilized LSI's consulting services when we instituted a new lending program back in 2002," Misset said. "We'd been having conversations with them ever since, and with their partnership with IA Systems, it was a natural fit for us."
So is combining lending with the delivery of online and call center member service, said LSI Executive Vice President Dave Brooke, whose company is now adding functionality to its call center operations in Elgin, Ill.
"Many credit unions have combined member service and lending into one function," he said. "It was a natural fit for us, too."
Misset says his CU is not currently using the IA Systems interface with the LSI system. Instead, applications handled by phone are being faxed to the credit union if they hadn't been done online.
"Our loan department then keys it in, which only takes a few minutes," he said. That's a temporary situation, the lending VP adds, until platform upgrades take place and the Summit Information Systems core platform is integrated with the IA Systems LOS and the LSI call center system.
"It's still a pretty seamless process. We follow up within 24 hours and the loans move right ahead," Misset said.
He said the CU also checked out their new call center partners thoroughly before going live.
"We went through a very rigorous testing period of three to four weeks, and the LSI reps were not aware that it was us. They were under the assumption it was live members calling," he said.
"We were very happy with the training we received and they obviously were very familiar with our products and rates, and they had the ability to cross sell our other products as well, including gap insurance, CDs and additional loan products," Misset said.
Brooke says the 200 or so staffers at the LSI call center also can now handle other tasks, such as re-setting online banking PINs and transferring funds, as it expands its services.
"We're building on our core competency, which has always been lending," said Brooke. He says LSI has about 300 clients using its call center, which runs on a proprietary in-house loan-origination system. Another 200 are clients of the company's consulting service.
"Our focus here is on lending and on serving members in a call center environment," Brooke said. "It's been that way since we opened our doors in 1995."
And as for WCTFCU, "everyone's chasing that same piece of business more than ever before," Misset said. "Having this service and the price point we can
offer just gives us that much more of a competitive advantage."