Zipwhip Brings ‘Choice Over Voice’ to CUs Looking to Engage With Members

June 22, 2016

We talked to Mark Johnson of Strategic Link partner Zipwhip this week, who described how Zipwhip allows credit unions to engage with members through text messages to landline phones.

Almost a year ago, a PEW Research report found that more than half of teens with smartphones pointed to text messaging as their preferred method of communicating. As that universe continues to grow, so too might the emergence of business communication via text—including financial institutions.

We talked to Zipwhip, one early and intriguing entry into that space, about their platform which allows users to engage via text message to landline phones and how they’ve caught on with credit unions. Or, as Mark Johnson, Director of Sales—Financial Services for Zipwhip noted, a way for credit unions to roll out new service without rolling out new technology.

“Credit unions connect with members in a much different way than other financial institutions, in that, for credit unions, it’s not about customers. Their customers are members. We felt like our platform aligned well with how credit unions engaged with their members,” Johnson said.

Johnson, himself with a 20+ year background that spans from tech (Microsoft, Docusign to business, combined with a personal credit union connection, spoke highly and fluently of the seemingly-natural connection between the three. But what are the practical implications of using text technology to connect financial information with credit union members?

“We wanted to identify where two-way, informational and conversational text messaging best fit within departments of credit unions,” he said, before ticking off departments where Zipwhip has gained most traction (contact center, collections departments, loan servicing/operations). There are a few practical examples credit unions have found compelling:

“Let’s say you’re a member who has applied for a refinance, or an auto loan,” he said. “There are a number of different steps and communications taking place between you (the member) and the loan officer. Conversely, as a loan officer reaching out to a member, you’re often asking to update a tax form or for a change of address. Any type of conversational engagement via phone, now can take place over text message.”

The return for credit unions moves beyond merely holding a spot on members’ mobile screens. Johnson talked about how that return translated into other areas.

“Think about the member experience when calling. ‘Which button am I supposed to press?’ And there’s always hold time,” he said, before adding that two-way text messaging reduces hold times in support centers (less traffic coming through), and lowers phone abandonment rates.

How, exactly, does Zipwhip differentiate from a chat-based service?

“For credit unions to roll out chat service, a member is required to download a chat app,” Johnson said. But on top of that, members are hit with ‘app fatigue’ from downloading one app after another. “Also, what becomes problematic with chat, it requires some form of wifi activity, which can be intermittent,” he said.

“If I’m in the middle of a chat and my session times out, I can’t pick up where I left off.”

The chances are, at least half of you are reading this on a mobile device. And for Zipwhip, that’s exactly where they want to keep credit unions and their members.

“With Zipwhip, credit unions can text back and forth with members with the same ease in which members’ text with their family and friends,” Johnson said.

Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of collective action to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive, high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Try our new CU Match Up tool to find the right partner for your credit union’s business needs. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed at [email protected] today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2016 and beyond.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, [email protected].