HOW BANKS CAN ENSURE PERFECT CHRISTMAS CUSTOMER SERVICE WHEN YOUR SUPPORT TEAM IS HOME ALONE

By Arnaud Choveau, brand and marketing at CCA International

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and financial institutions and their customers alike are preparing to put on their holiday hats. For most of us, the Christmas break will be a time of relaxation, and meeting with friends and family. Banks will be giving their workers a well-earned break; meaning that customer service teams will be operating at reduced numbers. Yet this doesn’t mean there will be no need for them. Consumers who have enough to worry about with cooking, cleaning, travelling and paying for last-minute gifts need anything that goes wrong to be noted and dealt with as soon as possible. Customer service teams that aren’t prepared for this could quickly find themselves overwhelmed, and the business’ reputation taking a major holiday hit. So how can organisations ensure that these calls, when they come, are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible? 

Know your risk

The first task for any financial services organisation is to know what events could cause customers to call; what are the likelihood of those events; how many customers could be affected; and what the consequences could be, so that it knows the exact risks at stake. For instance, complaints could arise from shoppers being unable to pay for last-minute gifts; from a card being blocked from use abroad at the start of a Christmas holiday; or from unusual activity suddenly appearing on an account. For most. An event could happen at any time; meaning not being ever-ready could result in a significant number of disgruntled customers, not to mention being unprepared for any follow-on problems. 

Centralise

The modern consumer doesn’t just rely on the phone. Complaints and issues could arise over almost any channel; from Facebook to Twitter to the call centre itself. In order to deal with this, the best approach to take is a single hub; where all customer communications and content are dealt with through a single, integrated team. While specific social or telephone contact centres might be in separate locations, they are all working together as part of the same, omnichannel hub; meaning the organisation has a single overview over any potential customer issues and workers can support one another as needed to deal with issues.

For instance, if the hub is automatically monitoring social media as part of its day-to-day activity, it will be able to identify, respond to and ideally solve specific customer issues as and when they are mentioned, preventing them from escalating. At the same time, other channels can also begin preparing; for instance, by placing a Q&A on the website, and giving telephone teams the information they need to field any calls from customers with the same issue. Similarly, workers on the phones can feed back to the hub, so that solutions to common issues can be shared on social media – meaning that customers know their bank has any issues in hand. By acting in concert, the hub allows a reduced team to do the work of many more across all channels. 

Share the Christmas spirit

As mentioned, a central hub for customer communications doesn’t mean that all teams will be in the same location, or even in the same country. Financial institutions with multiple locations should use this to their advantage. For instance, while some nations completely shut down from Christmas Eve onwards, others have their most important feast days at other times; such as January 6th in Spain. If all of these regions can access the same hub, they won’t just have access to the same information and content, and be able to provide a consistent message to customers worldwide. They will also be able to support one another; for instance, native-level English speakers in one location can support UK teams during periods when they will be short-staffed, and vice versa. By making sure teams have the right information to help with customer issues in any region, no matter where they might be located, banks can make their customer service team a lot bigger. 

Automate

Many customer queries, while they might be urgent, are extremely simple; the customer will be happier with a fast, correct answer than anything else. For instance, travellers will be most interested in how to unlock their card, how long the process will take, and how to pay for items in the meantime. In these circumstances, online chatbots and website FAQs can provide answers to many customers’ concerns without the need to spend time in a helpline queue. Not only does this resolve the customer’s pain faster, it also frees up workers to concentrate on customers who are either unable to access online resources, or who have more complex queries that demand human intervention. If chatbots can also identify a customer’s previous history, and route them through the support process if their issues can’t be dealt with immediately, it will provide an even more pleasant customer experience, and help ensure that a one-off Christmas incident doesn’t result in a switch in bank. 

Welcome to the party

For the majority of banks and their customers, Christmas will pass without incident: presents will be opened, dinner will be eaten, games will be played, and customer service workers will head home after an uneventful day. However, it can only take one bad day to damage a business’s reputation. Banks need to be prepared for the chance that not everything will go smoothly for their customers, or them, at Christmas.

By centralising customer experience in a single, omnichannel hub; sharing the workload across global teams; and automating processes where possible, banks can ensure they’re ready to deal with any customer service issues, without needing a fully-staffed service desk at Christmas.

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