How video chat is helping credit unions bridge the language gap

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For credit unions that want to serve members whose first language is not English, one solution could lie in the use of interactive teller machines (ITMs) and remote video banking.

“We have always done our best to make sure we are serving the Hispanic community and also our regular membership as well – at least half of our staff can speak fluent Spanish,” said Tracey Miller, VP of operations at Mountain Home, Idaho-based Pioneer Federal Credit Union.

Miller explained that $467 million-asset CU adopted the POPin Video Banking Collaboration late in 2017. With a fleet of 18 ITMs, which now include the POPIn suite of services, the CU’s approximately 50,000 members can video bank via the web or using an ITM.

“The chances of having someone available who speaks Spanish across our POPIn platform is probably higher than going into some of our branch locations, but we try our best to have at least one Spanish-speaking person at each branch location,” said Miller. She added that if a multi-lingual employee is sick or out to lunch, Spanish-speaking members can use the POPIn solution at the branch.

Texas Tech Federal Credit Union is in the process of rolling out POPIn to its 22,000 members. Chief eXperience Officer Lisa Huertas noted that the CU is headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, in a county with at 32 percent Hispanic population.

“We believe this technology will help us in several ways,” said Huertas. “By leveraging our bilingual in-branch employees, we can assist those members who want to come to the branch physically. There is large portion of our population that might be underbanked or not feel comfortable [coming to the branch]. We want to be able to leverage the multi-lingual community.”

Camera-ready comfort

In January 2018 alone, Miller said, Texas Tech FCU fielded 104 POPIn calls. Initially, the solution was tested by employees, followed by a soft member launch. A successful marketing and advertising campaign was executed in March, and more than 550 members had used the service by May.

“We are adding about 100 calls a month,” said Miller, who added that she can’t “pinpoint” one specific age group that is using the solution — it is utilized across a variety of demographics. Employees assist video callers with membership applications, consumer loan applications and credit card applications, among other requests. Out-of-state members are also utilizing the service.

According to Tim Pranger, POPIn’s director of marketing, about 20 credit unions are currently utilizing the solution.

“We have seen an increase in adoption of mobile video banking as an industry as more and more credit unions become comfortable with adding a multi-channel video solution,” said Pranger. “This has also been driven by an overwhelming need to provide better digital experiences across channels that are not purely transactional.”

On average, Pranger said, it takes roughly six weeks for a credit union to adopt and roll out the cloud-based solution to membership. While internal staff training is required, he said beta testing is not.

“The most important part of this phase is selecting a very deliberate rollout strategy to ensure members have good experiences and that employees are comfortable,” he said.

Popular across many demographics

The POPIn service is customizable. Pioneer Federal CU, for example, calls it “My Pioneer Personal Assistant,” while Texas Tech Federal CU refers to it as “CUnow,” which is housed in a dedicated studio.

The $180 million-asset Texas Tech Federal CU is currently offering the service to members by appointment only. A new marketing campaign touting the benefits of solution will be launched in the third quarter of 2018, along with the credit union’s upgraded website.

“Part of our staged roll out was to staff properly. The last thing we want to do is roll this out to the entire membership and it’s never available,” said Huertas. “It was key for us to first roll out our appointment scheduling solution so members do not have to wait on hold for an available agent.”

The CUnow studio supports six employees. White the statistics are still coming in, Huertas anticipates an average of two to five minutes for video concierge calls – which is similar to the current call center times – and 15 to 30 minutes for lending engagements.

To better understand membership needs, Huertas explained that the credit union has fielded responses from an 18-member focus group, 35 percent of whom are over the age of 60. Nearly 80 percent of respondents were in favor of CUnow solution and 100 percent found it “easy” or :extremely easy” to use. The goal, she said, is creating convenient banking experiences for all members.

“I think a more mature demographic is impressed and appreciative of this technology,” said Huertas, adding that the CU has 6,000 active mobile banking users. “People are using video technology in their daily life, so it is the right time because people are comfortable with the video medium. It makes sense to bring it into the banking medium.”

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