Hudson Valley Credit Union Cuts Speed of Answer 30% and Abandonment Rate 51% with Rapid Voice Verification


Hudson Valley Credit Union has been serving the Poughkeepsie community and surrounding areas for the past 60 years. The credit union is on a mission to strengthen quality of life for those they serve and is committed to affordability and convenience in the member experience. With changes in member expectations around user experience in recent years, HVCU is on a journey of technological advancement to continue providing outstanding service.


Although the pandemic was a game changer for call volume in all credit union call centers, a larger trend has actually made more of an impact over time. Digital transformation changed the nature of incoming calls. Basic balance transfers and inquiries are now handled online without the need for one-on-one assistance. This means agents spend more of their time troubleshooting issues for members, leading to a rise in average handle time.

HVCU was faced with the need to reduce AHT without harming member experience or account security. Instead of picking one or two types of calls that could potentially be handled faster, the organization wanted to make improvements across the board. 

According to Steve Goodwine, Vice President, Director of Contact Center, member verification stood out as an obvious area to target. “One thing that we do on every phone call, regardless of the reason for the call, is identify the person calling. That’s an area we targeted so we could make large improvements across the entire spectrum of phone calls.”

Member frustration was another key reason to address verification. Today, a higher percentage of people who call in are doing so because of some level of friction they have experienced in trying to accomplish something through another channel. Members often express impatience with agents during traditional security Q&A.

“Your phone can ID you by your fingerprint or face now. As that technology becomes commonplace, the expectation grows that every organization should be offering that type of seamless interaction.” 


Hudson Valley CU had been exploring voice authentication solutions for several years, but hadn’t found a good fit. “There were a number of barriers early on. Cost was a huge obstacle. But member experience was another hurdle. There are other solutions out there that either had to route the call through some other system before going back to the agent as verified, or the member had to repeat a series of very specific phrases.” Completing verification in this way wasn’t a natural process, and simply replaced Q&A with other friction points.

Illuma Shield became the obvious choice for Hudson Valley for a number of reasons:

  • Credit union focused
  • Truly frictionless for members
  • No added effort for agents to use
  • No complex training required
  • Integration handled by Illuma
  • Very low cost compared to other solutions


The benefits of frictionless voice authentication were immediate and obvious. Goodwine shared the key metric impacting average handle time: “Our caller verification used to take about 60 seconds. We’re at 17.1 seconds on Illuma Shield™ today and that number keeps shrinking as machine learning keeps improving the system.” 

Just 10 months after deployment, the Illuma Shield system is already seeing over 2x higher adoption compared to what the credit union’s previous pin-based authentication service was able to achieve after 5 years of use. Goodwine credits ease of enrollment for this rapid progress. “Sometimes, members think they don’t have time to enroll. But it’s such an easy objection to overcome when they realize all they have to do is say, ‘yes.’ There are no extra steps to take and no separate number to call.”

The response from the team has been overwhelmingly positive. “Our contact center agents love it. They feel better protected from fraudsters with lower effort. They’re not put in a position to create those frustrating experiences of identifying a caller with PII type questions.” Deploying Illuma Shield™ was a critical component of HVCU’s digital transformation. Through this transformation, the credit union is enjoying its highest Net Promoter Score in 3 years, demonstrating a positive impact on member satisfaction.

Key Benefits

  • 71% Decrease in Time to Authenticate
  • 30% Decrease in Average Speed of Answer
  • 51% Decrease in Abandon Rate
  • 1400+ FTE Hours Saved in First 6 Months
  • 2x+ Higher Adoption in 10 Months than Previous Method Had in 5 Years
  • Net Promoter Score at 3 Year High


“This voice authentication software is an important addition to our toolbox in combating account fraud by ensuring that our contact center representatives are speaking with the member who owns the account and not a bad actor impersonating that member”.

– Tony Rohrmeier,  EVP and COO

“The Illuma team is responsive and attentive. And the Illuma Shield™ product is just so extremely simple, even knowing it in advance, it’s impressive to see it in day-to-day action.”

– Steve Goodwine, Vice President, Director of Contact Center