Blog · 23 Mar 2020

How to make your financial services contact centre work for your customers

New research reveals that financial consumers are ready to embrace proactive contact, self-service and AI-powered contact centre technology.

Senior specialist Contact for banking and financial services

The fact that person-to-person phone calls remain the most used customer contact channel is an indictment on the effectiveness of a business’ communication strategy.

Seeing customers calling to speak to an agent as a failure of the organisation — a sign that a process has fallen over, automation hasn’t worked properly, or customers haven’t been given the information and support they need. The customer has been ‘driven’ to call by a complex issue the organisation has failed to predict and mitigate or prevent.

So what needs to change in your contact channel mix to stop customers from reaching the frustration point of picking up the phone to speak to an agent?

Push the possibilities of self-service to the max

Fundamentally, self-service taps into a familiar idea to consumers — that if you want to do something relatively simple, then you should be able to do it yourself in a simple way. By thoroughly understanding your customer journey and making accessing information easy, you can pick off the low hanging fruit of straightforward transactions and prevent them from escalating into a call to an agent. Then, by bringing AI into your communication equation, you can extend the complexity of the queries that self-service can handle.

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The fact that person-to-person phone calls remain the most used customer contact channel is an indictment on the effectiveness of a business’ communication strategy.

Seeing customers calling to speak to an agent as a failure of the organisation — a sign that a process has fallen over, automation hasn’t worked properly, or customers haven’t been given the information and support they need. The customer has been ‘driven’ to call by a complex issue the organisation has failed to predict and mitigate or prevent.

So what needs to change in your contact channel mix to stop customers from reaching the frustration point of picking up the phone to speak to an agent?

Push the possibilities of self-service to the max

Fundamentally, self-service taps into a familiar idea to consumers — that if you want to do something relatively simple, then you should be able to do it yourself in a simple way. By thoroughly understanding your customer journey and making accessing information easy, you can pick off the low hanging fruit of straightforward transactions and prevent them from escalating into a call to an agent. Then, by bringing AI into your communication equation, you can extend the complexity of the queries that self-service can handle.

0 %
would welcome chatbots

Our latest Autonomous Customer research reveals a definite green light for self-service technology in financial services: 63 per cent of consumers favour the idea of getting simple financial information and advice from a chatbot and 61 per cent like the sound of using a chatbot for renewing a policy or contract. Plus we know that 34 per cent of consumers already self-serve by using mobile banking apps once a day or more, and a further 30 per cent use them two to three times a week. Consumer perceptions of what’s permissible via self-service are also expanding rapidly: 79 per cent of our respondents liked the idea of organisations providing automated advice using an AI-powered algorithm to tailor responses to multiple-choice questions. 

0 %
like automated advice

Pre-empt your customer’s need for information

Once you understand your customer journey, you can anticipate the events that might disrupt it and take action, heading off queries that otherwise would come to your agents. Getting this right stretches beyond the contact centre and requires comprehensive fixes to existing business issues combined with a clear outbound contact strategy. But, by running every event through the filter of ‘what does this mean for my customer’ then making contact proactively, you’ll avoid a spike of calls. Our research reveals that consumers welcome proactive contact by text, phone, push notification or email for a wide range of events: appointment reminders, advice that a product or service is changing, notification that a contract or tie-in period is coming to an end or that a better deal is available all got support from at least 84 per cent of consumers.

0 %
welcome proactive contact

Exploit AI to assist your agents

Having reduced inbound person-to-person calls as much as possible, it’s now a question of speeding up the time it takes to handle the calls that come in by making the most of AI in the call centre. With AI speech monitoring and the right software, you can listen to what the customer is saying and use the content to give the agent ‘next best action’ information in real time, so they can weave it into the natural flow of the conversation. So, for example, if the customer mentioned interest rates, the latest interest rate information would be pushed to the agent. Although agents would still need excellent communication skills, this approach reduces the need for them to be experts in every call subject area. It means there’s no need to trawl the intranet for information, removing unnecessary hold ups to the call that frustrate customers.

Once you’ve managed down the number and length of calls reaching the agent, it frees them up to help customers get more from their services. Agents can add value to the interaction by exploring further options with the caller, such as a loan or a credit card. Being able to give the time to these expanded conversations not only boosts customer satisfaction, it can increase revenue, too. Plus, being able to add value in this way through positive customer interactions will increase agents’ job satisfaction — hopefully reducing churn in the contact centre.

By focusing your customer contact strategy on empowering your customers with relevant information and effective self-service capabilities, you can work towards reducing inbound calls and boosting customer satisfaction. Get the full picture of consumer contact behaviour today by downloading our whitepaper, The Autonomous Customer 2020.

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