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An early bet on video banking pays off

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Like many small credit unions, BluCurrent CU is trying to stay competitive in an overbanked market. In 2012, one thing became clear: change needed to happen in order for the credit union to grow. BluCurrent needed a solution for long wait times in its branches and an inconsistent member experience.

Remaining competitive with a much smaller bottom line than the top 100 banks – who carry more than 75 percent of the market share – creates a unique challenge. BluCurrent was faced with two options: hire additional staff or turn to tech.

Staffing can be expensive and arduous. The greater the staff, the harder it is to ensure consistency. To leverage its resources most effectively, BluCurrent turned to tech.

In 2012, BluCurrent adopted Invo Solutions’ video banking software. While video banking has become commonplace, that was not the case back then. It was a leap of faith, in a sense; a smaller credit union making the decision to be a first mover. BluCurrent agreed to pilot the technology in all three of its branch locations.

Video banking has use cases outside of what you might be thinking. Sure, you can add a video chat feature to your website to open accounts remotely, but you can also utilize the technology in your branches. BluCurrent chose to start with video banking in its branches and later, once it had the technology down, expand to its website.

In utilizing video banking, BluCurrent centralized its member service representatives to its back office. This helped with consistency, efficiency and a more personalized service level. When members were surveyed about the experience, 97 percent ranked it as positive.

Video banking has also significantly helped with wait time. Previously, one branch could be slammed with long wait times while another sat empty. It also significantly reduces the work being done in the branches. Anything outside of a traditional teller transaction is handled through video. The efficiencies create more time for MSRs to inquire about members other financial needs, increasing cross-sales by 20 percent.

To help create a more comfortable member experience, BluCurrent chose to renovate its in-branch offices. There continue to be one or two offices for manager and assistant manager roles, but all others are designed to accommodate members. The offices were renovated to create a more homey, comfortable experience. Members spend more time in the video banking rooms than in the actual lobby.

One differentiator in BluCurrent’s video banking process is that it does not require any physical interaction from the staff; rather, it’s a seamless digital experience. A liaison position will guide the member to the office and hit a start button. From there, the member works with an MSR to complete the interaction.

Risk-taking pays off

BluCurrent’s risk on video banking has truly paid off. From a staffing standpoint, it’s created a three-to-one desk-to-employee ratio. While BluCurrent continues to grow, its MSR staffing numbers have remained stagnant.

“Thanks to video banking, our members have a reduced wait time and a more comfortable, consistent experience,” said BluCurrent President Craig Tabor. “The improved user experience shows if you look at why we’re opening new accounts rapidly, 55 percent come directly from member referrals.”

Video banking isn’t just for small shops, either. Credit unions from across the country of all sizes have started adopting the technology. The $1.5 billion-asset HAPO Credit Union recently announced its plans to offer video banking for its 155,000 members. Video banking has the scalability to work for all credit unions of all sizes. It also comes in handy for branches located a great distance away from the main office.

No more horror stories

The implementation process often scares credit unions away from trying new technology. Horror stories of cards or online banking being down for an extended period are enough to ensure caution. Video banking can be implemented in as little as a single day. Staff training is quick because MSRs are already familiar with the job functions. Video technology also creates coaching opportunities. Supervisors can watch a difficult call with a staff member and coach them through how to improve their responses.

Next time your credit union is evaluating hiring additional staff, consider options on the tech side. More staffing isn’t always the answer, sometimes technology is. BluCurrent and credit unions across the country are turning to video banking for greater efficiency and improved member service.

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