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What’s in a Call?

It’s been a busy quarter, and while I usually would stick to focusing solely on writing about marketing-focused topics, I’ll be focusing on something closer to where I started in the CUSO Industry: member phone calls. Over the course of the last three months, I’ve gotten really close to Phone Optics Data, or the non-transactional analysis data of Phone Operator usage in the CU*BASE Data Warehouse. And I mean really close – in spending well over 40 hours a week getting to know it, studying it, and discussing it with clients and internal staff alike. In all this time, I learned a lot about how credit union staff are using the Phone Operator toolset, what members are asking for on the phone, and the types of members that call the credit union.


Our team built a total of 10 Phone Optics Case Studies between February and March and, for the most part, we found that credit unions aren’t using Phone Operator the way they should. Back-office staff are using Phone Operator to perform research they could do in Member Inquiry, some employees are looking at their own memberships in the tool instead of in Online Banking, and staff aren’t always labeling their actions on a call correctly when they use Wrap Up Codes. While this is all great information, it doesn’t help us get to know the members that are calling, or what they really want out of a phone call when they contact the credit union.


Did you know that the members who call the credit union are more apt to use Online and/or Mobile Banking, even during the same time period that they are calling? These members are also calling to perform the same transactions with an employee that they can accomplish independently via self-services. On average, the members that contact the credit union are enrolled in more self-services and have more products with the credit union than both the average member and the average non-caller. This was true for all 10 credit unions we studied, without any exceptions. This posed the following questions for myself and many of our clients:


1. What builds a strong membership?

Is it the fact that the members call and have more opportunity to be sold on more products and services, therefore using them more often? Or, are members more engaged because they have more products and use services more often, therefore needing to ask more questions?


2. Why are these members calling if they’re using Online or Mobile Banking?

Do these members prefer to speak with staff more than perform transactions independently? Do they have more questions about their transactions and accounts because they’re paying more attention to them via these self-service tools? Do they not trust what they see in Online or Mobile Banking?


While we couldn’t answer all of these questions directly in the study, asking these questions of our partner credit unions opened up the door to other possibilities outside of staff training: more direct and robust marketing programs. How can we speak to these frequent callers in a way that helps them continue to feel valued, and answers their common questions, while still saving time on the phone? How can we engage the members not calling the credit union so that they begin to use self-services and increase their average products per member? And last but not least, how can we recapture those fly-by opportunities, such as members who call and ask for a payoff, before they’re gone? With Phone Optics, we finally have the data to present all of these possibilities, and to further develop technology and programs to improve the overall member experience. With Phone Optics we finally get to see, from a data standpoint, what’s really in a call.

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