Connexus is a credit union with a presence in 50 states and a mission to foster prosperity for all its members. The institution’s leadership group is well-known for putting exceptional member experience at the forefront of every decision, from process improvement to changes in terms or fees, all the way through to technology selection and implementation.
Connexus is notable for investing in multiple FinTechs, being an early adopter of new technology, and creating a robust digital channel for its far-flung member base.
As a rapidly growing credit union, Connexus increased its call center headcount ten-fold in less than 10 years. The team was seeking a way to address the needs of its growing member base through technology that would enable more efficiency at scale instead of relying solely on adding more agents.
Improving the call center experience through voice authentication was on the radar for the Connexus team even before the pandemic. Then, like all credit unions, Connexus experienced a massive increase in call volume in the contact center as the result of temporary branch closures in 2020 and 2021. Even after branches reopened, many members continued to rely on phone communication more than before, making it essential to address average call handle times and speed up the process of serving members.
“As we continue to grow and scale as an organization, our call volume is growing and scaling. We realized that we could solve part of the challenges of scaling by using technology to enhance the role that our member contact center agents have today, making the authentication process easier on them and much easier on our members as well,” said Craig Stancher, Director of Member Experience.
Connexus also grew substantially via acquisition over the years, bringing more members on board to be served via its centralized call center. Often, members at these smaller community credit unions were used to having their calls answered by employees at the local branch who knew them well. Now, these members were expected to call a contact center and speak to a new member services agent who didn’t know their name, their face, or their voice.
The Connexus leadership team encountered Illuma at VentureTech 2019 when the FinTech startup was awarded Best of Show. In contrast to other voice authentication providers that focused on large call centers with thousands of agents, Illuma offered a right-sized solution built for credit unions with state-of-the-art technology and far less complexity.
“Researching the competition left a bitter taste in my mouth. The big voice authentication providers wouldn’t even do a demo for us. I found out their threshold is a minimum of 1,000 agents in a contact center. Any organization smaller than that isn’t worth their time. So, I looked for a provider that does serve organizations like ours, and I found Illuma. We were one of their first clients, and they’re now a marketplace leader in their space,” said Chad Rogers, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
As an early adopter of voice authentication, Connexus stood to substantially improve operational efficiency and account security while further strengthening the reputation for exceptional member experience with existing and new members. By working with Illuma, Connexus also had the ability to collaborate in fine tuning the Illuma Shield™ product to precisely meet the needs of the credit union market.
After a successful pilot program, Connexus has now made voice authentication available to its base of more than 430,000 members. With an average of 63,000 calls per month coming into the call center, more members are enrolling each day. Enrollment has also been high for members brought in from mergers with other credit unions, helping improve brand trust by creating a warm, welcoming tone and immediately recognizing members when they call in.
“Members are often amazed or impressed when they find out that they’ve been authenticated just using the natural sound of their voice during the introduction of a call. We get a lot of those wow moments,” said Craig Stancher, Director of Member Experience.
With an average of 78 seconds saved in the member verification portion of each call, the increased operational efficiency is the equivalent of one employee workload per day. The system is far more resilient in the face of account takeover attempts, and no fraudsters have been able to defeat the Illuma Shield™ voice biometric defenses.
Connexus has been using the Tethr conversation analytics platform to gauge member experience in the context of Illuma Shield™. Sentiment analysis has shown consistently positive responses and substantially greater overall satisfaction in calls for members enrolled in voice authentication. Agents are more empowered to address members’ concerns, questions, and transactions more quickly, and maintain a positive rapport on calls.
“Our leadership team, and the Member Contact Center as a whole, are very passionate about creating a positive, less disruptive form of member verification. Voice authentication can reduce the length of time spent on validation questions and has made it easier to get down to solving a member’s issue quickly. Illuma Shield™ and the voice authentication process improves the member experience and helps our team be more productive,” said Tina Stroming, Manager of Member Contact Center Operations.
KEY BENEFITS FOR CALLS USING VOICE AUTHENTICATION
“Illuma Shield™ has allowed us to shorten our average call time by over a minute. That might not seem like a lot, but it is. It helps the member save an extra minute on the phone, and it helps us get through more calls more quickly. Operational expenses go down, agent productivity goes up, and all of that is wrapped in the package of a better, more exceptional experience for the member.”
Illuma is a provider of CUNA Strategic Services, a California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues business partner. Click here to learn more or to get connected.
Illuma, a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), specializes in voice authentication software that replaces traditional knowledge-based authentication practices in call centers. Illuma provides frictionless voice authentication and fraud prevention for credit union contact centers to substantially reduce call handle times, improve member experience, and increase account security.