Any major operational change at a credit union, such as a move, merger or core system conversion, can cause an influx of member service requests and potentially a call center nightmare.
But the $499 million Credit Union of America in Wichita, Kan., said it soared through a merger and headquarters location move without a hitch and credits its call center software, the Customer Interaction Center from Indianapolis, Ind.-based Interactive Intelligence Group Inc., which it first implemented in 2004.
Earlier this year, the now 16-branch Credit Union of America merged with the competing First Choice Credit Union and built a new location in Wichita to house its headquarters. Richard Logan, senior vice president and chief information officer for Credit Union of America, said growth at the credit union, in addition to plans for a core banking system conversion, prompted the headquarters move.
The credit union will move to an in-house system in December and at that point, will require more space for a data center, Logan said.
CIC, an all-in-one contact center platform that facilitates interactions on multiple channels, is in use at approximately 120 credit unions, according to Interactive Intelligence. Through Credit Union of America’s merger, former First Choice staffers were moved onto CIC’s automatic call distributor platform, which allowed them to continue serving members whose accounts they were most familiar with, Logan said.
During the credit union’s headquarters move, half of its call center staff moved first and were followed by the other half a week later; the credit union reports it did not experience a rise in member complaints throughout the process.
Some of the attributes of CIC that won Credit Union of America over back in 2004 have been especially beneficial to the cooperative through its recent changes, according to Logan. These include the fact that CIC is software-based and it compiles each user’s emails, instant message conversations and incoming calls in the order they’re received in a single queue. It also displays the availability status of each user, which helps employees avoid transferring members to employees who are out of the office.
“CIC enables our employees to initiate calls directly from their email or contact lists,” Logan said. “And, they can make conference calls by simply dragging names into the desktop client’s call control window.”
Internal communication has dramatically improved through CIC’s presence management feature by enabling the credit union’s staff to see the status of colleagues, Logan said. Service has improved as well since employees can now avoid transferring customer calls to unavailable colleagues.
CIC’s Web-based nature allows users to access the platform regardless of their location, according to Logan. Each staff member’s extension number is linked to his or her network login, so they can receive calls at the same number even when they’re not at their desks. This is particularly helpful for employees who often travel between branches, he noted.
“Using CIC, our employees simply log in from wherever they are and it’s just like working from headquarters; they get all the same call control and presence management functionality, and their location is completely transparent to callers,” Logan said. “As a credit union with multiple branch offices, this has had a huge impact on productivity and customer service.”
Another benefit CIC brings to Credit Union of America is a savings on long distance phone calls. The credit union has configured the system so each time an employee makes a long distance call, it travels across the WAN, through the credit union’s local office, which allows it to essentially be placed as a local call, Logan explained.
CIC also lets the credit union add new extensions, eliminating the need to purchase new phone lines. Logan said the long distance call avoidance feature is especially helpful because the credit union’s branches are scattered across different area code zones in Kansas.
Brad Herrington, solutions marketing manager for Interactive Intelligence, added that CIC automatically pulls up member information onto employees’ screens when the member contacts the credit union, saving employees from having to manually search for the information. CIC also provides space for future growth. Credit unions and other Interactive Intelligence customers can add up to 5,000 users to the platform.
Additionally, the platform provides support in situations where a credit union needs to temporarily beef up its support staff during a hectic event such as a merger. They can add users from a third party service support company or assign platform usage rights to staffers who don’t normally handle service calls, Herrington said.
“It provides you with the flexibility to move the system where you want to, whether you’re going through a merger or core conversion,” Herrington said. “You just have to move the people. You’re able to provide multiple types of service from one platform. It’s an all-in-one system that provides everything you need to communicate.”
Logan concluded that as the credit union continues to grow and evolve, CIC helps maintain an essential piece of member service including responding to member calls, emails and instant messages without missing a beat.
“By not having to put members on hold, we can serve them better. It gives us the flexibility to do business the way we want to do business.”