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CUs call center collaboration to cut costs improve service
MADISON, Wis. (12/14/12)--Shared Service Solutions (S3), a groundbreaking collaboration among three credit unions, has initiated a process of combining each entity's call center operations into a single point of contact, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 

Bellco CU in Greenwood Village, Colo.; Bethpage FCU in Long Island, N.Y.; and State Employees CU in Linthicum, Md., are the collaborators.

Plans call for the S3 collaboration to transition the partners to joint operations for processing residential mortgages, consumer loans, credit and debit cards and deposits. The initiative is expected to deliver savings of millions of dollars annually and to improve the membership's overall experience.

The credit unions have a long history of cooperation and collaboration that is paying big dividends for members, CUNA said. Their Open Technology Solutions (OTS) alliance--formed in 2003--created value for the partners by adding scale and efficiency to the process of providing information services. By sharing the expense of operating computer systems and other technologies, the partners increased skill sets and service and reduced costs.

The need to reduce back-office redundancy through more cooperation and collaboration is one of the top strategic issues facing credit unions, CUNA said. Credit union professionals repeatedly tell CUNA this but, when asked, also say they don't cooperate or collaborate more because they aren't aware of successful efforts. With this in mind, CUNA recently created a repository to collect examples of successful efforts and to find ways to encourage credit unions, leagues and credit union service organizations (CUSOs) to share their stories. 

The site presents users with the opportunity to join a collaboration listserv, to share information about initiatives and to read about examples of interesting cooperative efforts that seem to make a difference. It also includes links to additional resources such as Credit Union Magazine articles and several Filene Research Institute studies. CUNA's goal is for the website to be used by credit unions of all sizes--not just small credit unions.  

To visit the site, use the link. 

"Visitors to the site also can sign up for the listserv and suggest a resource or add an anecdote," said Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics. "They also can use the provided link to add an example (or two or three) of an interesting collaboration initiative in their state. Finally, and most important, visitors should share this information with all credit unions in their state--large and small.  

"The benefits of cross-pollination and the potential to replicate successful initiatives can be great,' Schenk added. "The site is clearly not 'the' solution to the collaboration issue, but CUNA hopes visitors will that it is one small step in the right direction."
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