Article

Tech Time: Let’s Talk About Member Service Strategy

hands typing on laptop that displays chat box where agent asks how they can help
By Dan Michaeli

3 minutes

5 reasons chat alone isn’t enough for successful digital engagement and service delivery

As member expectations continue to evolve, credit unions are increasingly seeking ways to deliver better digital service in real-time. While live web chat with a member service representative may have checked that box in the past, traditional chat alone no longer suffices for increasingly sophisticated, tech-savvy members who now expect more from their financial services providers.

In today’s digital world, consumers spend their time engaging with one another as well as businesses through a range of digital channels, including chat, voice and even video, and they expect these options from their financial institutions. While there is a time and place for chat, it should only be one component of a larger digital member service strategy, emphasizing context and seamless member interactions.

Those that ignore the broader digitization of member service and rely solely on live chat for online support will quickly fall behind. There are five key reasons why standalone chat falls short today.  

1. Chat is no longer a differentiator. While offering live web chat as an engagement option provides a convenient service channel, it has quickly become table stakes. In fact, Gartner estimates 85% of businesses will offer live chat in 2022. Because chat is perceived as a relatively simple add-on to an existing website, many businesses across all industries have used it as a first step toward becoming more digitally centered. However, not all chat features are created equal; the way your chat module interfaces with the contact center and integrates with other communication touchpoints is crucial to its effectiveness.

2. Chat has its limits. For questions around simple tasks like changing a password or checking an account balance, live web chat or even basic chatbots can be a great engagement tool. But what about more complicated matters like co-signing a loan application or suspicions of identity theft? Members don’t have the time to type long explanations, they and don’t have much patience to wait for slow responses from agents. For complex issues that are less routine to address, voice or video chat is much more efficient and effective. By offering the flexibility to switch from text chat to on-screen voice or video, credit unions will be able to deliver a frictionless, personalized member experience and decrease handle times.

3. Chat lacks valuable context. Both members and service representatives can become easily frustrated by the back-and-forth of a chat exchange. Implementing tools like cobrowsing (short for collaborative browsing, which allows a service rep to access and interact with the member’s browser) and screen sharing enhances the service experience and reduces engagement times, allowing the representative to see where the member is within your credit union’s digital domain. Allowing the member and service representative to be on the same page—literally—decreases the risk of miscommunication and even allows the member to follow along and learn how to complete the task themselves next time.

4. Chatbots are on the rise. Augmenting chat with AI-enabled chatbots has improved the member experience in many instances. Smart chatbots can deliver faster and more consistent service, enabling credit unions to serve more members with less effort and fewer service representatives. AI can also allow chatbots to learn and improve and determine when to seamlessly transfer members who require a more complicated response to a live agent via text, voice or video chat.

5. Chat is a starting point for better performance. Incorporating chat into the member service mix is a solid first step in improving digital delivery, but integrating other channels, such as voice and video, has been proven to yield even stronger results. By leveraging these tools together and compiling data from interactions on each channel, service representatives can be more proactive, better serving their members with a more personalized experience.

Chat is a useful tool for interacting with members, but it falls short as a standalone solution. Instead, chat should be viewed as one piece of a holistic solution that includes other communication methods. Credit unions offering sophisticated chat capabilities that seamlessly integrate with other communication channels, such as video, voice and cobrowsing, will be much better positioned to increase service efficiency, strengthen member engagement and deepen loyalty.  

Dan Michaeli is the CEO and co-founder of Glia, New York, a provider of digital customer service.

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