Navy Federal Deploys Verint for COVID-19 Response

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Serving U.S. military personnel, veterans, Department of Defense employees, and their families, Navy Federal Union (NFCU) is the largest natural member/retail credit union in the United States both in asset size and in membership. The credit union has more than 23,000 employees and serves more than 9.2 million members.

Its contact center has 1,400 agents, who annually handle 30 million calls, 2 million of which are in the collections area (extensions, confirmation of repayment plans, etc.).

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge increase in calls coming into Navy Federal Credit Union’s collections department. To continue providing a high level of member service during uncertain times, the collections department leveraged speech analytics from Verint Systems to understand the scenarios affecting their members to better anticipate call volumes and expected payments, according to Jeff Bretana, the credit union’s supervisor of collections workforce management.

“Collections is its own group, it operates like a mini-call center,” Bretana says. The collection’s group has its own tiers and layers of workers for different types of work, including those who specialize in accounts seven to 30 days past due, a high-risk credit card group, a mid-stage consumer loans group, etc.

As with other collections operations, Navy Federal’s collections department attempts to work out plans with debtors to get them back on track, not to pursue more draconian collection methods (repossessions, lawsuits, etc.).

As the pandemic took hold, the collections team went from virtually no one working from home to 75 percent of agents working from home. At the same time, call volume spiked. The week of March 13, inbound volume doubled, the next week it tripled.

The Navy Federal collections department had worked through disasters before, including hurricanes and floods, but none had the impact of the pandemic, Bretana says, noting that hurricanes and floods are localized while the pandemic was worldwide.

“We had to eliminate bottlenecks,” Bretana says. “We eliminated the manual letter and let members know the information (typically in a letter) was on our website.”

With inbound calls far outpacing outbound calls, agents who were normally tasked with the latter were put on the former. Because many members and their spouses had lost income, those who were delinquent with payments were automatically extended for 60 days. The outbound calling list was prioritized to bypass those members for those who were more severely delinquent.

The credit union used Verint Speech Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Workforce Management, and other solutions to respond to the rapidly changing environment in which it and its members found themselves.

Speech analytics helped Navy Federal better understand what members were saying so calls could be routed more appropriately. Though with all of the changes the abandon rate rose initially, in just a little time, the credit union was able to bring the rate below 2 percent.

“There are people who have lost their jobs, they may be in the later stages of collections (so outstanding balance is lower); we have to be economical,” Bretana says. “We want to avoid all costs trying to collect from people who simply can’t pay us.”

Verint instituted a number of new programs for Navy Federal and other clients as a result of the pandemic. They included the following:

  • Speech Analytics:A free COVID-19 category and 12 additional business impact categories are offered, plus services to help tune the language model.
  • Desktop Analytics:This leverages an existing Desktop and Process Automation solution and adds application usage reporting to gain real-time insights to manage work-from-home employees. There is a setup fee for back offices and contact centers.
  • Communities:Secure employee/customer communities to communicate during the pandemic are set up (for a fee) in 10 days, free for 90 days.
  • Experience Cloud:Complimentary Working@Home survey programs are available to help understand how employees are adapting to the remote environment and how to support them.

There are still challenges with staffing; some have been sick, and some don’t have all of the technology they need to perform as they would in an office, Bretana concedes.

Yet the rest of Navy Federal’s call center has seen dramatic performance improvements since implementing the Verint solutions. 

The Payoff

Since implementing Verint's analytics solutions in its collections contact center, Navy Federal Credit Union has been able to do the following:

  • move 75 percent of its agents to work-at-home environments;
  • drop its call abandon rates to less than 2 percent; and
  • handle call volumes that doubled in one week and tripled the next.

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