Founded in 1933 by Grand Rapids, Michigan school teacher Lloyd F. Hutt, Lake Michigan Credit Union has grown from its initial 13 members to nearly half a million members who entrust LMCU to manage more than 6.5 Billion in assets. Their trust is well founded—LMCU is rated among the highest in the nation for Return of Member by Callahan & Associates— meaning that LMCU gives back more to its members in the form of higher rates when they save and lower rates when they borrow.
The Challenges: Busy Branches, Long Waits
LMCU’s members-first ethos is that while innovation is essential, any modern changes must have old fashioned member service at their core. LMCU understood that they needed to “continue to evolve in order to stay relevant” while making it “easy for members to bank with LMCU” using their channels of choice, according to Alex Cornelius, LMCU’s Vice President for Retail Strategy. This challenge prompted their recent comprehensive member service initiative.
LMCU’s member service improvement initiative started with a nice problem to have: LMCU branches were incredibly busy. Many branches frequently had dozens of members waiting, and LMCU needed a lobby management solution. “An instant message, to the whole branch team saying, ‘The guy in a red shirt, in the lobby, wants to open an account,’ probably wasn’t the most effective solution—but that’s what we were using before,” says Mr. Cornelius. Members gave LMCU employees high marks for customer service, but at times complained about long waits at the branch, and universally disliked the “first-come-first-served” model.
Another challenge common for credit unions and for many of today’s service businesses was the issue of organizational silos. For LMCU, lending call centers were scheduling loan closings at branch locations without access to branch schedules, without knowing which branches were busiest or most convenient for the caller. And when members arrived for closings booked by the call center, the branch employees didn’t always have time to fully prepare for the meeting.
The Search For A Solution
LMCU considered building a solution in-house, but quickly realized how difficult creating and managing a complex appointment and lobby management system would be. Instead, LMCU looked for a reliable partner with a proven technology who understood their market. In terms of the technology itself, LMCU’s top priorities were that it be easy to use and configurable, compatible with text and email, and that it allows for members and staff to self-manage appointments. LMCU also wanted the technology to be available as a single sign-on and simple for LMCU staff to learn and flexible enough to fit within existing LMCU systems and processes.
After careful consideration, LMCU chose Engageware as their partner, noting that no one else had Engageware’s depth and length of experience, impressive client satisfaction scores or renewal rates. “Engageware checked all of our must-have boxes,” adds Mr. Cornelius.
Implementation: The Solution In Action
LMCU’s Scheduler implementation was carefully planned and executed with Engageware’s help. After development, training, and a 30-day internal soft launch, Phase One went live with Click-to-Schedule, adding a simple button to the existing LMCU website and enabling member email/text confirmations and reminders. Phase Two added branch signage, an email blast, and a convenience campaign to build awareness. LMCU then collected feedback from users and employees and worked to improve the user experience with intuitive scheduling links on product/location pages, email signatures, and bio pages. LMCU was intentional about addressing any perceived issues as soon as possible to keep the positive momentum going.
LMCU appreciated that Engageware’s scheduling buttons were simple to add to the LMCU website, maintained the LMCU brand look and feel, and that visitors to the LMCU website stayed on the site while scheduling. After adding the initial scheduling button at the top of the website, LMCU added additional links to allow members to schedule meetings from specific pages like credit cards or mortgages. When the member or potential member arrives at a branch for their scheduled meeting, LMCU knows the topic of discussion, and is prepared ahead of time.
LMCU also installed eight self-service kiosks at their busiest branches, allowing members with appointments to check themselves in, or walk-ins to let the branch team know what they’d like to discuss.
Feedback from LMCU employees and members has exceeded all expectations, as have ROI numbers. Branch managers consistently report that the lobby management solution is working beautifully, and they love having access to specific information to control wait times, manage appointments, and quickly serve walk-in traffic. Branch employees also love the kiosks because they’re instantly updated on who’s arrived for which appointment, who’s waiting and what their needs are. Silo issues have been torn down now that all departments can access centralized schedules, and branches have information about each member and their needs before they arrive. Rescheduling is simple, and members can do it themselves.
LMCU plans to pilot the use of mobile tablets—using the Concierge system already on employees’ PCs—to allow employees to assist members anywhere in the branch.
Based on the marked success using Engageware in their retail banking and mortgage business, LMCU is also considering extending the technology to additional business units.
LMCU recently launched Reserve with Google Powered by Engageware, allowing members and potential members to schedule appointments directly from Google searches. Continuing to combine Engageware’s user-friendly solutions with LMCU’s focus on member service will produce marked growth and, most importantly, excellent member satisfaction.