NAFCU Services Blog

Jan 20, 2022

The Digital Branch: How One Credit Union Is Meeting Their Members Where They Are

By Rick DeLisi | Lead Research Analyst | Glia

Credit unions are unique financial institutions, existing solely to serve their members. In a digital age, particularly in a time when in-person interactions can be out of reach, new approaches must be taken to maintain a high level of service whether or not a member can visit a branch.

Char SearsChar Sears, AVP of remote experience at Unitus Credit Union, spoke on a recent training with NAFCU about improving the member experience. “We have a motto of meeting members where they are. That’s not only their preferences but where they are in their financial journey and supporting life defining moments. For service delivery, digital is key. We need to work with agility meeting our current members needs while also attracting new members. So its not only the ability to pivot and adjust, but having the buy-in and desire across the organization to transform and deliver digitally in new ways.”

The approach Unitus is taking with their digital branch is addressing an issue that is not unique to credit unions. Service organizations across all industries are seeing a need to increase the access of their services to their customers, constituents, or members.

Rich DiLisiRick DeLisi, co-author of Digital Customer Service: Transforming Customer Experience for an On-Screen World, points out in the interview that “the way people think, act, behave, interact is dramatically different than it was even a couple of years ago. We are tethered to some screen or other most hours of most days. When you think about how our behavior has shifted to living in an on-screen world, and you see that a sizable percentage of member service still occurs on the phone, it’s a mismatch to how humans live their lives day to day. As people continue to adapt, so should service. The least that any organization can do is serve their [members] in the way they live, which is on their screen.”

In early 2020, with the need to quickly shift to remote customer support, Char and her Unitus team used circumstances as an opportunity to grow the way they serve their members. “When it comes to Glia’s cloud-based model, it enables us as a Credit Union to deliver quickly with lighter lifts internally. Glia has scalability, availability, and security… it’s improving how we approach interactions through our digital channels: Chat, video banking, co-browsing, and on screen tools for our members have been highly impactful. We are becoming more efficient, we’re getting more accomplished, and improving the member experience along the way.” Char states. “Getting Glia up and running and maintained is such  a light lift… for all the credit unions out there, it’s something you definitely can do and you can support it with a very small team."

Rick Delisi quote

Operationally, a digital branch can have measurable benefits. With tools to analyze and report on key data points, and functionality to see member interactions in real time, cloud-based contact centers like Glia deliver strong benefits to the member. Char goes on to state that “Unitus [has] seen handle times significantly drop on those lengthy troubleshooting calls… in the first year we saw over 22,000 members reach our virtual branch. Our ratings are in the 80s and 90s for recommend, we also track membership growth, loan growth, and see that they are performing at the top of the list throughout our branch network.”

Jeffrey StawJeffrey Staw, CIO for Open Technology Solutions, works with credit unions that represent over 1 million members in over 50 branches. Jeffrey mentions “the operational benefits start to come out when you scale things. I think about on prem vs cloud data centers… one of the things that we enjoy from this migration is we have a reduced burden of support. You don’t have to patch, upgrade, there is a basic layer of security that is provided… put people to work doing value-added activity rather than doing support and upgrade activity… they can figure out ways to interact with members and improve their lives rather than being the people that update day and night.”

Operationally, the cloud is a tool to shift resources to strategic initiatives. The ultimate goal of a Credit Union is to maintain and add members, and having available technology to safely deliver services to members with ease is a major driving force for success.

Char mentioned that “conservatively, well over half the calls (8,000-10,000 calls) at Unitus, members are already on a screen… if you can meet your members on the screen, it’s a whole new way to serve. You jump right in there with them. It decreases handle times, it decreases frustration, you are enabling your members to be more self-sufficient and reduce dependence on live service.”

While Credit Unions can experience unique challenges, developing a digital strategy is paramount to continuously raising the bar for members. With measurable impact on the customer experience and operational efficiencies, organizations are using the cloud to focus on impactful tasks that improve the service delivered to members.

For more information on how Credit Unions are innovating with the cloud, contact You can also request a complimentary copy of Rick DeLisi’s book: Digital Customer Service: Transforming Customer Experience for an On-Screen World.

Glia is an Independent Software Vendor delivering an omni-channel cloud based call center. As an Advanced Amazon Partner Network (APN) partner, Glia and AWS collaborate to deliver innovative solutions to Credit Unions.

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