LEWISTON, Maine — Five County Credit Union’s local call center is becoming the base of operations for a new kind of video banking in Maine.
Several Personal Teller Machines, which look like ATMs but offer personal interaction between customers and credit union service representatives, have been installed in Brunswick and Skowhegan. They have video links to call-center personnel at the credit union’s call center in Lewiston.
The $204-million, 23,853-member credit union is the first financial institution in Maine to offer the “uGenius Video Banking System,” including PTMs and “SmartOFFICE” stations at its branches.
Michael Foley, vice president of sales and business development for Five County, said, “This is all about being more convenient and more accessible.” He said benefits include keeping the person-to-person attributes of banking while optimizing staff activity and leveraging efficiencies of the operational footprint. The new PTMs also make it possible to reach more customers through extended hours.
Foley said more employees may be added to the 16-person call center staff in Lewiston as the video banking technology is deployed to other branches of Five County Credit Union, which has its headquarters in Bath.
Additional and specialized training was provided for the call center personnel. They still provide support services for all branches, including response to customer calls, but Foley emphasized that the addition of the PTM capability meant they had to become proficient at interacting visually with customers. He said there is about an equal mix of male and female call center employees. Some of them are tellers who transitioned from counter experience to the video technology.
Three of the new machines are installed inside Five County’s branch at Cook’s Corner, Brunswick. They look much like a standard ATM, but they are somewhat larger and side panels are bigger to provide additional privacy.
“This lets people talk with a real person and see a face,“ said Derek Beaulieu, service associate at Cook’s Corner. In addition to his duties behind the branch’s teller counter, he assists people at the PTMs. When a customer accesses an account, a call center representative appears on the screen. An identification process is completed and the customer continues with a face-to-face banking transaction rather than a button-punching routine. Money can be dispensed, but the video terminal also makes it possible to cash checks or to ask detailed questions or get more specific information than is possible at an ATM.
Both the Skowhegan and Brunswick branches have on-site hosts available to assist members with initial questions. Foley noted that members have reacted quite favorably to virtual banking, especially after being shown how easy it is to use.
In addition to the PTMs, the Brunswick branch has a video installation in a “SmartOFFICE” space behind doors and windows, so greater privacy can be accorded customers who may require additional banking services such as loan applications and new accounts.
Two PTMs are installed in Skowhegan at Five County’s Walmart Super Center.
Five County Credit Union was founded by the employees of Bath Iron Works in 1956 and was known as the BIW Employees Federal Credit Union. In 1993, the credit union converted to a state charter, and its name was changed to BIW Five County Credit Union. In July 2001, the name was changed to Five County Credit Union. A charter change in 2006 allows it to serve those in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo and Knox counties.