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By: Ioan MacRae, Managing Director, Avaya UK

Ioan MacRae
Ioan MacRae

Consumers are demanding more and more from their service providers every day. With the evolution of communication services, the expectations of consumers, particularly customers of the financial services industry (FSI) have risen exceptionally. Now, not only do they expect a tailored service based on their individual needs, but they also expect to be able to interact with their banks and insurance providers when and through whichever channel suits their preference.

According to research firm, YouGov, only 36 per cent of British bank customers trust banks to operate in their best interests and would abandon their banks following a bad experience. This figure demonstrates how the value of brand loyalty has diminished in recent years.

Therefore, it is in the best interest of financial services organisations who want to secure loyalty from their customers, to empower their contact server agents to address what their customers actually want. For too long many financial services organisations have become accustomed to dictating what their customers want and not addressing their actual needs. This way of thinking has stunted the evolution of contact centres and as a result, has led to (in most instances) the siloing of contact centre and customer engagement, where agents are limited in their ability to deliver valuable, first time resolutions to their customers.

Consequently, many organisations in the FSI are now scrambling for strategies to improve communication methods with their customers and increase levels of engagement. Although these organisations are now becoming increasingly of the demand for ‘omni-channel’ solutions, many still have a restricted view of what this entails. It takes much more than just providing a list of channels through which customers can make contact to ensure customers are satisfied with their experience.

Instead, financial services organisations need to build a profile to enable individualised experiences and create an environment where customer information is synchronised by workflow automation, eliminating key customer service limitations such as extensive call waiting time, transfers between multiple departments, and having to repeat their issue and reauthenticate their identities at every step.

Customer interaction should be a seamless process, where the customer is routed to the correct agent from the get-go, avoiding transfers and minimising frustration. At the same time, contact centre agents must be adequately equipped to quickly address the enquiry, no matter which platform contact is made. The service should be quick and efficient while not taking any shortcuts.

Additionally, agents must be empowered to make decisions and take actions that also keep compliance in mind – after all, the FSI is riddled with strict regulations, and breaching these can result in major and costly repercussions.

Customers want agents to understand their individual needs, and manage their account in any future contacts.

Technology plays a prominent role in making this possible. Artificial intelligence – such as chat bots for common enquiries and voice biometrics for authenticating a customer – are becoming more common concepts in contact centres, if not in trials. These innovations supplement traditional contact centres and often alleviate agents from simpler tasks such as the aforementioned authentication issues.

For example, a leading UK bank is currently extending its implementation of voice biometrics capabilities with a new trial within its mobile applications that works in real time and identifies customers as they speak with an agent, providing a secure but simple solution.

Other financial services providers are applying a similar approach to their mobile applications with fingerprint login.  If the customer clicks to call the contact centre, the organisation’s contact centre agents are then able to begin resolving the customer’s issue as the call is being connected without the need to re-authenticate the customer.

The implementation of these strategies and solutions are leading to more practical and efficient interactions between FSI organisations and their customers, removing the complexities and annoyances leading to dissatisfied customers seeking services from other providers. By empowering agents to use this core technology to enhance the customer experience, consumers will be provided with the highest quality service to match highest quality of products. A promise that every FSI organisation should be giving to their customers.