Providing members with meaningful interactions at the right time via the right channel is not a new goal for Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union. Affinity Plus FCU launched Engageware’s Appointment Scheduling solution in 2019 and planned to introduce POPi/o’s video banking during the fourth quarter of 2020 to further provide their members with more ways to connect via the right channel for them. However, the pandemic sped up that timeline and they launched video banking in August of 2020.
Affinity Plus FCU is a $3.7 billion Credit Union based in Minnesota. They have over 500 employees, 23 branches, and service almost 230,000 members. Their core values of caring, integrity, and adaptability are what drive all their decision making.
Why Video Banking & Appointment Scheduling
Like many financial institutions in today’s digital world, Affinity Plus FCU was already offering most services via remote channels. Yet they found their members still desire and value the meaningful relationships that face-to-face interactions with their team members provide. To meet member demand, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union chose to harness the power of POPi/o and Engageware’s Appointment scheduling solution to provide those meaningful interactions through scheduled video banking appointments.
In a recent Engage with Bankers session, Sarah Kuesel, Senior Manager at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union where she oversees the contact center, shared insights into why this partnership is so crucial to their member engagement strategy.
The Aha Moment
“Our ‘aha moment’ moment came directly from our members. Our members said it over and over; I need to talk to somebody face-to-face about this or can I talk to someone face to face. They said it over and over and eventually we said – ok, we will make it happen.”
The Engageware and POPi/o integration allows Affinity Plus FCU members to easily schedule a video appointment on a day and time convenient for them, wherever they want to take the appointment – at home, at work, on vacation etc.
“It’s really a collaborative channel to offer many services in a new and unique way. And of course, the best part about it for us has been that our members absolutely love it.”
Sarah Kuesel, Senior Manager
Member Feedback and Adoption
“Member feedback in this channel is truly beyond extraordinary. Our members love the convenience, coupled with the meaningful relationships they form with our team” said Kuesel. Kuesel has many stories she can share about how video banking has impacted their members, but one of the best was when they were able to help a member who had been laid off due to the pandemic. “He had just gotten back to work. And they needed to refinance their mortgage. And he could not take time off, he did not have any yet. And we said, no problem, you do not have to take time off to get a mortgage with Affinity Plus FCU. We will see you at work”. And he was able to have his refinancing meeting right there at his desk and did not need to take any time off.” Affinity Plus FCU has learned, two plus years into pandemic, that things will not be going back to the way things were and they have adapted to continue to provide great service to their members.
Benefits for Affinity Plus FCU Members:
- Extended banking hours
- Convenient scheduling at a time and location that works best for them
- Video appointments are shorter than branch appointments, but just as meaningful
- Easier access to specialty advising
“Member feedback in this channel is truly beyond extraordinary. Our members love the convenience, coupled with the meaningful relationships they form with our team.”
Affinity Plus FCU has found that video calls are shorter than in-branch appointments, but the relationships formed are just as meaningful and sometimes even more meaningful, because you are meeting the members in their environment. “You’re meeting the member in their home, it’s a really different experience when you’re meeting a member in their home, they might be doing the dishes, they might be taking care of their baby, you get to meet pets, you get to see their new plants, it’s kind of a fun experience.” It is a very personal experience where you get to really know your members and make a genuine connection.
Affinity Plus FCU Feedback
“Opening the video branch during a pandemic, the value of video banking for our organization and our members was crystal clear. We’re asking ourselves, does this mean we go back to who we were prior to the pandemic? I think the answer to that question is no, we believe that the lessons that we have learned have given us such great insight into what our members need and want, that we are ready to move beyond business as usual and try something new, rather than go back to the way things were. We want to extend our hours of availability to branch style appointments.”
Benefits for Affinity Plus FCU:
- Expanded hours and services without adding headcount
- Video bankers can be entirely remote employees
- Efficient way to provide access to specialty advising services
- New members opened in video banking average 2 more products/services than those opened online
- Video appointments are shorter than branch appointments, but just as meaningful
“Using the video banking channel to serve members in the virtual face-to-face world allows us to expand hours without adding to our staffing levels, and still have happier members than ever before.”
Full time video bankers can work from home, and each has their own backdrop that is collapsible. Every morning, the video bankers put up their backdrop and when they greet a member on video, the member is greeted with an Affinity Plus FCU branch-like experience, even though they are at home. Affinity Plus FCU can offer more remote positions and still offer the same amazing customer experience that one would get in-branch.
What’s Next with Video Banking & Appointment Scheduling
The use of scheduled video banking appointments was just the beginning for Affinity Plus FCU.
“Over the next month, almost all our member consultants will be trained in using video banking, which will create a unified remote workforce that can support extended hours without requiring additional staffing” said Kuesel. In looking at the needs of their members and analyzing the demand, Affinity Plus FCU is looking to expand hours and availability to their members using video banking. Later this year, they are extending branch service hours across the state of Minnesota without extending the hours of a single brick and mortar branch. This will allow Affinity Plus FCU to continue to serve its members without adding additional headcount or impacting the branch staff.
Additionally, they will roll out video banking to other departments to meet the demand for specialty advising. “As we move ahead and are planning for the future, we are training our business bankers and investment advisors, to use video banking. That way we don’t have to continue to hire a specialist in every single one of our locations. Rather, we can make them available through video. We continue to grow, we continue to learn, we take a lot of pride in our adaptability in this channel, which I think has been the key to our success so far and will continue to be in the future” shared Kuesel.
Advice for other Financial Institutions
In reflecting on what was the biggest challenge getting video banking off the ground, Kuesel says getting buy in from the senior team was actually easier than expected – they are always looking for digital solutions that empower their members. What Kuesel found most difficult was getting employees to try something new and to be brave enough to put themselves on video. People are comfortable with the channel they are most familiar with and for most that is in-person or over the phone. Getting team members buy in was where Kuesel put in the most effort and where she believes she has gotten the most payoff.
Additionally, Kuesel recommends having your employees become advocates to encourage members to try it. “I think the most important thing is that you must allow all your member-facing team members to experience it firsthand. That is where our biggest advocation and referrals come from, from the people that are working in the branch network. Our members trust those people, if they say, no, you can use video banking, our members tend to use it” Kuesel shared.
Video Banking & Appointment Scheduling
Scheduled video banking appointments have been a tremendous success for Affinity Plus FCU so far. They look forward to expanding both the video baking hours and specialty services to continue to improve the member experience and their overall efficiency.
Interested in learning how Engageware and POPi/o can help improve your customer experience? Schedule time to speak to one of our banking consultants.
Want to see the Engageware and POPi/o integration in action? Watch Sarah Kuesel demo the Engageware and POPi/o integration (5 minutes) >