By Frank Kovach
Today’s call centers – once viewed as strictly operational cost centers – have become accountable for not only revenue generation, but can also contribute to the bottom line. In fact, efforts within the call center to drive higher member satisfaction can directly impact credit union revenue. Credit unions should seize the opportunity to turn their call centers into revenue centers using the following tactics:
Based on an average credit union size of $250 million to $3 billion in assets, an estimated 15,000 calls per month and average revenue as reported by the NCUA, successfully selling to only 10% of callers can lift your credit union’s annual revenue by more than $1 million.A significant amount of revenue is also generated in call centers with loans. Investing in specialized training for agents to increase their ability to cross- and up-sell products will pay off.
Creating teams can maximize employees’ skills. For example, utilize your best sale reps as mentors to others. Agents often learn best from their peers when they feel comfortable asking questions. In a similar vein, build small teams of employees to foster an identity and sense of mission among team members, along with friendly competition.
Shift Call Monitoring
While the primary purpose of call monitoring is to review agents’ call handling and ensure quality service delivery, expanding the goals associated with call monitoring can help your call center achieve greater results.
When reviewing longer calls, utilizing a scorecard that tracks items the agent did or did not mention can be a helpful tool to provide feedback to that agent in particular or as a learning tool for other agents.
On a similar note, creating a sound library of well-handled calls can be a great resource for new employees as a “how to” guide for how your credit union expects calls to be handled. It is also critical to improving sales as it can teach agents how to spot potential openings to cross- and up-sell, and it enables agents to hear firsthand how calls should be handled.
It is also important to make sure agents do not miss opportunities to keep members engaged when reviewing short calls. For example, when asked about loan rates, research conducted by PSCU shows agents will provide the rates but fail to ask for an application more than 60 percent of the time. Agents should be trained to provide supplemental materials in addition to the specific information requested. When speaking with non-members, agents should always provide information about membership and ask whether the caller has interest in joining after answering the initial questions.
Address Low Hanging Fruit
Pay attention to the small things. Are your agents closing the deal on every possible opportunity? Are they providing loan applications and seizing opportunities to highlight high value, “sticky products” like bill pay, mobile and online banking when explaining checking accounts? Are your agents asking new callers to become members?
Also consider whether there are processes in place that work against your agents. For example, is cumbersome paperwork cutting down on agent availability? Ensuring you address these questions and others like them can boost revenue and turn your call center into a well-oiled selling machine.
A clear, easy and specific incentive plan – “I sell this, I get this” – can increase engagement and ensure agents are focused on a clear goal. These plans can tie back to credit union-specific goals, like having the ability to invest in more products focused on growth and profitability. Plans should be flexible as product strategy evolves but formalized and signed by all agents. Strong, continual support from senior management is also key.
If credit unions take the time and invest in some – or all – of these tactics, their call centers will evolve into revenue centers and add to the organization’s bottom line, as well as provide the service members need and expect from their credit union’s call centers.
Frank Kovach director of Contact Center and Operations Consulting for PSCU’s Advisors Plus engages with credit unions to identify cost savings and improve operational efficiencies through process change, increased employee engagement and deployment of technology. Frank focuses on driving improved execution through a solid understanding of key relevant metrics, critical components of employee engagement, logical process flows, and implementing incentive plans to enhance performance and sales. His 30-year career in financial services includes extensive experience in back room operational departments and call centers. For more information, visit AdvisorsPlus.com.