Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: member expectations (page 1 of 3)

If Your AI Is Only For Chatting, You’re Doing It Wrong

“Ask Our Friendly AI!” Your credit union’s website is excitedly promoting their new chat bot, there to answer questions 24/7. “Cool, so how can it help me save money or time?” Whether they admit it or not, that’s what your members will be thinking. In some cases, such tech is fielding member requests without burdening traditional staff time. And their resolution rates can be similar to human representatives. What are you waiting for? Get Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and friends to every CU! (HAL is not welcome, sorry)

It’s not that simple. “AI” support agents are uniquely programmed to understand financial world terminology. Plus, computers don’t excel at interacting like a person, since we learn and process the world in a different way. One day, I’m certain this will no longer be the case, and all systems will talk to each other in the background, so you could ask Siri (remember that post?) to transfer money from one account to another, explain the tax implications of your specific IRA contributions, and what the score is for your favorite team. But we’re not at that point…yet. And look who spoke too soon…we’re actually getting awfully close.

Readers know my passion (that’s 3 links!) for the “AI Revolution”. With its arrival, a lot of ideas are being thrown around on best use. Right now, the most common answer is: Everywhere!!!

Patience, my young Padawan. A fancy chat bot might seem like the natural first step, but let’s look at it from a member benefit perspective. If they have a question, they don’t care who/what responds. They just want a quick and accurate answer. If your team is currently able to keep members served quickly and effectively (through any medium they contact), then this may not be a fit for you at this time. Unless you have unlimited resources, in which case, yes, do all of this at once. Just make sure you have top-notch project management to ensure the focus is always on the unified credit union goals.

For the rest of us, the AI which makes the most sense, if less “sexy”, is the Big Data side of AI, the machine learning. Here, you have solutions which can analyze a member’s credit (beyond the report) and offer a rapid loan decision with high rate accuracy. You can implement systems to monitor patterns in spending to identify fraud the moment it occurs, saving the institution money and the member frustration. Machine learning is also enabling security of the body, biometrics. You know it as the fingerprint sensor on your phone, but facial recognition is also commonplace on new Windows 10 computers, while retina scanners are the “top level” of security at large financial institutions.

Speed. Savings. Security. Three great reasons to implement aspects of AI in your credit union. A recent post about this topic ended with a wonderful quote:

“When a bank…effectively uses AI, they run more efficiently and are able to connect more effectively with a segment of the population that will never be replaced by machines: their customers.” – Mohit Joshi, Innovations in FinTech

Ok, ok.  I’ve given you way too much to consider.  AI, Big Data, machine learning, algorithmic analysis…yeah, I get it.  Overwhelming when you just want to know, “can this stuff help my credit union?”  So, I had a realization right after writing this post.  Remember that series I did about tech in the financial industry?  As part of it, I mentioned that financial institutions are at risk of becoming “dumb banks” in the same way that ISPs are “dumb pipes”, simply being the corridor for other companies’ information.  You hold the money, but your members use other company services to move, spend, invest, even check on their funds.   The same is the case here with AI.

There will always be a place for information as you manage it now: Raw account balances aren’t going anywhere.  But that’s “dumb data”.  The future is in “smart data”.  Where your credit union and members can find patterns in spending, opportunities in lending, and personalized recommendations for minimizing debt (or maximizing wealth).

How will you become the “smart data” of the future?

3 Easy Ways To Ensure Your Customer Service Doesn’t Suck

Oh, the customer, or member in most credit union cases. They’re both essential and the bane of your existence. They love your low rates and community-centric mission! But they also can’t stand that you serve Seattle coffee rather than Columbian in your branch. What’s wrong with you heathens?

Ok, so I may be exaggerating. But, for those of you who have worked with members, not by much. People can be, shall we say, trying. That does not mean you can discount a valid complaint or ignore a reasonable question. Like Disney Cast Members, you must address every member with a smile, a courteous reply, and a satisfactory resolution. (Side-note: Cast Members are not allowed to say, “I don’t know.” It’s part of why their training is so intensive. They either must know the right answer or be able to connect the guest with the right person instantaneously. What’s your policy?)

The title of this post promises three easy ways to ensure your customer service doesn’t suck. And, because I believe in serving you, my readers, that’s exactly what I’m going to deliver. There will even be a follow-up post where I review a few recent support interactions of my own and you can be the judge of how well they were handled. Ready?

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start:

1. Respond Promptly

Every time. To every member. No matter how ridiculous their question or comment may seem.

What I mean by prompt varies depending on how the member is reaching out. If it’s in person, I don’t suggest waiting 2 days to answer. That makes for an awfully uncomfortable face-to-face. Here’s a list of my maximum reply times based on medium:

  • In-Person: 3 seconds
  • Chat: 5 minutes
  • Phone: 10 minutes
  • Twitter: 15 minutes
  • Facebook: 1 hour
  • E-mail: 24 hours
  • Owl: 3 days
  • Messenger Pigeon: Never. Because they’re extinct.

Making a member wait beyond these times does nothing but upset them beyond their original concern.

2. Ensure Your Reply Is Relevant

If a member asks you about opening a new savings account, would you reply with instructions for setting up a 401K? No, because that’s dumb. Yet I see it all the time, especially on e-mail support replies. In the rush to achieve #1, getting a quick reply, sometimes the point is missed. Don’t do that. Take the time to understand what your member is asking. If you need, respond with a question clarifying their own. “Let me make sure I’m understanding you correctly. You are looking to build savings with a new account here. Is that correct?” It shows you read/listened to their question and then cared enough to ensure you’re getting it right.

Addressing a question they never asked is arguably worse than never responding at all. It implies carelessness and a “whatever” attitude to getting your members the help they requested.

3. Follow Through To Resolution

Once you’ve begun the conversation, it doesn’t end until your member says they are satisfied or the issue is resolved to your best ability. It is quite frustrating to start a discussion, only to have it end prematurely because the company stopped answering or gave a generic “resolution” statement.

Getting to a resolution has a few steps when you’re not the one able to do it. The first is straight-up attention. Show you understand their question. Second is diligence in action. If you know they need to talk to someone else, don’t waste their time not transferring. Third is making sure that transfer works. At least 25% of the time I am transferred on phone support, the line disconnects. And then it’s back to square one. The best companies keep the first agent on the line, connect and introduce me to the other person, and then make sure everything is ok to turn the call over. Accountability for everyone. And this personal touch does not go unnoticed by your member.

What if the member is saying things, perhaps publicly, that you’re not liking? You still have to politely reply until the problem is resolved or moved to another medium. Short the most loathsome of Internet trolls, people are willing to come to a mutual agreement. Be the more mature party.

And that’s it! Three easy ways to ensure your customer service both doesn’t suck and also rocks your members’ socks! Here’s the tl;dr of it all:

  1. Respond
  2. Be relevant
  3. Follow through to resolution

What were some recent member service challenges you encountered? And how did you resolve them to everyone’s satisfaction? Curious minds want to know! Share in the comments for all to see.

Insights In 160 Characters…Or Less

Full posts are overrated. Ok, that’s not true. They are essential to delve into an issue beyond surface discussions. However, there’s also a time for brevity. Short and sweet, as you could say. I’ve found that much of my best wisdom has originated, spur of the moment, in a Twitter post or reply. If only I were as witty and intelligent in the rest of my life!

There has been a trend lately in terms of topics discussed, both for myself and the industry as a whole. Social Media and Big Data. I’ve written a lot of articles about both, but, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t read them even if they were linked here. However, I might get you to read a series of tweets which spur some new ways of thinking. Ready? Too bad…we’re off!

Social Media

On replying to online criticism/comments:

On producing content your members want to see:

On the difference between good and unique:

On catching attention, in almost any way you can:

On what (actually) makes credit unions different:

On reminding us all that failing is ok, too:

Finally, on being *that guy* in the conversation:

Big Data

On using for “any and all purposes”:

On understanding what you’re looking at:

On realizing nothing really has changed:

On having my A/C replaced:

Did any of those short statements/replies educate, inspire, or convince you of their importance? There’s always more where they came from. Simply follow me on Twitter @JoeCUGeek or comment on the post to start a new conversation!  I tried to share tweets which did not link to long reads, but some do slip through (most of mine go to something to dive deeper).  Also, I realized that searching through 4,000+ tweets is a pain for me, but a victory for you!

Bonus for reading to the end (or just scrolling to the bottom):

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