Today’s economic headwinds are creating difficult decisions for CX leaders. While this uncertainty touches nearly every industry, financial services firms will likely deal with some of the highest customer support surges as we head into 2023.
With inflation continuing and interest rates rising, more consumers will turn to banks and other financial institutions for help, requesting assistance with delaying payments, modifying loan agreements, applying for new loans, among other questions. These requests will increase customer service volume beyond what financial institutions planned and budgeted for. Financial service leaders will need to get creative with their CX initiatives to move quickly, without busting their budgets or losing customer and employee loyalty.
There are many internal and external issues that need to be addressed: high call volumes, long wait times, talent retention, and overall costs. These are all critical issues and symptoms of the public’s dissatisfaction with the quality banking experiences. According to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, satisfaction scores are lowest when it comes to retail banks helping customers save time or money, areas that can be influenced by efficient, effective contact center interactions.
So, how do firms and institutions balance costs with innovative, valuable customer experiences? Let’s consider a few opportunities for financial services companies to explore:
1. Let technology ease CX and EX challenges
Staffing is the biggest issue affecting many financial firms’ ability to provide quality customer experiences. Companies unable to fully staff their contact centers are realizing capacity challenges and longer wait times, resulting in a lower level of customer care. Customers are noticing and so are employees, with many contact center associates leaving and their jobs remaining unfilled.
Though difficulty in finding and retaining contact center workforce is not an issue unique to financial services firms, it does create a greater challenge as a highly regulated industry. Many employees need specialized training, background clearance, and certifications in order to work in contact centers and provide customer service for finance and insurance companies. Attrition of talent and inability to quickly replace workers directly impacts customer experience as well as employee experience and morale.
Technology provides opportunities to help solve many employee issues, from fast training to productivity improvements to excellent customer service. AI and ML offer training solutions from hiring to onboarding as well as workforce optimization, while implementing intelligent automation solutions like chatbots, RDA and RPA can alleviate long call handle times and deflect volume to more efficient digital channels. Deployed effectively, AI technology could save banks an estimated $447 billion. As an example, asynchronous messaging allows a single associate to handle multiple customers simultaneously, thereby improving associate efficiency and easing contact center capacity bottlenecks.
2. Outsourcing is not a four-letter word
When managing contact center operations becomes more than a firm can or may want to handle, it’s time to partner with an experienced outsourcing company. Outsourcing CX is a widely accepted, proven solution for companies to increase capacity and contact handling, realize lower costs, and improve customer and employee experiences.
Outsourcing contact center operations offers more services and options well beyond the old call center model. From customer service to technical support, back-office to sales support, firms select from a list of services that fit specific short-term or long-term needs. Companies may decide to let their CX partner handle all their contact center operations so they have one less management concern on their plate. Or they can outsource one part of the business and build on it over time.
The ability to provide a great digital banking experience is critical as 69% of Spanish, 77% of Canadian, and 71% of North American consumers will use their online banking account at least once a month. It’s clear sign that firms need to ensure they up their game by partnering with outsourcer that has deep knowledge and experience with digital customer journey orchestration and adoption. Providing customers with communication channels like chat within apps, automated messaging to associate-assisted messaging or voice is where outsourcing can really pay off. And, technology has proven to be a game-changer for improving employee experience too.
3. Great employee experiences will be a differentiator in 2023
Too often, companies neglect to consider the employee side of their CX services. Employee experience is a good place for companies to start and make sure they’re delivering great customer experience. In a recent McKinsey report, only half of contact center associates reported job satisfaction, also noting that job satisfaction and retention are closely intertwined. Ensuring employee success begins with setting up an experience associates want and providing them training the need so your contact center team can grow and mature.
For firms and institutions with in-house operations, the ‘flex-EX’ work model is an opportunity to handle workforce issues that can affect the quality of CX services. Flex-EX offers a mix of part-time, full-time, and floater employees working dynamic schedules to bring a diverse, multi-generational talent with experience – and certifications – required for financial services. In essence, it creates a deep bench of diverse talent that can be ramped up during peak times and used to cover lags in staffing.
Determine the KPIs that truly matter to your business and consider how the entire CX ecosystem, including the employee experience, is driving to that target. Perhaps average handle time (AHT) takes priority on your score card today, but the overall business goal is to achieve first call resolution (FCR) or JD Power-worthy CSAT scores. In this case, AHT doesn’t deserve the airtime it’s currently receiving. The same philosophy applies to tools, training, and coaching. Do associates and leadership have adequate technology, training, and effective business processes to help support your business goals and critical KPIs? Are the employees rushing through customer interactions to meet AHT caps at the cost of a poor customer experience and unsolved inquiries? Consider a holistic review, look at every aspect of the employee experience and consider the impact on your overall customer experience.
Make experience a priority in 2023
With today’s employment issues and economic uncertainty, it is a tall order for a financial services company to handle an entire contact center operation on their own. As we head into 2023, collaborating with an experienced partner is a great place for financial services firms to start in order to get a clear understanding of the problems and realize creative solutions that enable better customer and employee experiences.