Call centers provide human touch when self-service reaches limits

As we move through 2016 and the rest of this decade, member service will continue to evolve between self-service based on digital technology and the efficacy of the human touch.

In a world where direct human contact seems to be losing ground to email and texting, the sound of a real human voice such as that provided by a call center can be a significant business asset when a credit union member needs help or wants to conduct a more complex transaction.

The value of human interaction in a business environment was spelled out recently by British marketing consultant Mark Master in an article on Business2Community. “When a company makes a human connection, as opposed to a digital connection, we create a completely different platform to build a relationship,” he said. “People want humanity and openness, not a special offer that runs out at the end of the month.”

A call center such as the CO-OP Member Center can be a powerful advantage in today’s digital, arm’s length world. In fact, with the rapid advance of financial technologies, 24/7 call centers have become more important than ever.

“The self-service culture has conditioned consumers to expect to be able to conduct their business at any hour,” said Carol Cline-Parton, Vice President, CO-OP Member Center. “And this is only magnified by mobile phones and the Internet, which have led consumers to expect to be connected to anyone, anywhere, anytime, including their credit unions.”

People love self-service, but there’s clearly a limit, which is often reached when members need support with the emerging payments technology they have in hand, detailed questions about account status and applying for an auto or personal loan.

As Cline-Parton puts it, “When self-service reaches its limit, members will want to reach out to a live person for assistance.”

CO-OP Member Center provides support for payment innovations such as Sprig by CO-OP for mobile banking, the Apple Pay or Samsung Pay mobile wallets, CardNav by CO-OP alerts and card control solution, and kiosks enabling shared branching transactions at an ATM.

Buyers – i.e., those in need of a loan – are making their purchases after-hours more than ever. CO-OP Member Center’s 2015 after-hours auto loan activity increased by 20 percent compared to 2014. In fact, after-hours loans accounted for 35 percent of CO-OP’s total loan application production last year (including phone and Internet applications).

“In many cases, timeliness trumps loyalty, especially when it comes to buying a vehicle,” said Cline-Parton. “So, ‘if you snooze, you lose:’ the possibility of losing a loan because a lender is closed for business is very real.”

Third-party call centers make it easier and more cost effective for credit unions to offer round-the-clock lending services, helping to ensure that revenue opportunities are not missed.

“Call centers play an integral role in member loyalty, a role that is perhaps ironically only growing with the rise of self-service,” said Cline-Parton. “Just as importantly, a third-party call center can be contracted to scale up and scale back with the changing needs of the credit union. Institutions need to be right-sized all the time today, and outsourcing call center needs really is resource scalability at its best.”

Learn more about CO-OP Member Center here.

Bill Prichard

Bill Prichard

Bill Prichard is Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, for Co-op Solutions (, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a financial technology provider to credit unions. Prichard can be reached ... Web: Details