Customers of the financial services industry (FSI) have become exceptionally fickle. They expect to interact with their banks and insurance providers, among others, on their own terms – through their preferred channel and at their preferred time. Furthermore, the value of brand loyalty has diminished, with research firm YouGov finding that 34 per cent of Australians would abandon their banks following a bad experience.
Financial services organisations that want to avoid becoming part of this trend need to empower their contact centre agents to act as more than just phone operators. Unfortunately, many financial services organisations are accustomed to dictating the type of experience customers can have rather than addressing what customers really want. This has stagnated the evolution of contact centre staff over the last decade. As a result, the contact centre remained, in most instances, a siloed means of engagement where agents were limited in their ability to deliver value and first time resolutions to customers.
The rapid evolution in consumer behaviour has rendered this ‘status quo’ obsolete. Consequently, much of the FSI is now scrambling for strategies to improve the ways in which it engages with customers. But as most organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to provide ‘omni-channel’, many have a restricted view of what this entails; it takes much more than providing a list of channels through which customers can make contact.
Rather, financial services organisations need to create an environment – one where workflow automation synchronises all customer information in order to build a profile to enable individualised experiences. This eliminates some key customer foibles: call waiting, transfers between multiple departments, having to repeat their issues, and needing to reauthenticate themselves at each step.
When a customer makes contact, the communication should be routed to the correct agent from the onset to avoid transfers and in turn, minimise frustration. Meanwhile, all contact centre agents must be adequately equipped to quickly address enquiries regardless of the platform through which contact is made. Any interactions after the first should not need a subsequent explanation of the issue, nor reauthentication of the customer. Additionally, agents must be empowered to make decisions and take actions that also keep in mind compliance – after all, the financial services industry is riddled with strict regulations, and breaching these can result in major repercussions.
Customers want the agent to understand their individual needs, and manage their account in any future contacts.
Technology plays a prominent role in making this possible. Artificial intelligence – such as chat bots for common enquiries and voice biometrics for authenticating a customer – are becoming more common concepts in contact centres, if not in trials. These innovations supplement traditional contact centres and often alleviate agents from simpler tasks such as the aforementioned authentication issues.
For example, a leading Australian FSI organisation is currently implementing voice biometrics solution that works in real time and identifies customers as they speak with an agent. There is no need for the customer to provide special passwords, answers or phrases – their vocal print is analysed to ensure integrity so the transaction can proceed naturally.
Other financial services providers are applying a similar approach to their mobile applications with fingerprint login and a few taps. If the customer then clicks to call the contact centre, the organisation’s contact centre agents are able to begin resolving the customer’s issue as the call is being connected without the need to re-authenticate the customer.
These strategies are leading to more practical interactions between the FSI and its customers, while removing the complexities and annoyances which typically lead customers to seek services from other providers. By breaching the traditional confines of FSI policies and empowering agents by using technology as a core part of the customer experience, companies can enable experiences that match the high quality of the products and services they provide.
By: Peter Chidiac, Managing Director A/NZ, Avaya