How Opportunities CU Powers Financial Education With Digital Appointment Scheduling

How Opportunities CU Powers Financial Education With Digital Appointment Scheduling

Many financial institutions care about their members—it’s in their proverbial DNA. That’s why Opportunities Credit Union, an institution dedicated to bringing affordable financial services to low-income and other traditionally underserved populations, launched its Money$ense financial education program in 2006.

“The Money$ense program offers a range of group workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions to help our community members demystify their finances—from budgeting tips and credit repair, to supporting those looking to buy their first home,” says Katherine Bensen, the Money$ense program manager at Opportunities CU. Through their personalized appointment-based approach, trained financial educators identify clients’ needs, risks, and goals to create an action plan for them to follow.

But a few short years after launch, the team started having issues with getting in touch with potential clients. Staff were spending an unnecessary amount of admin time booking appointments, sending reminders, gathering information, and ensuring people showed up to meetings. “When clients reached out to us to book an appointment, it usually resulted in a long email back and forth to find each other’s availability,” Katherine explains. “We also didn’t have a system for reminders, so after all that fuss, a lot of people didn’t show up to mentoring sessions.”

Instead of working with their clients to repair their credit scores or offering guidance to seniors on their medical benefits, the Money$ense team was wasting precious time booking meetings and following up to reschedule no-shows.

Making Financial Education Easy and Accessible With the Right Technology

To make sure members and staff weren’t missing potential connections, the Opportunities team decided to look for a solution that could help automate parts of the booking process.

They eventually discovered Coconut Software, a digital appointment and scheduling software for financial institutions. It would allow members to see openings, instantly book appointments, and receive automatic notifications and reminders.

We went to a few product demos for similar software, and found that Coconut was far and above the best choice,” Katherine says. The Money$ense team not only wanted a self-serve appointment booking solution but also one that would prompt members to complete intake documentation and included options for scheduling sessions with multiple people. Coconut fit the bill.

Opportunities CU also felt that the Coconut team would be valuable, supportive partners in their implementation—not just a software vendor. “They were willing to work with us on our unique needs,” says Katherine. “They’re helpful, flexible, friendly, and supportive. The Coconut team is a joy to work with.”

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Transforming Financial Education for Members and Staff

Since implementing Coconut, the Money$ense team has improved service to members, both online and in-branch. “In the past, it was difficult to explain that I could only meet members at certain times in person or online. Now, they can see my schedule and choose whether they want to meet in person, on the phone, or on a video call,” Katherine says. This scheduling flexibility helps Katherine’s team serve more members, meeting clients using their preferred methods, and spending more time helping them achieve their financial goals.

Clients receive automatic reminders and options for rescheduling straight to their inbox. Because of this, Katherine has noticed an uptick in attendance and a decrease in wasted staff time. “Most members show up to their mentoring sessions now or they reschedule on their own. Instead of me waiting in a Zoom call for 10 minutes, wondering whether they’ll attend, I can use that time to serve the next member or prepare for another appointment,” Katherine says.

The financial educators on the Money$ense team are also better prepared for each appointment, thanks to Coconut’s customized appointment types and routing features. Previously, Katherine would have to reach out to ask the reason for each member’s appointment and wait for a response. Sometimes, hand-offs between frontline staff were incorrect or incomplete, so Katherine would come prepared to talk about budgeting when they actually came to discuss loans.

With Coconut, she can see the reason for each appointment and figure out what educational resources to route them to in advance. “It’s incredibly helpful to open my calendar and know whether someone is coming in to discuss credit counseling, post-purchase delinquency, or foreclosure intervention,” Katherine says. “I’m better able to tailor each conversation and help members with their individual financial struggles.”

This has all resulted in a significant increase in appointments booked, show-up rates, and efficiency. Members appreciate how easy it is to schedule a time to chat and change their booking. And the Opportunities team saves time and can better prepare for each appointment—all of which makes it easier to guide members through their financial struggles.

“Since using appointment software, my days are 15% smoother,” says Katherine.

Going Beyond Mentoring to Offer Financial Freedom

The Money$ense team at Opportunities Credit Union is here to serve their members at their most vulnerable. “People book appointments with us because they’re struggling. If we can help alleviate that stress and guide them in taking control of their financial future, then we’ve done something right,” says Katherine.

The Money$ense team chose Coconut to offer them customized features for their appointment and scheduling needs. But more importantly, they are now free to focus on what they do best: setting people up for financial freedom.

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