The global financial services industry has changed significantly in the past decade. From 2010 to 2019, the total number of full-service US bank branches fell by 12%. With even fewer people visiting offices in 2020 due to the pandemic, branch closures are likely to continue or even accelerate.
The landscape is similar here in Australia. Earlier this month, Suncorp announced it would close 19 branches across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales as it acts to adapt to a reduction in customer demand during COVID-19.
This shift isn’t surprising, as completing a transaction at a branch is known to be more expensive, and cost-cutting is a top priority for many financial institutions. But these closures have pushed more customers towards online banking out of necessity. As a result, many financial contact centre agents now find themselves playing the role of customer tech support.
In addition to handling their typical call load, they’re also required to assist new mobile app users in solving various issues. An individual agent’s time is becoming more valuable, and therefore more expensive to the contact centre.
With that said, how can you optimise your contact centre’s workforce? There are five key elements to consider when creating a solution that will empower agents and instil accountability.
1. Communicate Effectively
Ensuring everyone is on the same page is critical. There remains so much uncertainty across different industries and surrounding Covid-19 in general that not regularly updating staff is no longer an option for banks. One of the main reasons cited by staff for missed messages is that they simply hadn’t seen it in their emails, instant messenger, intranet etc.
With the added barrier of employees in various physical locations, using just one program mitigates the risk of lost messages. This is why streamlining software or overall means of communication can be useful in ensuring updates don’t go unnoticed. The easiest way to do this is to agree with your team on core communication methods to be used and then ensure everyone sticks to these for core business discussions.
2. Maintain Quality Customer Service
Customer service is where banks compete, and as face-to-face branch interactions plummet, the responsibility of maintaining excellent customer experience falls on the contact centre. Adding to the pressure, customers have come to expect streamlined service, personalised attention, and more self-service options. According to Pindrop Labs, an alarming 90% of consumers report that three or fewer “bad experiences” with a contact centre will cause them to search for or switch to a new provider.
Banks have an opportunity to empower customers to access the information they need quickly and easily with less frustration. For example, automating authentication can assist banks in delivering an unmatched customer experience with more self-service options, shorter call times, personalised service, and a painless authentication process.
3. Implement Process Automation
Banking contact centre workforce optimisation is often supported by technology and software tools that automate many of the components of the optimisation process. Implementing process automation technology can also streamline complex business processes, and is an actionable step that will directly combat the influx of new calls while maintaining excellent customer service.
Automation can facilitate the quick and accurate authentication of callers, which can significantly reduce AHT and enable better customer service. Process automation can also replace outdated and inefficient authentication options such as knowledge-based authentication questions (KBAs), which drive up AHT and reduce agent efficiency. Asking callers a series of personal questions can be frustrating to both customers and agents, and provides minimal security. With bots resolving simple issues, agents are free to master critical problems.
4. Take Control Of AHT
Due to limited branch access, branch closures, and other pandemic-related concerns, the number of calls to banking contact centres has risen by 15 to 25%. This means the ‘new normal’ for banking contact centres is a significant increase in call volume and, subsequently, extended call hold times. Reducing your average handle time (AHT) can improve efficiency and significantly reduce costs.
While some solutions may advertise a 3-second handle-time reduction, an integrated solution will offer far more meaningful savings. Multi-factor authentication solutions driven by the latest proven technologies can reduce AHT up to 30 to 60 seconds per call. This not only helps banking contact centres to tackle their increased call volumes but also contributes to significant cost savings, increased customer satisfaction and higher overall productivity.
5. Invest In Your Agents
Workforce optimisation doesn’t begin and end with technology. There will always be a place for live service representatives and value in human interaction. A critical component of the optimisation solution involves placing agents with the right training in the right roles to enable the best customer experience.
If happy agents result in satisfied customers, how can call centres elevate agent engagement, so they’re offering a better service experience? It comes down to support. Examples include providing ongoing training opportunities and sharing performance insights and agent satisfaction metrics with staff. Ensure that agents feel both satisfied with their jobs and committed to their customers.
Workforce optimisation, which includes investment in both technology and talent, ensures that banking contact centre agents perform at peak efficiency. Ultimately, it’s about keeping customers happy. Financial firms must evolve to deliver authentic engagement over digital channels. New solutions such as chatbots, AI and virtual contact centre staffing can drive enhanced interaction and deliver sustainable ROI.
Learn more about how GSN can help you optimise your banking contact centre workforce to provide a superior customer service experience that’s custom-built for the new world of banking.