Most Valuable Callers Given Phone Priority

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Atlantic Credit Union's "most valuable" callers are now pushed directly to the CU's most skilled and knowledgeable call center representatives via caller identity technology,

"We're making sure that the most valuable of our members receive an extraordinary experience through the call center," explained Marianne Stewart, call center manager at the $262-million CU.

When members call in and enter a six-digit account number, the call center system queries the CU's core processing system to identify and prioritize members according to their relationship.

"High-touch" members go directly to the highest priority queue staffed by three seasoned call center representatives, without having to press another button, said Carol Humenick, executive vice president at the 33,000-member CU.

Other members are prompted to select one of four queues-loans, online services, plastics, or general inquiry, she said.

The system also automatically sends calls from members with delinquent accounts to the CU's asset recovery department, said David Reis, vice president of IT.

Atlantic CU began using Oakbrook Terrace, IL-based Apropos Technology's Multichannel Interaction Management Suite last month.

Call center operators get a visual queue on their desktops of each member who is waiting, and the operator can view each member's history on a pop-up window.

The multi-channel queuing system integrates voice, e-mail and fax interactions, with voice receiving highest priority. Next year, the CU will filter web interactions into the queues.

"The system is a large driver of our CRM culture," Reis explained. "Previously, with our standard Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system, we didn't know which of our members were contacting us or how, and now we do."

Humenick added that 11% of Atlantic Credit Union's membership produces 174% of its profit. Therefore, Atlantic CU thinks it's important to "reward members who participate more fully in the cooperative."

The system does more for the CU than segment and reward members, Humenick continued. New call center representatives now go through a more straightforward training process, for example.

Previously, representatives might encounter a call regarding an issue they weren't trained to handle. The call would have to be transferred to an appropriate representative, explained Humenick.

Now that calls are divided into four areas, she said, new agents can be trained to answer calls in one area before accepting calls from additional areas.

Agents are also able to call back members who hang up just by bringing up an abandoned call report. "We've already returned a call on a hang-up from a high-touch member, and the member was impressed," said Humenick.

With the new system's tracking capabilities, Atlantic CU found that its 13 call center agents fielded 1,900 member interactions in the first week of operation, said Stewart.

At the same time, average call duration has increased to 11 minutes from five minutes with the previous ACD system, Stewart said.

"Apropos is a new application for us," Humenick explained. "Agents are still learning. We expect that calls will go back to the five-minute average duration in the future."

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