Vibrant Credit Union Moves to Video Banking with Sharpen

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Vibrant Credit Union, which provides financial services throughout the greater Moline area in northwest Illinois, faced a common dilemma in banking: The No. 1 factor customers still consider when opening an account is whether a brick-and-mortar location is nearby, but at the same time, those customers “rarely walk into it,” notes Steve Ducey, chief experience officer at Vibrant Credit Union.

“Today, you still need to have [a brick-and-mortar location], but…staffing it, the way that it has historically been done, is really daunting from a management standpoint and an expense standpoint,” he says. “It’s a challenge.”

But Vibrant found an innovative solution: video kiosks at its branch locations. And it did so by employing Sharpen’s cloud contact center platform; the vendor’s omnichannel solution includes a video capability that has allowed Vibrant to improve its member experience while cutting costs.

Vibrant has moved to more efficient staffing while simultaneously operating more branches. Before the Sharpen deployment, Vibrant had 25 full-time employees and eight branches. Now it has 13 full-time employees and 16 branches.

Under Vibrant’s old model, its members could wait up to an hour to talk to a loan officer during busy times. The problem was inefficiency: “One of the big reasons that we had 25 bankers before is we had the people physically in the branch, we had the people handling inbound phone calls, and we had people dedicated to outbound phone calls—outreach to our membership.” But with the kiosks, Vibrant can now employ what Ducey calls “cross-utilization,” in which all their employees are handling all three functions. The 13 loan officers can juggle video interactions, inbound calls, and outbound calls depending on their availability; when an officer is occupied with a video call, for instance, the next video engagement or inbound call is automatically routed to the next available employee.

“Before it was kind of a divide-and-conquer scenario,” Ducey explains. “[Now] our bankers handle inbound phone calls, inbound video calls, and outbound phone calls all at once, so their productivity as individuals has substantially increased.” And with the video kiosks set up at branch locations, the full-time employees have been moved to Vibrant’s corporate center, making it easier to train them and manage performance.

The switch to video kiosks has led to a substantially better customer experience—the average wait time across phone and video channels is now just one minute—and to a big reduction in costs: The staffing decrease has yielded a total annual savings of $840,000

Going forward, Vibrant plans to partner with Sharpen on an artificial intelligence initiative. “I look at our data…and nearly 70 percent of our calls have the ability to be answered by artificial intelligence and to be processed through [AI],” Ducey says. “And so I look at where we can go with somebody like Sharpen, I believe that there is a tremendous amount of potential and opportunity to continue leveraging their knowledge, their skill set, and their ingenuity [to where] we should be going as a business and driving that digital experience and that efficiency forward.” 

The Payoff

Since implementing Sharpen's contact center platform, Vibrant Credit Union has seen the following results:

  • established an average wait time of one minute across its phone and video channels;
  • reduced its number of full-time employees from 25 to 13, yielding a total annual savings of $840,000; and
  • doubled its number of branches from eight to 16.

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