Mercator Blog

Call and Contact Centers Are Receiving Renewed Attention in Banking
Date: May 22, 2015
Mercator
Research Team
With today’s banks and credit unions looking for ways to better serve their customers and members, many are evaluating each channel to assess opportunities for improvement. In an increasing number of financial institutions, call and contact centers are front and center in discussions about customer experience and customer satisfaction.

Many FIs elevated their call centers to “contact centers” with the philosophy that center personnel should be prepared to handle not only basic inquiries and problem resolution but customer inquiries requiring information about a broad array of topics, which in some cases may lead to opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling the FI’s products and services.

The convergence of branch and call and contact center capabilities is increasingly occurring at progressive FIs. They have strengthened their emphasis on the contact center concept with its broader and more complete view of the customer than is the case with traditional call centers. The focus has evolved over time. Increasingly, contact centers are focused on interacting and connecting with the customer and obtaining a better understanding of the individual’s financial needs, even though problem resolution remains a high priority at these centers

In addition to fielding service inquiries, today’s contact centers are being designed or reconfigured to take on tasks traditionally handled by tellers and other branch personnel. Additionally, some FIs are training their contact center personnel in basic sales techniques and how to describe and discuss available products and services (in varying detail, depending on the institution).

The reconfigured call and contact centers have multichannel visibility and can access information across channels as well as field questions and offer advice across channels. These capabilities can help FIs raise the bar on service, especially in the face of challenges posed by the combination of newly reconfigured branches and recent advances in ATM and digital banking technology, which may lead banking customers to have questions about using new tools and devices in self- or assisted-service channels.

Financial institutions are keenly aware that a successful contact center approach requires knowledgeable customer service and sales representatives with the appropriate level of expertise to speak with banking customers (or communicate with them via chat functions) whenever needed. Today’s contact center is central to the movement toward omnichannel banking, and it promises to heighten customer satisfaction and improve the overall customer experience.

As contact centers evolve from solely a problem resolution channel to a channel for a more holistic customer-centric experience that includes a wide variety of data points and interactions, FIs are realizing that this evolution will require additional training for center personnel as well as upgraded systems with broader and deeper information on customer transactions and engagement needs.