In 1970, West Michigan Computer Co-Op, Inc. (WESCO) organized as a non-stock cooperative to provide low-cost data processing service for credit unions. 50+ years later, CU*Answers has partnered with over 200 credit unions in 28 different states in the country.
The CUSO has grown significantly in its half-century run, and so have the teams that operate within it, working to support credit unions around the clock.
Meet the team
One such team, the Client Services and Education Team has worked extensively over the past few years to increase its availability to credit unions. Primarily based out of the CU*Answers corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the team currently has eleven client services representatives—comprised of seven Level Ones, one Level Two, and three Account Executives—that are staffed between the hours of 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM Eastern Time (ET).
But software support doesn’t stop after 6:00 PM ET for the team. Thanks to CU*Answer’s recent increased expansion out West, with the opening of their Innovation Center in Las Vegas, the Client Services and Education team has added additional support hours to be available for their credit union partners in that area, running until midnight Eastern Time. Furthermore, they offer after-hour support for urgent matters that cannot wait until the next business day.
Understanding the different roles
But what exactly is a Client Service Representative? What do the different levels represent? How can credit unions know who best to address their questions to?
To start, the Client Service Representative position is responsible for answering incoming calls and triaging a client’s need for appropriate resolution and/or escalation. There are two different CSR levels.
The Level One Client Service Representative is a client-facing support role and supports credit unions as it relates to software inquiries. The position is the entry-level position, where the learning curve ranges from 6 to 12 months from their start date with the CUSO. For that reason, they have a formal escalation policy where calls can/should be escalated to more seasoned support, as needed.
The Level Two Client Service Representative, on the other hand, is responsible for answering incoming calls and escalations from the Level I Client Service Representatives. The Level Two Client Service Representative provides software support, performs research, and offers training to support credit union staff and operations.
The primary difference between the two is that we expect our Level two position to be certified in pre-conversion courses. This includes courses such as Open/Close Memberships/Accounts, Member Inquiry and Phone Operator, Teller Techniques, etc. Additionally, their Trainer Certification status opens doors for our Level Two position to travel to client sites to offer in-person support for critical events such as “Live Week” (the credit union’s first week on the new core system).
Lastly, we have our Account Executive (AE) position. As mentioned earlier, the Client Services and Education Team offers 24×7 support which means you can reach them outside of the usual business hours of 7:30 AM – midnight ET. Account Executives are scheduled for “On-Call” Support to address urgent issues that cannot wait until the next business day.
The CSRs are asked to perform initial research and assist with documenting issues with our software so that our Account Executive Team can submit project sheets to our Programming Team to address concerns reported by our clients. Also, because of their expertise in multiple areas of the system, our Account Executives often assist with sales demonstrations for new or existing clients.
Their first day usually includes a meet and greet lunch with the management team to bring them up to speed on how the CUSO is different from other core processors in the industry. Ultimately, the goal is to have new team members ready to answer incoming phone calls within 30 days of joining the team.
The official training plan continues throughout the trainee’s first 90 days with the Client Services and Education Team. However, it doesn’t abruptly end after the completion of their 90-day introductory period. The education continues by looping CSRs into client-facing training such as Pre-Conversion Training Sessions and Post-Conversion Transition Group Calls. There are usually several opportunities available for cross-training every month of the year, so it’s easy to plug them into courses that allow them to deepen their knowledge of the Core System.
Team leaders understand that there is a lot to learn. That’s why the learning curve can range from 6 to 12 months. To make this easier on new employees, the team offers a mentorship program, in which they pair new CSRs with seasoned Account Executives to better grasp the material in the training plan.
There are Incident Review sessions set up several times a week so that mentors and mentees can sit down to review questions and concerns. These sessions also usually include 30 minutes to learn something new about the software. Because everyone has a different learning style and preference, the goal is to rotate mentors every couple of months so that our Level Ones have an opportunity to learn from all our Account Executives.
Does your credit union have a mentorship program? If so, what does it entail? The Client Services and Education Team is always looking for ways to shake up their program and keep it exciting for staff to participate in!
Trainer certification and travel opportunities
Whether out of state or around the block, clients can attend CU*Answers University webinars for free, and without the cost of travel, making this a very cost-effective option. Webinars are a great choice for those who prefer a virtual learning environment that involves some level of interaction with the instructor and other participants.
When a Client Services Representative approaches their 1-year anniversary, they begin the Trainers Certification Program. The goal is to become certified in the following courses:
- Open/Close Memberships/Accounts
- Member Inquiry and Phone Operator
- It’s Me 247 Online Banking
- Teller Techniques and Shared Branching Options
- Xpress Teller Techniques
- Head Teller
- Employee Security
Becoming a Certified Trainer opens doors for our CSRs that allow them to travel onsite for support during a credit union’s conversion to the CU*Answers core. Even as they begin that journey, the team sends seasoned travelers with them to show them the ropes before assigning them to a project without a team member by their side to assist.
Here to help
As you can tell, the CSR team takes its new employee training and trainer certification efforts very seriously. It can take nearly a year to fully adjust to the role, and the process of becoming a Certified Trainer can sometimes take an additional full year or more! This is to ensure that they are offering their credit unions the best possible support.