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How Implementing a Modern Call Center Helped a Polish Credit Union Better Serve Members During the Pandemic

The following post was provided by the National Association of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (NACSCU), World Council's direct member association in Poland. It was written by Lukasz Nowak of Centrum Credit Union.

The COVID-19 pandemic that began impacting Poland in March 2020 affected all financial services markets and, in particular, Polish credit unions.

Our members cherish traditional values, and face-to-face contact with front office employees is very important to them. The true support of Polish credit unions to their members in everyday financial choices was put to a serious test. Poland faced restrictions in access to bank and credit union outlets by mid-March.

The board of Centrum Credit Union set up a special project team to address the situation and find effective solutions to support and keep in real touch with members. The project team was led by Polish Edition WYCUP Scholarship recipient Lukasz Nowak, and consisted of young specialists and experienced credit union movement professionals. Among the other project team members was Rafal Sokolowski, recipient of the 2008 WYCUP Scholarship.

Centrum Credit Union decided to support its members in this particular time with advanced technology. A call center was implemented to provide credit union members with true contact and support.

The implemented solution consisted of:

  • SIP trunk (a virtual connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network) with a call center support main system in SaaS (Software as a service).
  • Integration and support module (ISM).
  • Customer relationship module (CRM).
  • Central database to collect all data from each system in one location.

The true challenge was to integrate the above-mentioned modules to ensure a consistent and efficient system. The call center was implemented with a wide model approach. Call center workstands were scattered across several credit union branches in various locations. That enables employees to stay close to their homes without changing their office location. The back office system is located in Centrum Credit Union headquarters in Bytom, Poland. In this difficult time of COVID-19, implementing a wide call center model enabled Centrum to run the project instantly, because employees can log in and serve members directly from their homes.

The call center and CRM solution provided support in contacting members and providing them with the best-tailored offers. The main goal was to give Centrum Credit Union support and to keep in touch with members to offer them special products every three months. Data collected in the call center module, CRM and central database provided employees with knowledge about the financial needs and habits of each member their preferred method of contact.

The integration and support module automatically creates a list of members each day who are eligible for special offers. Several rules have been created and implemented that are automatically checked every day. As a result, members who have made at least six payments of a loan, paid half of a loan off or have just six payments or less left are offered special products automatically. These members appear in a call center system list and are contacted by call center employees. The problem of losing members was also addressed. The ISM also searches automatically for members who paid all their loans or moved services to another financial institution, allowing the credit union to respond to that fact instantly and present extra products or services.

In the call center module, an employee has information about the financial services of each member and their history of contacts with Centrum Credit Union. All queues are loaded automatically to the call center module and dialing the numbers is also automatic. This makes the work of call center employee fast and efficient. They can focus on building relationships with credit union members instead of dialing numbers manually and searching for information about financial products for every member.

The call center system enables also sending text messages or email messages to credit union members when they can’t answer the phone or when this is their preferred method of contact.

Implementing the call center system, along with recording all contacts and statements of members, allows employees to present a member a binding offer of a loan without inviting them to the credit union branch. Thanks to documentation and a remote contact verification process developed by the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), it is finally possible to conduct the entire credit process remotely and without requiring a credit union member to leave their home. 

The solution has given both members and credit union true benefits:

  • Centrum Credit Union made its financial products more accessible;
  • relationships with credit union members are now more profound;
  • members appreciate actions taken by Centrum Credit Union board to maintain contact and support in this difficult time.

Centrum also knows more about its members, their financial habits and choices, because information about all contacts (call center, SMS and letter), member experience or feedback, and the results of these contacts are stored in central database. This provides the credit union with true knowledge about members and about the methods of contact they prefer. This knowledge helps the credit union create better products and better understand the individual financial situation of every member to better satisfy members’ financial needs.

The call center project also triggered changes in Centrum's motivation program. They developed a special reporting module as a part of their CRM. The goals and efficiency of every employee is monitored. Every employee receives online feedback about his progress and sales results. That allows management to monitor the realization of tactical and strategic goals. It benefits employees as well. Each one knows instantly the amount of his commission for every contract. The motivation program was upgraded to be strictly parallel with the credit union's strategic goals. When a credit union member contacts several departments at a branch through the call center, the CRM helps employees exchange information and monitor the status of the member's case. Every employee knows that status and can provide the member with the exact information they need.

The CRM system also supports contact and information exchange between employees, building a true knowledge database. The system makes employees work easier and more efficient, while Centrum Credit Union's member experience has become even more positive.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Poland forced strategic changes at Centrum Credit Union, but proved that, as an organization, they could implement difficult projects and respond to challenges fast and flexibly. In just 30 days Centrum managed to create a professional call center system integrated with its other existing systems. 

The results speak for themselves. Centrum has seen:

  • 67% increase in meetings with credit union members (as a result of specialization among call center employees)
  • 52% increase in effectiveness in finalized transactions (as a result of possibility of presenting a member a binding offer by phone).
  • The average sales of loans in May 2020 was higher smaller than in May 2019, despite the pandemic.
  • A positive impact on credit union operational costs.
  • Specialization in the sales department that allows better adaptation of the training to the needs of sales employees. For example, telemarketing training is addressed only to call center employees instead of addressing it to the entire sales staff as before.

We believe the test the world has been exposed to will make our existing business respond even better to the needs of our members and improve the financial efficiency of our organization. Our solutions are promoted among other Polish credit unions as well.

We believe that a strong and effective credit union movement will grant a better future for our credit union, allowing us to give better support to local communities, which we are an inseparable part of our movement.