CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Nov 5, 2020
CUES 104: How Credit Unions Can Be Even More Empathetic and Effective in Their Collections—an Interview with Jeff Mortensen
Play • 17 min

Even before the pandemic, credit unions were the most empathetic collectors around. While credit unions clearly need members to pay their loans and credit cards, they have always approached collections with an eye for helping the member through financial difficulty and educating them about personal finance.

Enter the pandemic and many members were suddenly unemployed. Credit unions were on the financial front lines, working on ways to help, says Jeff Mortensen, VP/client services for the Financial Institution Group at CUES Supplier member SWBC, San Antonio, Texas. SWBC is the sponsor of this show.

“They clearly understood up front that they need to figure out how to help their members,” Jeff Mortensen says in the show. But they quickly discovered that calling their members every couple of days wasn’t helping them. “So they took a step backwards … and said, “Wait a minute. What’s best for our memberships and how can we help them?’ …

“They were proactive with it,” he adds. “Being proactive with it has been very successful for them. What they end up doing is creating loyal membership.

“The pandemic is an event none of us has experienced before,” Mortensen says. “Delinquency is something many of the members have never experienced before, either.” As a result, some members might feel embarrassed about getting a collections call. This can make self-service options like text or email great ways to communicate with members during delinquency.

But how can a credit union determine which communication channel a member really prefers? Mortenson says that can happen in one of two ways. The first is during member onboarding if a member specifically notes a preference for texts. The second is by watching member behavior. If a member more often responds to email, that is probably that person’s preferred method.

In the show, Mortenson talks about a new SWBC offering made possible by a partnership with FICO. This system helps track collections communications and, over time, discern members’ preferred channels.

“There’s no crystal ballt hat will tell us where delinquency is headed in the next few months. CUs need to be prepared at least on a temp basis to handle increased delinquency. They should consider adding multiple comm strategies for collecting delinquent accounts, including IVR, text and email with self-service capability. Omnichannel, along with the traditional collection models, will maximize their results.”

The show also gets into:

  •  Three things to do to prepare for the future of collections, no matter what the pandemic and the economy bring
  • Statistics supporting the value of offering texting as a collections communication channel
  • More details about the partnership SWBC has forged with FICO to provide members collections communications using their preferred channels
  • Plans for using the FICO platform for early, mid- and late-stage collections
  • The value of automation when volume is high


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