Reflecting on how technology has enhanced the service credit unions provide to members.
When I joined my first credit union almost 30 years ago, the member experience looked a lot different than it does today. Member service was limited to business hours—with the exception of Thursdays, when the credit union was open until 8 p.m. so members could deposit their paychecks. Online banking, mobile deposits, digital signatures, online loan applications with automated decisioning, and any number of other technological advancements were still many years away.
As I enter my 32nd year as a member of a credit union, and my 21st year working in the credit union space, it is truly amazing to look at how technology has enhanced the member experience as well as the expectations of the individual member.
As it has in credit unions and in every industry, technology has certainly had a big impact on how collateral protection is delivered. At State National, as we approach our 50th anniversary as a company and take a look back at our beginnings, it’s funny to think that we used to transcribe insurance information onto 4” x 6” notecards and store them in filing cabinets.
Or that each notice had to be typed out before it was mailed to the borrower.
Or that the only way to get a borrower’s insurance information was via postal mail from the insurance carrier or client.
Today, almost every task we perform for our business partners and their borrowers is completed with the help of technology, with one goal in mind: to enhance the member experience.
Utilizing Today’s Technology to Benefit Members
Those of us in the industry understand how collateral protection products can be viewed as detracting from the member experience as opposed to safeguarding the collateral and protecting the institution. This is why we are constantly looking for ways to prove that belief wrong by minimizing borrower impact and enhancing the borrower experience with technological innovations like WRAP, Web-Based Robotic Automated Processing.
WRAP uses AI robots to search for and verify insurance information for borrowers online, instead of having people do it. Verifications that used to take minutes can now be completed in a fraction of a second.
Artificial intelligence is also being used to pay claims—again, increasing efficiency while eliminating human error and paying certain claims in as little as 6 seconds instead of taking days to process as they did in the past.
Other ways technology is making life better for members include Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) that teaches computers to “read” insurance documents and update them to borrower loan records, and APIs that facilitate additional automation by streamlining communication and connectivity between software applications.
While many of these types of program enhancements take place entirely behind the scenes, they all add up to more insurance being verified more quickly and accurately, thereby reducing notices going out to members.
Tech Innovation in Borrower Communication
Emails and text messages allow a CPI provider to communicate with borrowers and gather their insurance information quickly and easily. While some members still prefer to speak to a contact center representative (whose ability to provide great member service has also been transformed by behind-the-scenes technology), these two avenues provide greater flexibility to communicate and successfully resolve the insurance issue in a way that works for each member.
Continuous Improvement Is Not Optional
Technological advances have come a very long way in a relatively short period of time. Whether you are a financial institution or a collateral protection provider, it’s not enough to just hang your shingle and say that you are open for business—you have to meet your customers at the intersection of convenience and technology. In this day and age, more often than not, that means that you have to be constantly innovating and enhancing your product, whatever it may be.
The game has changed significantly since I joined my first credit union. It’s anyone’s guess what the next 30 years will bring, but one thing seems certain: By then, what we are doing today to provide a positive member experience will probably be as antiquated as extended hours on Thursday nights are to us now.
Frank Oppedisano is a director of client services with more than 21 years of experience and positive results working with credit unions. He successfully coaches and trains a team of State National Client Executives to build strong business relationships and create strategic long-lasting partnerships.