The Need for “Around-The-Clock” Customer Service

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Does anyone else feel as if too many of the local businesses you have relationships with operate on a “nine to five” mindset? As a young adult, sometimes I feel as if I need to use a personal day just to run errands around town. There are only so many hours in a day, and a lot to do each day, so one of the daily challenges becomes, “How can I change my daily routine in a way that I can work an eight hour day, clean the house, manage my appointments, and still get some R&R before the end of the day? Oh and remember to eat.”

The never-ending, personal to-do list: Go to work, health checkup, pay the bills, wash and fold laundry, dog vaccinations, grocery shopping, visit the credit union, dinner at the in-laws… and the list keeps building, especially during the holiday season.

So, let’s think. Most doctors’ offices are open from 8 AM until 7 PM, the vet is open from 8 AM until 6 PM, credit unions are open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, and you’re working from nine to five, leaving you very little time to get anything done. Plus, don’t forget that you are not the only customer trying to squeeze these visits in last minute, so your window is even more limited.

It’s unfortunate when a business’s hours of operations practically force the customer to work around their schedule. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Customers in today’s world need the companies they do business with to be easily available around the clock – not just nine to five.

Therefore, it’s important that credit unions find ways to make banking convenient for their members. What if your member cannot make it to the office before the branch closes for the day? What options, if any, are available for members to access their funds and manage their account when it’s convenient for their schedule?

Digital solutions are paving the way

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. Chances are you’ve had a website for decades. And by now your credit union likely also has added a mobile app to its portfolio. In combination with these services, credit unions can implement text banking, e-Alerts/e-Notices, mobile remote deposit capture and more to allow members to transfer funds, pay bills, cash checks, and verify account balances.

There’s no doubt as to the convenience of a mobile app. But, if it is cash that the member needs, what options are available to withdraw funds from their savings or checking account? Where can the member go to perform an ATM withdrawal? What service(s) allows the member to transfer funds from the credit union to another financial institution? What if the member needs to do something not available through an ATM or app, yet it’s nearly impossible for them to get to the credit union during open hours?

Extended hours may be an option

It’s not often that I have the ability of stopping into the office during business hours to receive the traditional face-to-face experience. Credit unions could consider hiring staff to work outside of their normal hours of operation. However, the credit union must then determine which locations will offer extended hours based on several factors. Which locations will benefit from this the most? How many members will use that location? How many team members need to be onsite? What kind of team members need to be available? Is it your loan team? Teller/member services? The back office team?

If the credit union cannot justify hiring extra staff or paying their current staff more to accommodate these banking needs, how can they be available to their members without adjusting their hours of operation? How can the credit union service the member who needs access to their account after five, and not just for routine banking they could do on a mobile app?

One option is to consider partnering with a vendor that can offer after-hours call support. Although they may not be able to accomplish everything your full-time staff can do, they will be a security blanket for members that simply want to know they can reach you even after the branch doors are locked.

If there’s one thing time has shown, it’s that technology tends to fill the gaps in human capability. So what’s coming up that might improve your convenience to members?

Are interactive teller machines and kiosks the future?

As an alternative to extending hours, credit unions could adopt new technologies in the industry and install interactive teller machines (ITMs). While these don’t completely replace the services a fully-opened branch could offer, ITMs allow members to perform dozens of transactions (e.g. opening new accounts, issuing money orders, ordering a replacement card, making 3rd party account deposits, etc.) and talk with a member service representative virtually if need be.

Members with access to ITMs can get what they need when it’s convenient for them, and carry out their transactions without needing to be at the credit union during business hours. Meanwhile, although a representative would be staffed on the other end of the ITM, that one staffer could serve multiple ITM locations at once. Before jumping in with both feet though, be sure to read up on what to know before starting!

We’re busy people; it’s nearly impossible to fit everything we need to get done in one day, especially when operating on tight business hours. As a credit union member, the self-service options my credit union offers make managing my schedule easier throughout the week. Credit unions needs to think of their members, whether first-, second- or third-shift, and consider how they can support them in their busy schedules.

Author


  • Assistant Manager, Client Services and Education, CU*Answers

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