Sep 05 2017

The 4 Key Things Financial Services Contact Centers Must Get Right

Empowering customer service agents with advanced collaboration technology tools supports the banks, credit unions and capital markets of the future.

The idea of a bank, credit union or even securities trading firm is being redefined from what it was in the past. About two decades ago, a bank existed almost exclusively as a brick-and-mortar building with a vault full of physical cash. But today, your bank rides with you in your pocket on your smartphone.

The mobile banking revolution is just one of the most constant and visible effects of this digital transformation that is sweeping the financial services industry, but it’s by no means the only one.

Contact centers aren’t new to the financial services world. Banks and credit unions have relied on them for back-office operations and customer service for some time. But in a world where retail banking is no longer the most consistent and common way to engage customers, contact centers become even more important to a financial services firm’s success.

Here’s a look at four ways that contact centers, and the technology solutions that are emerging to support their growth, impact the financial services market.

1. Provide Better Customer Satisfaction via Tech

Today’s financial services customers and members are confident and tech savvy. They know exactly what they want, demanding faster, easier and more intuitive ways to connect and engage with their financial institutions. They expect their banks, credit unions and insurance companies to know their communication preferences and have the right tools in place to meet those preferences for a more satisfying service experience. They demand an easy and seamless experience, the first time and every time.

Their loyalty is fleeting. If they don’t get what they want, when and where they want it, they will quickly leave to find a new resource that will deliver on that promise.

Fintech companies are filling that need. Tapping the most advanced technology in innovative ways, they are simplifying and doing business the way that customers desire, and they are heating up competition in the marketplace.

Great customer experience, whether from a traditional or nontraditional firm, can translate into customer and member retention and loyalty. This is particularly important for credit unions, where cultivating the member relationship throughout the lifetime of members is of the utmost importance. Many credit unions recognize the need to raise their standards of service at contact centers in response to growing competition and heightened member expectations, yet they’re often small and lack the resources to implement best-in-class technologies and the business processes to go with them.

Along with customer and member demands, financial institutions are also being challenged by industry shifts that are impacting the service delivery model. For banks and credit unions, fewer branch visits are resulting in branch closures, making the contact center even more important for engaging customers one on one to build trusted relationships and efficient service.

Additionally, each generation uniquely prefers a different channel to accomplish their service needs. For example, surprisingly 60 percent of millennials called a bank contact center in the past month while only 42 percent of those 55 and older did so. Video is also an appealing service channel for many millennials.

According to a recent report from Capgemini and Efma, Gen Y insurance customers like to engage more regularly, preferring to interact with insurers at least twice more frequently than in other segments, especially via new channels such as social media. Gen Y taps agent and phone channels for advisory services and internet, PC and mobile channels for transactional services. It’s also very important to note that they’ve had lower levels of positive experience with all touchpoints. Non-Gen Y customers prefer to use agents and the internet instead of the phone, mobile or social media channels.

2. Deliver on Customers' Omnichannel Expectations

Knowing what your customers and members want and when they want it is critical in an omnichannel business model, but even more critical is delivering on those expectations. How effective is your contact center in delivering a consistent, integrated experience across all channels, where and when customers and members want it?

For banks, credit unions and insurance companies, legacy IT systems are often the cause of the many challenges contact center agents face. These decades-old systems make it difficult to deploy the advanced technology that will satisfy the omnichannel demands of customers, and members’ information is siloed and difficult to share across channels, resulting in unsatisfying interactions and transactions.

This places agents at a huge disadvantage. In what is often an already emotionally charged situation for the customer, call agents are forced to keep their customers calm when other myriad challenges occur while servicing them. Agents also understand that a heated interaction can get even more heated when things go wrong.

Agents and the customers may have to deal with slow response times and incessant waiting, or worse yet dropped calls requiring customers to start all over again. Information may not follow customers through the process, so they may have to repeat their personal details and needs multiple times. A noisy contact center subjects both customers and agents to a challenging conversation that is difficult to navigate. Finally, downtime of any channel of the contact center negatively impacts brand loyalty and can result in lost revenue. Yet failures are frequent.

3. Boost Sales Opportunities with More Customer Data 

When they are equipped with the right tools, agents in the contact center are well positioned to enable the sales process. At a minimum, agents must have access to a vast array of personalized customer and member information, including their channel preferences, recent research and interactions with the institution, and the current services and products they use.

By tapping this wealth of information, agents can engage customers through the channel of their choice and share personalized content to inform and spark a sale. They can suggest innovative tools they know the customer will find appealing, share information about products and services that may complement those customers are already using or provide benefits of which customers were previously unaware. With the right equipment, agents are consistently placed in the ideal situation for a one-on-one sales opportunity delivered in the moment to the advantage of the customer and the financial institution.

4. Drive Productivity and Profitability with the Right Tools 

Improving contact center agent productivity and profitability are two of the top challenges for every financial services organization. Agents need easy access to customer data and resources from across the enterprise. Workflow must be streamlined and easy and efficient to navigate. They need the right tools at the right time to provide customers with the right information. Contact center managers must also have the tools they need to monitor and measure agents for not only their productivity and effectiveness but also their customer satisfaction rating.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for contact centers is the high level of attrition. Employees want to deliver their best work, but when they are provided with inadequate tools to deliver customers with the highest level of service, they get discouraged and leave the company.

Successful contact centers offer coaching to their team members. Agents work better if they have a thorough understanding of their job, the services and information they should be providing to their customers, and a clear understanding of their goals. These are the critical factors that help retain employees, better serve your customers and members, and enable business growth.

To learn more about contact center technologies that can support and enhance the success and productivity of your financial services business, download CDW’s e-book.

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