With life moving faster than ever before, I find myself using my mobile phone daily—if not multiple times each day—to send money to my kids, check my account balances, or see what my family is buying after I get an alert on my wearable.
I am totally addicted to the self-service world that technology enables—and no, I am not a millennial, as my teenagers and my knees continually remind me.
Although I am a fan of self-service technology, I recently had a less-than-stellar experience when I attempted to pay off a loan.
Initially, I believed the self-service option would provide the fastest and most convenient approach. But after spending a few minutes on my PC, I couldn’t figure out how to pay off a loan.
After several minutes of searching FAQs and trying search engines, my frustration level increased and I resorted to calling the credit union directly. I answered a number of questions through the interactive voice response (IVR) system and was eventually connected to a member services representative who verified my identity.
After I explained that I wanted to pay off a loan, I was transferred to someone else who, again, asked to verify my identity. Finally, I was able to pay off my loan.
Everyone was very nice, but by the time I was done what should have been a “wahoo” moment turned out to be a frustrating head-scratcher.
Self-service and member services
While credit unions have been rapidly adopting self-service technologies for their members, some have not been developing the member service capabilities that go hand-in-hand with that technology.
So, for the most part, the movement is falling short at producing the high-touch member experience that high-tech innovation sometimes requires.
A decade ago, if members had questions they would call their credit union or visit a branch. From the beginning of the interaction, someone was there to provide immediate and meaningful responses and the most common frustration was limited to longer-than-desired teller lines or wait times.
Today, self-service technologies have set the expectation that people can get what they need from the credit union instantly. And, when they can’t, frustration sets in.
Many times, this results in the frustrated member calling the credit union, as I did. In order to ensure a positive outcome in such situations the member will need their first human interaction to be profound and responsive.
The ‘three-click rule’
Just as the “three-click rule” has become a best practice in user experience design, a member should be able to get an answer through person-to-person outreach within three actions.
Credit union person-to-person capabilities need to evolve at the same pace as self-service technologies.
Here are three ways to extend the high-touch approach:
1. Back up self-service with great member service. For years, phone systems have been engineered to reduce costs rather than to enhance the member experience. When members call, you can assume that self-service has not worked for them, or that they’re in a setting where self-service isn’t practical—say, if they’re driving.
Other industries have had success using authentication-based tracking systems that integrate online and mobile interactions with CRM platforms, thereby enabling faster and more personalized IVR system routing. The end result is often quicker service and less frustration for members.
2. Take the high-touch approach beyond the front door. Having a branch concierge is a great first step in greeting members and providing an immediate, positive interaction. But we need to take the high-touch approach deeper into the branch experience.
Proven concepts such as express lanes in retail and triage centers in healthcare provide interesting archetypes on how to make branch visits highly efficient with tailored experiences.
3. Create FAQs and self-help systems with frustrated members in mind. FAQs and self-help systems need to be written for the average member who may already be frustrated, as this is the group most likely to seek out these resources. Consider the average age of your members and their typical level of technology adoption and savvy.
Designing self-help systems with the average user in mind will guide the level of detail, graphics, and animation required for members to learn how to perform the desired transactions from the desired device.
When members embrace high-tech, their in-person interactions become less frequent and are more likely to be driven out of a need for assistance with a task they are unable to complete on their own.
To continue to set the movement apart from industrialized or online-only banking providers, credit unions will need to respond to high-tech adoption with high-touch member services.