In my previous post, I noted that the banking contact center needs to reinvent itself and the role in plays in the customer experience. Banks are under growing pressure to match the high bar that Amazon and other customer experience leaders set for “know me, serve me, delight me” experiences.

Banks now compete on customer experience as much as, if not more than, on product selection and price, and the contact center has a role to play in delivering experiences that differentiate the leaders from the followers in this market. Today, 29 percent of consumers use the banking contact center and 18 percent rely on it for their first contact.

While first contact usage is likely to decline due to the switch to digital, the importance of contact center interactions will increase as the only source of human interaction with a growing customer base. Yet there is a disconnect between what banks have traditionally focused on in contact centers and what customers value.

Banks want efficiency. By contrast, research from Forrester and Accenture shows that customers want trustworthiness (56 percent), high-quality customer service (55 percent), and a skilled workforce aware of their needs (55 percent)—the top three customer satisfaction drivers in retail banking.

Banking contact centers need a new talent strategy to bridge this gap. Workers need different skills: problem solving, analytical thinking, sales and communications. Above all, they need to show empathy from the time customers connect with the interactive voice response (IVR) system through issue resolution and discussion of new opportunities.

This is the ability to see the world through customers’ eyes to understand the personal context of people’s financial needs. It is about solving problems by serving customers as individuals, not as numbers in an inbound call, video or mobile chat queue.

For example, Spain’s banking group BBVA Contigo program focuses on providing “the human touch” to customers who typically bank using digital channels. Customers can sign up for their own personal advisor who provides services such as investment advice, credit card sign-up and loan applications.

It is personalized virtual service from a real person without ever stepping inside the branch. Programs like this emphasize the importance of soft skills even in a hard numbers business. Getting this right demands a robust technology platform – the subject of my next post in this series.

Read more: From contact center to relationship center

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