Investing today in modernising contact centre operations can help financial services firms drive superior business outcomes in times to come
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to transform their businesses and embrace digital technologies rapidly. Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at organisational and consumer levels alike. Increased usage of advanced digital technologies and touchpoints to keep critical services afloat has been a common denominator for all sectors, including financial services. The firms have accelerated the digitisation of their customer journeys and internal operations.
In the pre-pandemic world, a modern contact centre equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics capabilities was considered an indicator of competitive advantage. However, during the pandemic, it became a necessity. Organisations and their consumers adapted to remote and digital processes, and an efficient contact centre became crucial to keep critical services afloat and ensure operational resilience.
Banks and other financial services firms should be encouraged to rise to the occasion and ensure their customers receive the support they need in challenging times. The other side of the coin is that consumers have become accustomed to remote servicing and have realised its benefits. 75per cent of those using digital channels for the first time indicate that they will continue to use them when things return to ‘normal’. Instead of reverting to pre-pandemic standards, customers are pushing for a hybrid normal. They expect a seamless and superior digital service standard from the financial services industry. Hence the question arises: how do we modernise contact centres faster, cheaper, and at scale?
From the firm’s point of view, calls are the costliest medium of customer servicing and typically the least satisfactory channel. A primary goal of call centres has always been to reduce call volumes and deflect the call traffic to chat or self-services channels. However, adopting call-deflection strategies such as FAQ chatbots initially resulted in a poor customer experience as the responses were generally script-based and premeditated.
The goal of a digital customer servicing organisation is to employ a consistent strategy across multiple channels – call, chat, and self-service – to respond to customers, leading to improved customer experience and operational excellence. This seamless omnichannel customer experience with various self-servicing capabilities can be made possible with the adoption of advanced Al and machine learning (ML) in these business processes.
We are now at a technology tipping point where advancements in natural language processing (NLP), ML, and computational efficiency have given us conversational AI-powered chatbots that can understand the real intent of customers. These bots learn from previous responses, existing databases, and ongoing customer interactions to prepare answers in line with customer queries.
Voice technology has also seen exceptional advancements in recent times. Efficient text-to-voice and voice-to-text conversions and the natural flow of conversations with the ability to understand the context and stop words are bridging the machine-to-human communication gap. These automated communication channels can perform authentication, query registration, and in many cases, query resolution. Unresolved queries can then be routed to an agent for resolution, thus allowing multiple lines of defence before reaching the human in the loop.
Contact centres are growing in complexity as they shift from handling only transactional interactions such as informational calls to addressing more complex issues, including sales and purchase activities. Agents now play a vital role in lead identification, cross-sell and upsell of products and services.
With successful investment in self-service technologies and innovative deflection strategies, financial services firms enable customers to independently handle many of their basic issues and transaction activities. Agents can now focus more on complex and high-impact customer interactions, increasing the customers’ lifetime value or targeting customers with high churn probability. With the evolution of omnichannel platforms, agents can also identify proactive communication channels.
More than 50per cent of banking customers surveyed want their banks to recommend products or services to proactively meet their financial needs. Among those interested in these services, 55per cent say that it would enormously increase their loyalty to their bank. The organisations require a central repository of customer information and interaction histories and agents to lead these conversations to achieve the proactive recommendations.
This modernisation is not only beneficial for the organisations, but consumers also stand to gain enormously. Customers will not have to wait long before getting the chance to speak to agents as the successful deployment of conversational bots will bring down the call volume. While customers wait in line, conversational bots can complete customer verification, ask query details, perform Customer 360 analysis and retrieve interaction histories of the customer. These will help the agents to maximise the first-call resolution. Also, as call centre agents are relieved from supporting simpler, low-impact queries, they can provide the customers with empathetic, higher-quality interactions when they speak with agents.
While the modernised call centre as an idea may seem overwhelming, we can develop secure, cost-effective infrastructures to accommodate this without a massive capital expenditure due to the pay-as-you-go cloud deployment models. Major cloud providers have also brought in APIs that further bolster the adoption of intelligent chatbots and voice assistant bots. These technologies ensure that customer interaction data is stored in a structured manner, further helping banks and financial firms accurately assess customer behaviour to improve processes across the value chain.
To meet the challenges of this new normal and to support customers in using digital services, financial institutions must modernise contact centres and make them reliable and scalable. With the right technology, infrastructure, and trained agents, modernised contact centres will deliver superior customer experience, gain and retain customers and help financial firms stand out in an extremely competitive environment in the industry.
For more information, please visit quantiphi.com
by Bhaskar Kalita, Global Head – Financial Services and Insurance, Quantiphi, Inc.
Image provided by Quantiphi