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The Contact Center — Critical to a Bank’s Omni-Channel Strategy

Appian Contributor
June 21, 2018

The Evolution of Customer Service and What it Means for the Contact Center

With the increasing complexity of today's connected world, the contact center is evolving into the interaction hub of financial services institutions. The contact center is not only responsible for support, interaction, education and data gathering, but it is expected to be able to handle a constantly evolving array of more complex issues. With this growing responsibility, it is more important than ever to ensure that the contact center is part of a bank's digital fabric and that there are strong linkages between the contact center and the other channels your customers are using e.g., branch, ATM, SMS, chat, email, IVR, social, etc.

In a recent blog, Chris Skinner writes, "7% of customers in the past two years expressed their displeasure by moving from one bank to another. A further 17% thought about switching, but decided against it, citing fear of costs when things go wrong, the hassle involved and fear of a negative effect on credit rating." Financial institutions cannot afford this level of attrition, especially since some estimates put acquisition costs for retail banking customers at about $200 with revenue generation per customer per annum at only $150. To reduce churn, financial institutions must focus on delighting customers through exceptional service. The contact center can serve as the hub of these exceptional experiences only when approached proactively instead of reactively.

From Multi-Channel to Omni-Channel

Traditionally, multi-channel offerings have developed in a reactive way, because customers have demanded that services be provided through more than one channel. This has often resulted in services being built as independent silos, creating inconsistent experiences. Today's banking customers expect more. They don't care about the integration behind the scenes and the different departments and various analytical tools that vary by channel. It is up to the bank to create a unified experience regardless of its internal operations. It is not enough to create a solid strategy for each channel. It is essential to embrace a holistic view of all of them. A holistic approach creates a stronger brand in customers' minds which is key to preventing customer churn.

Research from Google has shown that 98 percent of Americans switch between devices in the same day.

Since approximately 46 percent of the population are managing their finances online, this means that banking customers are switching between devices before completing a single financial activity. Financial institutions need to ensure that these interrupted transactions are completed as seamlessly as possible on the next device. Focusing on an omni-channel strategy will not only enhance the customer experience. It will simultaneously bring important benefits to those financial institutions that opt for this strategy. It will enable them to use resources more efficiently, build comprehensive customer data and form enhanced interactions that continue over different channels. A strategic, intelligent omni-channel strategy will allow financial institutions to build deep relationships with customers in an increasingly competitive landscape. Those that fail to implement a successful omni-channel strategy risk facing significant customer loss to nimble new entrants to the market.

To have a true omni-channel environment, it is critical to track and share data across channels so agents have a real-time view into customer case history. This translates into an effortless and seamless experience for customers as well. To achieve this, financial institutions should leverage a technology platform that unifies communication channels and provides a 360-degree view of the customer in a single agent interface.

Automated Technologies and the Future of the Contact Center

Artificial intelligence (AI) software using natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis can help customer service reps deal with a wide range of customer issues. These new technologies can listen to calls and evaluate the impact on the customer, such as how the issue was resolved, whether the customer's loyalty will increase in the future because of the call, and recommendations of what could have been done to de-escalate calls when customers are unhappy. AI-driven sentiment analysis is enabling contact centers to rely more on chatbots that allow for quick responses to simple questions and 24/7 support. Many financial institutions are using AI to deliver automated, personalized and monitored experiences that elevate customer service while also making work easier for customer service employees. The key to delighting customers with exceptional experience is to have AI and customer service reps work together. The bots are there to answer simple and frequently-asked questions, while the customer service reps are the real problem solvers.