Six controversial ways contact centers will transform in 2014

We can agree that several member experience trends, such as the rapid use of mobile applications, SMS for member service; and leveraging unstructured data for developing member insights are all being applied into a credit union’s growth strategy as we enter 2014.  However, there are also some interesting and controversial points worth considering when building strategies to improve the member experience for your credit union.

Controversial Point 1: Shift Positioning from the 4 P’s Towards Improving the Experience

While consumers still determine value from the 4 P’s (product, price, place and promotion), their purchasing decisions are now influenced within the context of the experience associated with buying and using the service.  Most importantly, this experience is largely shaped and magnified through the voices of the public’s shared perception.  If you are like the 80% of American’s surveyed, an anonymous reviewer has influenced a change in your purchase decision 1. For example, the rates and location of your credit union may draw initial interest but become far less influential when an online rating community evaluates the value of your credit union based on personal experiences.  Rating engines aggregate and publically amplify perceived value, now based more on intangible experiences, like the quality of the member service, rather than rate to feature ratios.

It’s because of this shift in the decision making process, and the social technology that makes it easy to intensify the public opinion, that the contact center is changing as well. Once seen as a cost of doing business, the contact center is now a significant factor in the public’s shaping of your credit union’s value.  Providing remarkable member service is no longer a subtle advantage but a critical component of your credit union’s viability.

What People Who Complain Really Want


Picture Caption: A recent study highlights the discrepancies between customer wants and what they actually receive. In most situations, an experienced contact center can remedy the situation. 3

Controversial Point 2: Measure the Member Experience vs. Measuring the Efficiency of Delivery

In 2014, contact centers will change the way success is measured.  The metrics will evolve from net promoter scores–measuring satisfaction or loyalty (NPS) with a member to the identification of “Wowing” a member and a Member Effort Score.  This evolutionary shift will change the emphasis away from quantifiable measurements such as average handle time, the number of times the first name was used and whether a cross-sell was offered. Instead, the metrics will evolve around qualitative measurements such as turning members into raving fans based on the quality of the outcome experienced and ease of doing business with your credit union.  In this manner, we create “very satisfied” members , the ones who will endorse and recommend your credit union.

A high-quality contact center has become a valuable asset within the Marketing team’s responsibility of growing the online rating of the brand.  In other words, the call center’s responsibility is to create share-worthy member experiences.  Through exceeding the member’s expectations, they are more likely to share a positive review of their experience, creating a trusted digital advertisement for your credit union.  The measure of success will depend on experience results versus efficiency measures.

Controversial Point #3: Conquest your Competitor’s Customers via Social Media

Member experiences, good or bad, are not all about you.  Your brand is constantly being compared to competitors, or even worse, not being thought of at all.

In 2014, there will be a major shift in how credit unions use social media to sway bank customers to become credit union members. Social technology will be used to collect data, potentially leveraging competitor errors or gaps to an advantage.  The image below represents a great example on how retailers are using social media to gain market share. By being proactive in social channels, you can conquest the social media user to build new relationships.



Picture Caption:  Conquest new members by monitoring conversations around your competitors and products on social media.

Controversial Point #4:  Develop Strategies for an Empowered Culture vs. Strategies for a Highly Efficient Culture

Scalable member-centric experiences require a supporting company culture.  The simple fact is you cannot sustain a remarkable member experience unless it is embedded into your leadership and reward structure. In 2014, a dramatic change from a low-cost contact center environment to a high-value, engagement center will take place, disrupting the traditional perception of the outsourcer.

A shift from militant driven efficiency metrics to a vision/purpose environment that rewards ideal outcomes begins with recruiting the right people to the training of your leaders.  Team leaders and executives have a primary responsibility to remove any roadblocks that deter front line team members from providing memorable experiences to the member. This ensures that the needs of the member are being served.  With empowered representatives, the focus is no longer on strategies to keep costs low, but to simplify processes that enable agents to support the member as if they were the member.

Controversial Point #5:  Reallocate Advertising Dollars to the Member Experience (Call Center) Budget

Member experience isn’t just something that impacts your brand but it is now becoming your brand. Some of the most successful brands, like Zappos and Starbucks, grew with very little traditional advertising.  Now they are two of the most respected companies, best known for their customer-centric culture and service success stories.

Fewer than 50% of people surveyed in a recent Nielson study still said they find paid traditional advertising credible.  Those numbers however are down 24% since 20092. Compare that to 92% that trust recommendations from friends and family, which is up 18%. So 9 out of every 10 global consumers seek out a non-biased recommendation from their networks. The intriguing part is that it is not just Facebook.  There are over 250 million blogs, forums and review sites that make it easy to share experiences within minutes of a positive or negative engagement.

With financial institutions needing to make resource-allocation decisions, I see advertising budgets transforming their allocation into the member experience department. While there is no formula for success in word-of mouth marketing, supporting a high quality, member service department that can quickly resolve issues, build a relationship, and make the customer happy, will earn a customer’s recommendation and positive review.  Simply, the voice of the member has much more power in terms of authenticity, trust, reach and influence than historical promotional efforts.    Marketers are quickly shifting to allocate promotional dollars where they can impact the referral promotional channel.

Controversial Point #6: Adoption of Predictive Analytics for Intelligent Call Routing

The way the member identifies with what your credit union’s values, the more loyal they will become. As leading brands revolutionize new technologies to personalize the experience, the market has become more demanding for personalized experiences.


Picture Caption:  2014 will bring scalable intelligent routing solutions to the market place that match the member with the best matched advocate personality.  This is accomplished not just by looking at skills but by analyzing the advocates past history with consumers that have similar attributes of the next caller.

Being able to understand how to effectively use third party and enterprise data will enable your brand to put predictive analytics into action. Moving into 2014, the contact center will place value on mining big data into useful pieces of information. This will give tremendous potential for credit unions to create a more personalized and intimate relationship with the member, increasing brand loyalty.  This marks a fundamental shift in how your members expect to be served.

The member experience has, and will, continue to grow as a top strategic priority.  This investment and focus makes the contact center more valuable as new and controversial paths shape the expectations and needs of the member.

1)     Reed,F. (Aug 2011)  80 Percent of Shoppers Change Purchase Decision. Marketing Pilgrim. Retrieved 11/26/13. From

2)     A Nielsen Report. (April 2012) Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messaging. Nielsen Report. Retrieved 12/17/13. From

3)     2013 Rage study sponsored by ASU Center for Leadership, designed by CMCC and conducted by NOVO 1.

Peter Schmitt

Peter Schmitt

Peter Schmitt is president and CEO of Dialogue Marketing, an award-winning customer engagement center. Schmitt has been a pioneer in transforming call centers into engagement centers driven to delight the ... Web: Details

More News