The latest technology popping up in credit unions seems almost as futuristic as Star Trek’s holodeck.
Imagine having a real-time conversation with a life-size, 3D image of a credit union expert who can answer questions about everything from car loans to savings rates. Plus, throw in theater-quality sound and eye contact.
That might sound a bit like science fiction, but members at the $194 million MidUSA Credit Union in Middletown, Ohio, will soon be able to tap into telepresence video communication, which utilizes 3D technology and real-time video to enable members to engage in virtual meetings with credit union staff in different locations, said James Miles, president & CEO of the 17,900-member MidUSA.
Miles said MidUSA recently inked a deal with Naples, Fla.-based Buffalo Pacific LLC to become the first credit union in the United States to deploy high-definition 3D OmniSuite technology. The manufacturing partner is Plano, Texas-based Telepresence Technologies LLC.
"The real-time 3D video communications experiences transmitted through the OmniSuites are of such quality that they appear to be real life and they give members the feeling of sitting across the desk from our expert staff,” Miles explained.
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“With this technology, we will be able to improve the level of service that we have to our members,” he said. “For example, if a member walks into an office, they want to conduct business right then, rather than scheduling an appointment for later. This technology will allow members in any branch to immediately talk with the MidUSA expert they need.”
Miles said MidUSA is in the process of installing OmniSuites in its Kettering and Middletown Plaza branches
The credit union’s decision to deploy the innovative technology was based on increasing member demand for convenience and consumer confidence in video technologies such as Skype and Google Hangouts, Miles added.
Although video conferences provide some benefits, Miles said, they don’t offer members the same type of experience and engagement provided by OmniSuite’s technology, which features enhanced audio and video fidelity, compared to typical video conferencing.
“The OmniSuite technology provides a member experience that is magical and timely,” Miles said. “We think this technology is especially exciting for our members who work with our investment and mortgage experts.
“This will give MidUSA the ability to better serve our members with the various subject matter experts we have on staff, and remove the obstacles of time and travel.”
Miles said MidUSA will begin testing OmniSuite with their investment adviser and also plans to use the technology to communicate with employees and to educate members.
“This will allow the investment advisor to have less down time than they would if they were driving during the business day between our six offices to meet customers,” he said. “We can also use it to conduct mortgage workshops and other educational programs for members.
David Allen, chairman and CEO of Buffalo Pacific, said that selecting MidUSA to launch the state-of-the-art OmniSuite technology was a natural because he is a member of MidUSA and familiar with their operation.
"MidUSA is rightfully excited to be the first credit union in the country to deploy the OmniSuite technology as it has the power to completely rewrite the member experience in branch by providing a virtual "presence" of MidUSA experts, which truly creates boundless relationships,” he said. “OmniSuite technology allows credit unions to enhance relationship value and depth while better utilizing staff and location resources.
Allen, who is credited on Wikipedia as a pioneer of telepresence technology, said the OmniSuite technology utilizes six registered U.S. patents, and is designed to create personalized relationships between a credit union and its members.
Unlike video conferencing online from a laptop, Allen said, telepresence technology offers many benefits such as virtual full-eye contact and life-sized images with theater quality sound.
"Other technologies are good at showing you the person, but a telepresence allows the person to physically be in the room,” he added. "With full-eye contact, trust is developed and soon the member feels as if a routine conversation is occurring right across the desk. It's a member experience like no other and allows the credit union expert to deliver on-demand service."