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Financial Customer Support is Swamped. Messaging Automation and Contact Center Outsourcing Can Help

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Register for the April 16 webinar, “CARES Act NOW – Financial Services: How to connect with your customers in a socially distanced world” to learn more about how banks and other financial institutions are reinventing their relationships with customers.

When economic uncertainty hits, people naturally turn to their banks and other financial institutions for help. Speed is essential and financial service companies need proven solutions to deliver fast, effective support.

At a time when most bank branches and financial offices are shuttered and contact centers are overwhelmed, contact center outsourcing with work-from-home agents and AI-enabled conversational messaging channels are viable ways for banks and other financial firms to continue to be there for their customers. Here are 5 key issues financial firms are struggling with today that can be solved with strategic automation and contact center outsourcing.

1. Sudden volume spikes

Calls are suddenly spiking as the pandemic crisis and legislative developments shift. Stimulus information, government loan questions, and unemployment assistance are just a few examples of immediate assistance consumers and business owners are looking for from financial institutions. Associates need to be available at a moment’s notice.

The solution:
A work-from-home model with a rapidly deployable workforce helps organizations accommodate daily fluctuations. Staff can be ramped up or down from a distributed home-based workforce. Also, adding a messaging channel expands the number of customer conversations an associate can concurrently handle. An associate can handle four messaging sessions concurrently—four times the rate of a regular chat channel. During peak periods, for example, callers can be directed to text their questions for faster support, which will also reduce call volumes. During a slowdown, associates can switch back to answering phone calls.

2. Consistently high call volumes

Call volumes have risen quickly and are expected to remain high as financial institutions race to manage loans and workers become concerned about paying credit card bills and making mortgage payments. But a representative can only speak with one person at a time, creating bottlenecks when contact centers are inundated with callers.

The solution:
Use intelligent virtual assistants to identify and prioritize calls as they come in and to assist associates in the background. When the call is transferred to an agent, he or she already has the background information needed to assist the customer, allowing the agent to focus on interpersonal interaction. A bot can also provide prompts and next-best recommendations to the agent in real time to further provide value to the customer, reduce average time in queue, and increase productivity.

3. Keeping financial data secure

Data security is paramount for financial institutions and their customers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a conundrum for companies: How do you maintain data security when those security measures were designed for employees operating in a bank branch or brick-and-mortar contact center?

The solution:
As Carl Sandstrom, a case specialist at Wells Fargo, tells The Charlotte Observer, “The logistics of having things recorded from home and keeping the security of their financial information are not impossible.” When transitioning employees to work from home, look for a partner with domain expertise in cybersecurity and technology.

For example, at TTEC, we use numerous security tools and best practices to ensure rigorous data security and confidentiality. Those practices include two-factor authentication, hardware security devices, and giving the client control access to our agents’ workstations. And for cases where agents must work in a contact center, we’ve undertaken WHO-recommended cleaning and prevention measures including deep cleanings multiple times per day, fogging of entire locations, temperature checks, and social distancing.

4. Licensed agent shortage

Licensed agents are in high demand as customers flood financial service firms with loan requests, insurance inquiries, and other financial needs. However, mobilizing skilled and licensed agents at contact center locations is nearly impossible when cities and states are telling people to stay home.

The solution:
Contact center outsourcing is a proven way for organizations to quickly expand their workforce. A virtual workforce that is already regulatory and security compliant offers a broader pool of readily available associates. At TTEC, we apply our recruiting, hiring, and training expertise to quickly assimilate agents to the client’s culture and begin supporting customers. Additionally, remote workforces can be scaled up or down as needed and increase operational efficiencies while reducing costs associated with a brick-and-mortar location.

5. Concerned customers

Before the pandemic, banks and other financial services companies were already using digital tools to anticipate customer issues, such as by sending automated alerts about upcoming bill payments, card balances, and suspicious activity. As anxiety levels rise, now is the time to ramp up efforts further to proactively reach out to customers.

The solution:
Proactive outbound messaging is a smart way for companies to stay ahead of customer concerns and reduce call volumes. Send a text message with a link to the latest information to deflect inquiries about common questions, such as which branches are open or what is the criteria for receiving a loan. The messages can be easily modified as the situation changes.

With call volumes reaching record highs and limited resources, the pandemic crisis is testing every firm’s customer support functions. With experienced partners and thoughtful planning, financial institutions can ensure that they are ready and able to support customers, regardless of what comes next.

Register for the April 16 webinar, “CARES Act NOW – Financial Services: How to connect with your customers in a socially distanced world” to learn more about how banks and other financial institutions are reinventing their relationships with customers.