Advancements in technology won’t replace front-line employees’ jobs, but it will change how they do their jobs and interact with members.
Three operations leaders—Chris Court, vice president of accounting and operations at $376 million asset Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Danville, Pa.; Dawn Grohskopf, director of branch operations at $217 million asset UnitedOne Credit Union in Manitowoc, Wis.; and Laura Wallace, vice president of member care at $10.6 billion asset Alliant Credit Union in Chicago—provide input on the future roles, responsibilities, and skill sets of contact center/member service representatives (MSRs).
Court: Contact center staff will be all-inclusive for every channel a member can and will use. They will become more important as we try to make members feel like they are in a branch, no matter where they may be located.
Smartphones are—and will be used as—the vehicle to take members into a digital branch. We have to get used to solving face-to-face requests via digital when asked.
Phones scan our face, eyes, and fingerprints. We can click on an app that has a personalized experience for us because it stores our login info.
At some point, we will turn all of that into a seamless personal experience and answer questions before members even know they want to ask them.
‘See yourself as a digital change agent.’
Grohskopf: It's already been changing to provide a more convenient and personalized experience for members through our contact center. Ten years from now, instead of working out of cash drawers on a teller line or sending money back and forth with a drive-thru tube, our team members will continue to assist members through a more virtual, face-to-face experience for routine withdrawals and deposit transactions.
Technology continues to improve delivery channels that will allow our front line to help more members in a variety of locations, all from the convenience of one location through those virtual options. What was once viewed as an entry-level job will become a higher-paid position due to the increased skills needed to provide higher levels of service.
Wallace: There will be a continued shift more toward technology support, more complex problem resolution, and deeper relationship building versus general inquires and transactions.
Court: Operations and problem-solving, so thinking on their feet is needed. The human aspect won’t go away from actual conversations.
But they’ll also need to be front-line technical problem solvers. Most credit unions can’t afford the resources to have a strict tech help desk for members. As technology becomes available, members will want to talk to a service support person, not a technical support person, to solve their problem.
Grohskopf: Strong computer skills and a love for technology. They can't be afraid to be on camera or talk through a headset as they help members with transactions or account questions.
Verbal communication skills, including clarity of words and tone of voice, also will be important. They’ll assist members with common transactions through interactive teller machines (ITMs), but they’ll also need to know how to troubleshoot problems that arise with e-services.
‘Embrace learning new ways to help our members.’
Wallace: To be a consultant, whether it’s knowing what questions to ask to quickly resolve a problem, educating a member on how to use a product or service, or identifying opportunities to build a stronger relationship. All of these situations require different talent and training than what is typical today.
The ability to think outside the box and be comfortable with empowerment to make decisions or recommendations will be of utmost importance.
Court: They’ll become “universal agents” who can carry on a conversation while solving a problem in the background, which is exactly what they do now. The inclusion of new technologies and being able to mimic what the member is seeing and doing will be key to solve problems quickly.
The operations of the contact center will expand from normal business hours to whatever hours the member wants. AI should be able to handle basic needs while agents are unavailable. The boundaries of where we work, where the member is, and what time it is will go away.
Grohskopf: Staffing will change from having a set number of tellers at each branch behind a teller line to having all contact center MSRs in one central contact center department, which will work together as a team to help members across multiple branches through video technology.
It won’t necessarily change the number of employees, but it will change the way we help our members. It takes less time to set up and balance out at the end of the day with technology, so most of the day will be spent engaging with members.
Wallace: Consultants will take fewer but more complex and longer calls, while simpler transactions or questions shift to electronic channels such as online banking, mobile, chat, messaging, and email.
Court: Become comfortable with every technology a member would use, explore all your digital offerings, and be able to understand where the member is running into difficulty.
The contact center will become change agents to work through member journey mappings almost instantly while working through their problems.
Don’t see yourself as just a problem-solver. Instead, see yourself as a digital change agent who will be empowered to make the process easier so an issue you just resolved won’t be a problem in the future.
Become comfortable in helping technology learn about your members. Google and Alexa are already solving problems before a person can ask a question. AI and your service will go hand in hand.
Grohskopf: Be open to change and embrace learning new ways to help our members. Technology continues to advance the front-line role into providing newer and more convenient ways to help members while providing the same level or improved service.
Change is inevitable and looking for more ways to learn new things will lead to continued growth over time.
Wallace: The focus on hiring or developing these skills in staff or building technologies to support the overall member experience should begin today. If we wait to change we will fall behind.