ICCU Drives Member Growth & Community Education with AI

Glia Virtual Assistant & Digital Customer Service helps CU attract, educate younger members

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Goals

digital-first service
Improve financial literacy within community
banking platform
Introduce AI within online banking & for Spanish-speaking members
digital-first service
Attract a younger demographic of members who value online banking

Outcomes

Automated answers to common financial wellness questions with branded AI bot “Ava Answers”, powered by Glia. “Ava” the bot becomes a branded education tool
Improved member support efficiency by implementing Glia Virtual Assistant on public website and online banking
Enhanced digital banking experience and drove member growth, leveraging Glia’s Unified Interaction Management platform
Expanded territory coverage in region, reaching beyond the range of 3 branches
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$120M in assets under management
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11,000 members
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3 branches

Driving Community Education and Membership Growth

In reaching its business goals, Illinois Community Credit Union (ICCU) has taken an innovative, unexpected approach: providing financial education using AI, then extending the bot to a branded experience that helps young people become new members. Leveraging the Glia Virtual Assistant Financial Wellness package, ICCU is providing 24/7 responses to the most common financial questions—proof that any CU can put AI to work.

ICCU has two strategic goals: educate the community on financial literacy and continue to expand its membership. A partnership with Glia helped ICCU accomplish both through cutting-edge technology.

Despite serving 12 counties in Illinois, ICCU has only three branches. But as more banking consumers are looking to do business digitally, ICCU has been able to attract more members across its geographic presence by creating a compelling digital banking experience.

Expanding Membership Appeal Through Digital-First Support

While many members still value the face-to-face banking experience, a growing number of members aren’t necessarily looking to visit a branch in-person. In fact, approximately half of ICCU’s members now don’t ever come into a physical branch.

Glia’s Unified Interaction Management platform is powering ICCU’s digital-first approach to support this demographic of members who prefer to bank online.

“We love seeing our members when they come into our branches, but we also love that we’re with them wherever they go,” said Adam Ferguson, VP of Operations at ICCU.

For smaller credit unions like ICCU that may lack the resources of larger financial institutions, providing a modern digital banking experience could seem unachievable. But through its partnership with Glia, ICCU has found a one-stop-shop for all its technology service needs—ranging from AI to digital customer service channels to phone solutions.

In fact, approximately half of ICCU’s members now don’t ever come into a physical branch.

All-in-One Platform for Longevity

Centralizing everything on one system, with a solution that’s purpose-built for the financial services space, was one of the key reasons ICCU decided to implement Glia. 

“It is advantageous, especially for smaller credit unions, to go to one place for your tech,” said Ferguson. “You want to simplify your technology stack as much as humanly possible because you just don’t have the bandwidth or the resources to have experts or developers in all of these different platforms.”

While some Financial Institutions may be looking to plug a digital channel gap or find an AI vendor, ICCU sought to find a long-term partner that it could continue to innovate with to remain at the forefront of providing excellent member service.

That Glia was an “elegantly simple” implementation, according to Ferguson—paired with the solution’s focus solely on financial services—made Glia the perfect partner for the credit union.

“The platform itself was a very good indicator that Glia is thinking about the long-term strategy and simplifying the technology stack as opposed to making it more complex,” Ferguson said.

Introducing AI Across the Digital Banking Journey

In addition to offering digital customer service to its members, ICCU has also implemented AI to provide quicker, consistent support online. ICCU saw AI as the perfect investment to complement its existing staff, onboarding an employee that can work 24/7/365 and one that can handle hundreds of members’ most common banking questions. 

“AI provides a single point of truth and it allows us to focus on those issues that need more human attention,” Ferguson said. “It performs that initial triaging for us.”

The turn-key nature of the Glia Virtual Assistants (GVA) that are pre-trained on tens of millions of real banking conversations and packaged with 800+ banking use cases, enabled ICCU to easily implement AI across different parts of its digital banking journey.

ICCU is also planning to implement the GVA in Spanish, allowing them to continue providing online resources to the Latino community. According to Ferguson, ICCU is the only small credit union in the region to allow website visitors to toggle between English and Spanish. By providing 24/7 support through the virtual assistant in Spanish, ICCU will be able to continue to provide strong service and grow its Latino membership.

“AI provides a single point of truth and it allows us to focus on those issues that need more human attention,” Ferguson said.

Leveraging “Ava Answers” to Improve Financial Literacy

Another key demographic for ICCU to build a relationship with are teens who are earning money for the first time. The credit union, which has a long relationship with the school systems in the area, is leveraging AI as another way to be a go-to resource for teens seeking personal finance education.

ICCU has branded its virtual assistant as “Ava Answers”, a cartoon character that embodies the demographic the credit union is looking to help educate. Ava Answers is designed to help build trust within the community and be a knowledgeable resource for teens to expand their financial literacy.

The Financial Wellness package of the Glia Virtual Assistant is powering Ava Answers, leveraging the GVA’s best-in-class conversational AI technology. Members can ask for definitions of common terms, comparisons of different accounts and investment options, and tips around best practices for budgeting, saving for a big purchase, and much more.

“All you have to do is look around you in a competitive landscape and if you don’t have this technology, you’re going to be left behind,” Ferguson said. “AI is not going to get rid of people. What’s going to happen is that institutions that don’t use AI will be replaced by institutions that do use AI. But what we love most about AI is the ability to be there for our members 24/7 with that single source of truth.”

New and Creative Ways to Serve the Community

ICCU’s approach to leveraging AI—from branding the bot to relate to its target demographic to rolling out a Spanish version of the virtual assistant to better support its Latino membership—has demonstrated the credit union’s ability to strategically leverage technology to keep pace to emerging trends and member expectations. 

The creativity of branding Ava will enable ICCU to have her age and grow as its membership goals evolve over time, all while remaining a trusted resource for members 24/7.

The final piece of unified interaction management for ICCU is converting to Glia Call Center, which will provide the credit union’s Member Advocates with a single platform for servicing members.

No matter where the members are when they need support or how they choose to connect, ICCU’s team, including Ava, will be there to provide exceptional support.

“When we were looking at a vendor to partner with, we wanted a platform that enabled us to approach member service from a unified perspective,” Ferguson said. “The Glia platform allows us to consolidate digital, AI, and phone, streamlining our member service operations and helping us to best serve our community.”

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