Branch transformation, customer experience and avoiding fraud concerns not just banks, but credit unions as well. ATM Marketplace interviewed Andrew Ryan, vice president, FI dealer channel, Hyosung America and Terry Pierce, director, product management, Co-Op financial services to find out what are the top concerns of this segment of the marketplace, what are the essentials in new technology are credit unions exploring and what products can make a good credit union even better.
Credit unions can be confusing to potential customers. A credit union may look like a bank and have ATMs, customers and tellers like a bank, and even offer loans and account servicing like a bank but credit unions aren’t banks.
“Credit unions are non-profit, member-owned financial institutions offering competitive loan and savings rates. The credit union philosophy is people helping people,” said Terry Pierce, director, product management, CO-OP Financial Services.
But that doesn’t mean that credit unions don’t work like banks or want to leverage technology to increase the customer experience, because they do. But are credit unions ready to move forward in a world that is so different than it was last year and with technology that uses biometrics. AI, self-service and contactless cards? According to Hyosung, a North American ATM provider, the answer is a resounding yes.
“What makes credit unions so great to work with is their collaborative spirit,” Andrew Ryan, vice president, FI dealer channel, Hyosung America said in an email interview. “Credit unions are built to serve their members and prioritize member experiences. We love this dynamic, and see credit unions as the innovators and early adopters of new technology in the FI space.
Because many credit unions operate on local charters, it can be difficult to quickly build scale to support new ideas, however.
“The good news is that credit unions are generally very collaborative and share a lot of information through their leagues and credit union service organizations that can help us gain traction through those networks,” Ryan said
The pandemic: Creating new avenues of innovation
The pandemic affected credit unions much in the same ways it affected banks.
“Many credit unions closed their branches or limited foot traffic at the branch due to the pandemic,” Pierce said. “They encouraged (their members) to use digital channels such as call centers, mobile payments, ATMS or ITMs to promote social distancing. Branch visits were limited to appointments during shortened service hours,” Pierce said .
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has been a game-changer,” Ryan said. “The pandemic is moving the concept of ‘Branch Transformation’ off of the white board and into execution mode. With limited or no lobby availability, CUs are looking for expanded self-service options, like those Hyosung offers through certified core integrations, for their members.”
However, brand transformation is something Pierce believes CUs are ready to explore.
“Post-COVID-19 branch strategies have accelerated branch transformation implementation as credit unions look to improve branch efficiencies, reduce costs and improve the member experience,” Pierce said . “From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an acceleration of new technology. For some customers, the transition to a mostly digital process was uneventful; for others, who had never attempted online banking, the concept may have been daunting, but eventually they caught on,” said Pierce.
According to Ryan, two of the key topics in transformation and transitioning discussions with CUs is ‘contactless’ and self-service ATM functionality.
“We are coordinating with the major processing networks to enable NFC functionality that has been in all of our FI products for some time. With extra pressure on drive-thru lanes, CUs are increasing investments in Teller Cash Recyclers in order to improve efficiency and member service,” Ryan said .
Technology and rededicated staff
Technology matters to all financial institutions, and credit unions are no different.
“There is a CRM tool technology that Hyosung is launching as part of its ATM application suite that will enable credit unions to use member specific information to promote products and manage multiple targeted campaigns through its ATM screens,” Ryan said.
Pierce agreed that technology will play a large part in helping CUs be competitive in the future.
“Technology such as self-service ATMs allow credit unions to be competitive in the marketplace and improve member engagement and loyalty by delivering convenient, modern and innovative services 24X7,” Ryan said.
Another issue? Customer experience. This is a key issue for both bank customers and credit union members. Like banks, credit unions are looking to meet and exceed the customer experience. And what type of hardware and software a CU has or doesn’t have may play a part in the customer experience.
“We think the best way to improve member experience is through expanded and easy to navigate self-service terminals,” Ryan said. “Through certified core integrations, we aim to give members the ability to execute any transactions that they would be able to perform through their CU’s online banking platform, but with the added capability to accept cash and check deposits and dispense cash.
“Our case studies show that this technology can effectively manage more than 90% of the transactions most tellers perform in their working day, Ryan said. “Imagine the value to members if those branch personnel could be rededicated to more consultative and less clerical member engagements.”
Rededicated employees, according to Ryan can help credit unions understand how to reassign or position staff that handled tasks that technology can now perform to higher-value tasks. By rededicating or redeploying team members to where they are most needed, provides a streamline vision overall.
“We are focused on helping banks and credits unions operate more efficiently. The primary financial benefits arise from the redeployment of people to higher value-added tasks.” said Ryan. “We have case studies that document credit unions that have reduced branch staffing expenses by more than 50% after deploying our advanced self-service terminals. Maybe even more interesting, we have case studies that document credit unions that not just reduced staff, but have redeployed staff and, as a result, have seen an increase of more than 20% in branch revenues through more meaningful engagements with members.”
Like any industry, there are and will be challenges with the credit union segment of the marketplace.
“Credit unions’ place an emphasis on customer service and value the implementation of automation in a way that still feels personal,” Ryan said. “Partnering with credit unions to ensure that new technology is introduced in a way that preserves a personalized and high touch approach can be very challenging. Managing cash is an inherently friction-filled task, and working with each credit union individually to understand their member service goals is critical in helping them create an efficient operational environment that also meets the needs of their members and fulfills their organizational vision,” said Ryan.
For credit unions, Pierce said a major challenge for CUs and CU members is fraud.
“ATM security is top-of-mind for credit union ATM owners, that, and ensuring that they protect their ATMs from physical and logical attacks as well as identity thefts. There are multiple best practices for protecting the security of systems and networks,” Pierce said.
Keep it consistent
Like any financial institution, CUs want to ensure a customer has a consistent experience across all channels, and according to Ryan, one way to ensure this is to have a consistent look.
“If the credit union is able to offer a consistent look and feel inside the branch, on their website, via their mobile app, and at their ATMs, members feel comfortable and confident during those interactions. Hyosung’s state of the art software allows a complete customizable experience that the credit union can provide their members during a transaction at the ATM,” Ryan said. “Not only by adding their logo and colors to the welcome screen, but each screen throughout the transaction can be made to look and feel just how the credit union chooses.”
“Credit unions are looking for ways to offer frictionless experience as their members navigate their financial transactions between branch and digital channels, such as the ATM. Members expect simplicity and ease in every interaction with a seamless and personalized ATM experience.” Pierce said .
“At Hyosung we are inspired each day to create new solutions for our customers. Our financial institution customers inspire us to drive industry-leading innovation and these solutions, in turn, inspire them to improve their customers’ experience,” Ryan said . “Credit unions can trust their partnership with us to bring the latest innovation to create custom solutions to allow more efficient operations and improve their members’ experience.”