Can you imagine waiting for the bank to open?
Once upon a time, normal banking hours ended at 3 pm and the doors were closed on weekends. It’s a hard reality to imagine because today that kind of customer experience is virtually unheard of in any industry. Since the introduction of ATMs, financial services institutions have been progressing in the direction of self-service solutions that cater to simple, easy interactions. And in today’s hyper-connected digital world the contact center has become the interaction headquarters for financial services institutions.
Consider your own life as a use case — when was the last time you conducted your banking in a branch with an actual teller? It’s probably been a while. But how about the last time you engaged an agent over live chat or called a company helpline? I did just yesterday.
Contact centers in financial services organizations have evolved in complexity. It used to be that they handled primarily transactional inquiries such as address updates or account balance resolutions. Now they’re shifting to more nuanced sales and product-related issues. This means that the role of the agent is changing as rapidly as the way consumers engage with organizations. According to Forrester Research, digital systems handle nearly half of all financial transactions in the US and that trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.
Because of the shift in the nature of service requests coming from today’s financial consumers, financial services call centers have begun adopting more multichannel strategies for their customer service operations. Many have moved from traditional communication channels like voice to include omnichannel solutions that comprise webchat, SMS, and even bots. What precipitated this change? And, for the organizations that are embracing the transition, what does a successful omnichannel customer service approach look like?
Did you know LiveVox was voted a Top 20 Contact Center Blog for 2019?
The times they are a’changin’
Technology is the point where the art of innovation meets science. As our technologies grow more advanced our capacity to do our jobs better, solve problems faster, and generally be happier increases in proportion. With on-demand ease available everywhere from retail to ridesharing, consumers expect banking and financial services brands to offer the same level of flexibility as Amazon or Uber. They’ll abandon their cart at the first sign of difficulty and they have no time to wait on hold.
The 21st-century consumer is fickle and she wants what she wants when she wants it.
But that’s not to say that financial services contact centers should rush to erase the human touch from their operations. While it’s true that much of banking today is conducted online, and more and more via self-service, it’s a false equivalency to conclude that because of this call centers are a thing of the past. Rather, their position along the customer journey has changed.
Because of the prevalence of digital channels customers have developed self-reliance for solving simple issues that lend themselves to online interaction. For example, requesting a new debit card when one is lost or stolen or checking your credit score. These are straight forward inquiries that require little to no input from a representative. But choosing a personal loan or financing your children’s education? That’s a different story.
Instead of physically walking into a bank to address these needs, consumers are now apt to pick up the phone or open their laptops to find the answers. This puts call center agents in a unique position. Whereas previously call center agents were a means to an end, now they’re in a position to be the sales representative or the financial consultant. Couple this with the always-on availability of omnichannel and the modern financial organization is transformed into a 24/7 service and information resource.
According to research from the Banking Administration Insitute (BAI), challenges remain when it comes to enabling agents to use customer data effectively during these interactions, be they online or over the phone. The modern financial services contact center needs to be able to present a single view of the customer on one platform so that agents can be proactive advisors to customers. In order to keep pace with consumer sophistication, financial services institutions should look to adopt all-in-one-p[latfoprms that layer communication over a unified data repository where all customer information is housed.
Offering multichannel banking was one thing, but making it easier for agents to view and understand customer journeys and actions across channels is the forefront of the modern contact center. It opens the doors to an entirely new kind of personalized touch where every encounter is tailor-fit to a customers’ unique needs and preferences.
Interested in how you can use data to form a single view of the customer relationship? Read our blog for more.
(Not all the way) Out with the old, in with the new
The digital-only customer is still unique. However, these types of customers will only continue to grow in number. With this in mind, it’s important for financial institutions to strike a balance between the digital consumer and the more traditional one. A cornerstone and primary piece of an omnichannel strategy is ease of use. And the human element of in-person interactions still plays a pivotal role in achieving that convenience. As financial services contact centers continue to evolve and adapt to consumer behavior, a blend of voice and digital will remain vital.
Moving to an all-in-one platform allows agents to Interact with customers intelligently and efficiently. This is because relevant transaction history and account data is surfaced in real-time without switching to and from disparate systems. This means issues are resolved quickly and customers are happy. Digital channels are your organization’s day- to- day window for such interactions.
For instance, offering live chat has allowed financial institutions to extend service hours. Across the board, digital channels are growing in use, particularly on mobile. Self-service options and bots may be your first line of defense for simple transactions, but the complicated ones still require the human touch regardless of a person’s age or tech-savvy.
79% of people polled in a survey that included 24,000 participants expressed the expectation that direct contact with an agent either via phone or on the web would be available to them. In fact, 74% of that same group said they don’t enjoy interacting with organizations that don’t offer phone numbers on their site.
Integrating new channels for a new generation
Over the last five years, internet banking and mobile banking have merged into the unified strategy we now know as omnichannel. Previously, the two were treated as separate but equal entities. But with the pervasiveness of smartphone usage came a unified experience across web, mobile, and in-person touchpoints. From a consumer standpoint, there’s a growing demand for more of an Amazon-like experience where every interaction no matter the device or channel has the same look and feel. This continuity of service will become the standard of a true omnichannel strategy in financial services contact centers. But, we’re not quite there yet.
Financial services leaders need to have a short and long term strategy for getting to the true omnichannel contact center. The oldest cohort of Millenials is nearing 40. They’re starting businesses and taking on leadership positions. As digital natives, they’ll expect convenience and personalization across the board. As financial services contact center leaders seek to modernize their operations flexible software will be key. Perhaps you’re not ready for web chat now but maybe in 2 years, you will be. Having the ability to incrementally adopt channels and features as makes sense for your business will help organizations keep the pace without bloating budgets.
We’re living in an age where an online presence is a representation of who we are. This is as much a reality for businesses and financial services institutions as it is in our personal lives.
The ubiquity of digital channels has presented a twofold benefit: customers enjoy the advantage of self-service options and after-hours availability. In turn, this means financial institutions can offer more automated systems that tend to be lower cost and more efficient.
As financial services contact centers continue to embrace the shift toward omnichannel and self-service, they’ll free up branch traffic and in-person availability. Doing so will mean an increase in more strategic and customer focused activities such as advising a freshly-minted entrepreneur on the best small business loan or refinancing a mortgage.
It’s not just a Millennial expectation that service organizations offer a unified experience with the same ease of interaction across all channels. This demand has spread across all generations and will remain a constant in the evolution of customer service for years to come.
LiveVox is a leading provider of enterprise cloud contact center solutions, managing more than 14+ billion interactions a year across a multichannel environment. With over 15 years of pure cloud expertise, we empower contact center leaders to drive effective engagement strategies on the consumer’s channel of choice. Our leading-edge risk mitigation and security capabilities help clients quickly adapt to a changing business environment. With new features released quarterly, LiveVox remains at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Supported by over 450 employees and rapidly growing, we are headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Atlanta, Denver, Bangalore, and Colombia. To learn more, schedule a demo today.