CUA may be Australia’s largest and oldest credit union, with $15 billion in assets and more than 550,000 members, but it shares the same overarching challenge that plagues other credit unions and community banks around the world: Namely, the up-hill battle of trying to compete with the scale of big banks.
“We simply don’t have the same dollars to invest in digital like many of the big banks do,” said Nicola Lambie, CUA’s Head of Sales and Service Transformation. “We’re facing declining visits to the branch, higher operating costs, and really working through how we can be more relevant to members.”
1600 member downloads in initial 6 months
CUA has taken a number of steps to up its game in areas of differentiation. For instance, it has re-imagined its branches to establish them as community hubs where local residents can come and use the branch’s space for their own needs. It is also planning to upgrade its contact center technology.
But trying to stitch together the technology needed to digitally replicate personalized service can be daunting.
“We’re playing catch up all the time, and you quickly realize that you’re never going to catch up,” said Lambie. “So, you have to really focus on what you can do to deliver the best member experience with available resources.”
The Power of the Human Middleware
Banks used to greet customers personally and act as trusted advisors when it came to life’s big decisions. CUA sought to revive this in its business, and that’s what the Temenos Infinity Engage platform has enabled.
Infinity Engage rebuilds that connection by enabling customers to choose personal advisors to help with their banking needs. Through the CUA Engage-powered app, iM CUA, members simply text their advisors whenever they have questions or need help. No more call center queues or frustrating chatbot interactions.
“We like to call it a modern technology with a distinctly human touch. It blends that human and digital interaction seamlessly.”Nicola Lambie, Head of Sales and Service transformation
CUA started small, with four banking advisors on iM CUA providing the business case for a general rollout. It quickly scaled to a centralized team of 15 advisors, whom members pick based on profiles that detail common interests, mutual life challenges, or similar big decisions. Those advisors are fast becoming the connective tissue linking CUA with its members via iM CUA.
Jeffery Kendall, Temenos’ executive VP of North America sales and distribution, believes the human element sets Infinity Engage apart in a market that seeks to leverage the benefits of digital while tightening relationships with customers.
“Infinity Engage represents a heartening corrective to the notion that digital solutions must always lead to a loss of human connection”Jeffrey Kendall, Temenos’ Executive VP of North America Sales and Distribution
iM CUA Delivers Tangible Business Benefits
Even a digital solution designed to engender human connection still needs to deliver measurable benefits. iM CUA has managed to do both.
The app has been received enthusiastically, and once members are using it, 80 percent report feeling a stronger connection with CUA. The credit union’s overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) is significantly higher among members using iM CUA, and given early anecdotes of members using the app to seamlessly take care of financial tasks, it’s easy to understand why.
“We’ve had an example of a home loan being written throughout a day by somebody who’s been at work and messaging in between her meetings,” said Lambie. “That transaction just simply wouldn’t be possible without iM CUA.”
80% of iM CUA users report ” a close personal connection to CUA”
The bond that the iM CUA app is building between the credit union and its members is delivering bottom-line impact: app users are availing themselves to more CUA products, and iM CUA advisors are closing more sales than expected in all categories. What’s more, Lambie reports that sales volume via iM CUA is significantly higher than other channels.
The app also is resulting in other, harder to measure benefits, such as spurring CUA to re-imagine existing business processes or create new ones. The credit union is actively looking for other ways iM CUA can improve its business.
Breaking Through Digital Walls
Lambie sees Engage-powered apps like iM CUA as nothing less than the beginning of a revolution, one in which banks and credit unions rediscover what it means to rebuild trust and connection with members. “We’re seeing so many banks building digital walls between their customers and themselves. The drive is to focus on self-service, because we believe that’s what members want,” Lambie said.
“But actually, human beings thrive on connection with other human beings, and when they’ve got a problem or an issue, or just want to bounce something off another human being, that’s where a product like Infinity Engage comes into play.”Nicola Lambie, Head of Sales and Service transformation