Cross-Selling, Multi-Channel Use Tops Frontline Tech Trends
Frontline technology can be complex and intimidating, but recent trends are signaling just how important it's become in the battle to stay relevant to increasingly tech-savvy members. With nearly two-thirds of Internet users doing online banking, according to Pew Research, and Millennials the least likely group to make frequent trips to branches, according to a Bankrate survey, making the most of frontline technology is more critical than ever. Here's what's making a big impact, according to some experts in the sector.
Looking Beyond Tellers
Not too long ago, frontline software was built almost solely around tellers. Now that websites, mobile apps and e-commerce systems are also interfacing with customers – in many cases more than tellers are – credit unions have to widen their view of where frontline technology fits in their organization.
“The path to purchase has fundamentally changed and where any individual is when they finally reach out to you,” Eric Siano, senior director of integrated marketing product management at Infor, an enterprise software developer headquartered in New York City, said. “You may never see that individual, because you may not show up in their path to purchase. It works to have these technologies; you want to deploy them, you want to train your people. I don't think what I’m saying is in conflict, but you also have to consider that the way we traditionally sell customers is fundamentally changing.”
Many credit unions are transitioning their tellers and member service representatives into sales forces, and frontline software is becoming the grease on the skids.
CU*South's CU*Base software, used in about 260 credit unions, is one example. When tellers or member service representatives (MSRs) pull up a member's profile, they can see which products the member does and doesn't use, according to Wynona Shaddix, client sales and marketing manager for the CUSO, which is based in Fairhope, Ala.
Rather than just helping process transactions, reset passwords and answer questions, frontline software is increasingly using data to prompt tellers and MSRs to offer products and services to members as well. That could mean flagging members who might be good fits for certain products, creating lists of members who haven't used a service in a long time and even serving up scripts so employees can make verbal offers to members more effectively when they’re in the branch or on the phone.
Ditching the DIY
Building custom frontline software in-house is becoming a thing of the past at credit unions such as Patelco, headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif. The credit union, which has $4.3 billion in assets and 289,000 members, recently ditched its home-grown system for Fiserv's Branch Suite.
“It's a big change for us,” Kevin Landel, chief information officer for Patelco, said. “We didn't have a system that allowed our staff to see the full 360-degree view of our members prior to rolling that out.”
Identification verification and team training became easier, he said, and the credit union was able to remove its sales incentives and implement a more consultative approach toward members. Adding an IRA-servicing module eliminated countless hours of double-entry work and keying errors as well, Landel said.
“The promise of home-grown is that ultimate customizability and really doing it the way that the credit union wants to do it,” he said. “I have to be honest, in some things where we’ve got off-the-shelf software, we’ve lost some functionality and capability. Where you lose is on the support side of things. You have to continue keeping that system in compliance; any modifications mean modifying the whole thing. You have to have the whole software-development lifecycle support on the back end.”
Read more: Data analytics can help credit unions make better offers ...
Analytics are now a key part of frontline software's prowess, and slicing and dicing data is a part of the deal. Through CU*South's “Where Your Members Borrow” tool, for example, credit unions can see where else members are borrowing and then filter their data by credit score in order to make better offers to them.
“You can say, ‘Give me those members with 620 credit scores and also only those members who have automobile loans,’” Shaddix said. “Then directly from that, you can email every single one of those members at one time. Then from there it also goes into their online banking as a marketing message. They’re getting it in two places.”
From there, credit unions can track who got the emails and create reports for following up with those members.
Infor's Interaction Advisor is another example. Cookies and authentication help identify members at ATMs, call centers and online, and that – combined with algorithms involving, among other things, the individual's characteristics and the probabilities of what he or she will accept – helps determine what gets offered to the member, Siano explained.
“Maybe they were at the ATM and asked for the receipt to be emailed to them, so that when they get the email, you can put a click-through box at the bottom that says, ‘Sign up for e-statements,’” he said. “If in the interim they went to the website and they saw the same message and signed up for e-statements, Interaction Advisor will go and change that email before they open it to something else.”
Turning Tides for Tech Teams
The growing popularity of vendor-supported frontline software means the talent needs of in-house IT teams are also changing.
“First of all, credit unions aren't software houses,” Landel said. Building frontline software in-house requires developers, a team of engineers who keep things running, and test and QA people, he said. Moving to vendor-supported platforms means the staff can shift from survival to strategic development.
That changes the hiring needs, but it can also increase employee satisfaction, he added.
“They don't want to work on the same old stuff forever,” he said. “Actually, it increases engagement of your staff by being able to put them into things that are new and exciting. They can see how they’re driving the organization forward.”
Searching for the Omnichannel Holy Grail
Frontline technology has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. Right now, Landel said, the dream is omnichannel functionality, which would give credit unions like his the ability to provide service across various channels without making members have the same conversation multiple times.
Online banking systems, consumer loan origination systems and mortgage loan origination systems tend to operate separately, Landel said. Each of those systems works well if a member stays within a channel; combining the service channels means tellers and everyone else needs to be trained on every channel.
Landel uses a member's car loan experience as an example. “They might come to our website and identify a product that they might want to get,” he said. “Then let's say they start their online loan application. Partway through that loan application, they have some questions. They might chat with our member service center. They get their question answered, finish their application and submit it.”
He added, “Later on, they might pick up the phone and ask what the status of the loan is. Or they might go to a portal. Then they would come into the branch to finish the funding and all of that. There's three or four different channels happening right there. There's the digital channel on the front end, there's chat with our member contact center, there's a portal. What we would like is to have that capability to just pick it up right where they left off.”