Portrait of customer service executive working at office

Credit unions are known for their stand-out service and commitment to their members. However, as times change, what members expect changes with them. Many of the tasks or transactions that were once carried out in person now take place online. 

In reality, this is good news for both credit unions and their members. Access to online support allows everyone to reach resolutions more quickly, efficiently, and with less impact or frustration. That is provided the credit union has channels in place that are robust enough for members to get the advice or information they need when they need it. 

Much like financial institutions around the world, many credit unions are turning to new methods of communication, making their advisors accessible to members on the channels of their choice. By taking this approach, known as conversational engagement, credit unions are able to offer a frictionless experience across multiple channels and touchpoints that get results. 

One of the key aspects of conversational engagement is the Live Chat messaging program, which allows members to contact agents on the website. If someone has an issue or would like more information, Live Chat ensures they have swift access to support for a strong member experience. 

Setting up a new Live Chat messaging program can present a number of challenges. That said, with the right strategy and mindset, credit unions can get off on the right foot. Not only will this provide their members with the seamless experience they deserve, but it can ease the pressure on call centers. 

Choosing a Platform that Serves You

The platform you choose is an important choice that will not only define the digital experience that members receive but also determine how easy it is for advisors to carry out their responsibilities. It’s more important that the platform meets your credit union’s specific situation and needs. You should consider a few key steps before selecting a platform: 

Define Your Goals 

By first defining your goals, you can then work backwards to find the platform that best suits your needs. A credit union will be primarily concerned with customer service and will need a messaging platform that reflects this, as opposed to a more sales-based option. 

Look at Your Tech Infrastructure 

The technology ecosystem you currently have needs to be properly considered for digital transformation before implementing a new technology. While the messaging platform needs to have all the required features, it can’t come at the expense of your existing systems. This means it needs to be compatible with your current CRM and integrate with other technologies to perform as intended. 

Develop Paths to Context 

If a member calls a credit union, the nature of the channel means they often have to explain or re-explain themselves to get help. The same isn’t true for Live Chat, where any previous information or interactions are automatically recorded. The best platforms will not only record this information but make it easy for member service agents to gain context. Before launching a new channel, make sure that the team knows exactly where and how to gain an understanding of member needs as quickly and efficiently as possible using the new tool. 

Preparing Your Team for the Tech 

The best technology will underperform if those using it aren’t properly trained. Time and again, we hear about how empowering teams is the key to tech success and how a lack of internal training represents a roadblock to implement new processes. 

Employee experience is essential – you need a team of experts at your disposal for any new channel to be successful. Whether that requires hiring new staff or training up current employees, there are a number of traits you should look out for and nurture to help implement a new Live Chat channel: 

Being able to Multitask 

One of the main benefits of Live Chat channels is their ability to boost efficiency in real time. Unlike phone calls, which require a member service agent’s undivided attention for every member, the nature of chat channels allows multiple interactions to take place at the same time. Agents can assess a member’s eligibility for chat and hold multiple interviews via different chat conversations, bumping them up to the next level of support where needed. 

Quick Typing Skills 

Chat is an instantaneous channel. Unlike email communications or asynchronous messaging, replies need to be offered promptly, accurately, and with as much brevity as possible. What’s more, it also needs to be conversational in nature, incorporating emojis or other informal elements. That said, a certain amount of professionalism is still required, particularly with regard to spelling and grammar. 

Personable Over Text

Text-based communications can be dry, but there’s no reason they need to be. Conveying emotion is essential to build a rapport, communicate empathy, and build trust. While emojis are tools in achieving this, it goes beyond this. The best member service agents will have a high level of emotional intelligence and be able to naturally come across in a positive manner even through text. 

Critical Thinking Skills 

The nature of chat communications means that customers have little patience for slow responses. In fact, statistics show that if an agent doesn’t reply within one minute, 49% of customers will leave the chat. Unlike phone calls, there’s less wiggle room to engage in small talk while searching for an answer, so employees who are able to assess situations quickly and come up with resolutions are essential. 

Naturally Chatty 

The right member service agent needs to naturally enjoy talking on chat channels. After all, they will be engaging in multiple conversations for up to eight hours a day and if they don’t have this natural ability, it will quickly become draining – and later unsustainable. 

Building the Right Launch Strategy 

You are confident that you have the right platform and the right people. Now’s the time to get your new chat channel up and running to get an advantage in customer engagement excellence. But what’s the best way to do this? 

Slow and Steady 

With all the background work taken care of, it’s tempting to dive right in. However, this can lead to problems post-launch. It’s recommended that you take a slow and steady approach, beginning small and planning for multiple iterations. It’s also a good idea to set up an A/B test that gives a small percentage of your audience access to the chat button. Over time, you can then increase this percentage and are better able to gauge the difference it makes with real-time data. 

Choose a Pilot Team of Credit Union Employees 

Begin with a select group of member service agents before expanding to include the whole team. Ideally, these should be the individuals who best fit the characteristics of an ideal agent and have demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Keeping the team small will allow you to limit the impact on customer service as you test, and identify key areas of improvement. 

Get the Agents on Board 

Your member service agents are vital to the success of your initiative. If they aren’t convinced of the value of chat, then it’s going to be difficult for them to provide the excellent service that members expect. Employees need to see the value of the channel for both them and the member, or they are likely to defer to the methods of communication they’re already used to. For this reason, make sure to outline the strategic reasons you have decided to implement a new chat channel and point out the value they will also gain. 

Gradually Introduce Increased Chat Volumes 

Familiarity is a big factor in efficiency for banking services. While chat technology allows member service agents to hold multiple conversations at once, if you ask them to do this from the get go, it can easily become overwhelming. For new employees, it’s best to begin with one chat to manage and once they’ve mastered the basics, they can move to two chats, then three, depending on their efficiency and experience. 

Introduce Automation from the Beginning 

When everything is new, automation can add an extra layer of complexity to the task of mastering the platform. Without automation, it can prove challenging or even impossible for the independent team to keep up with the requests. The answer for credit union leaders is to introduce automation from the beginning – but with a plan to scale up its development and dependency as you go. 

Chat channels represent a valuable opportunity for credit unions, provided they are properly deployed. If you’d like more in-depth information on launching a channel – from developing the right mindset to avoiding common pitfalls – reach out to us, we’re happy to help. 

About Celero
Celero is a leading provider of digital technology and integration solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across Canada. Clients trust Celero’s proven track record delivering innovative banking technologies, digital and payment solutions, cloud computing, outsourcing, IT and advisory services.

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