The Straightforward Solution for Banking’s Overloaded Contact Centers

Call volumes and turnover rates have remained elevated at bank and credit union contact centers ever since the start of the pandemic, putting a severe strain on budgets and service levels. Many institutions resist going too far with a tech-based solution, but conversational AI combined with a better use of staff can be effective.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for several issues that continue to affect bank and credit union contact centers. Customer demand has increased rapidly during this time, as an increase in urgent financial issues combined with the disruption of branch channels created a flood of daily requests pouring into contact centers.

To add to this, more people are requesting service from home at all hours of the day, with mobile banking growing in popularity and encouraging an increase in off-hours service requests.

A July 2021 report, based on a survey conducted by the International Customer Management Institute, stated that 55% of contact centers have seen increased call volume over the past 12 months. Many reported significant customer experience obstacles, including inadequately updated technology (51%) and staffing issues (44%). Respondents’ average rate of agent turnover was 58% year over year, increased workload being one major source of attrition for many.

Contact Centers Are Struggling:

Half of all contact centers experienced call volume increases in the last year, while almost as many reported technology and staffing issues, which combined led to service issues.

As other places of employment become more readily available to potential employees, this only creates a further strain on the retention of contact center staff.

Personal finances are also an important and sensitive topic for many end users, especially during periods of financial stress, so it’s particularly important to have trained and knowledgeable support staff to answer questions.

Further, consumers are expecting to receive service whenever they need it — often 24/7. Many customer service teams are finding it difficult to keep up with these demands. Combined with the increased turnover rate, mentioned above, it’s proving difficult to both provide adequate service to consumers and maintain a well-trained, experienced customer support center. Financial institutions need to take advantage of any tool at their disposal to help support their customers during this time.

How to Overcome These Challenges

One option to assist a customer support team facing a high call volume is to outsource the workload. By reinforcing your existing contact center with a pre-trained reserve of support staff, you can ensure you always have available agents ready to assist people and reduce the time they spend waiting for someone to help. All of this, while reducing operating costs at the same time.

Another way to assist contact center staff is through virtual assistant chatbots: These allow your customers to help themselves with intuitive self-service options, which will decrease the number of people calling your contact center in the first place. You can also use virtual assistants to help route customers to the appropriate departments and staff members, streamlining the process of getting someone to the right agent.

Finn AI has found that over 80% of call center inquiries are for routine requests that can easily be handled by an automated chatbot. This frees up contact center staff to handle high-value inquiries when they’re needed most.

Building Out New Tools:

Chatbots can automate four out of five inquiries for which people call contact centers.

Both of these methods can be powerful tools on their own, but when used together they can cover multiple facets of the issues currently affecting contact centers. Artificial intelligence is useful, but it cannot replace the human touch that is important for more crucial consumer conversations.

A chatbot will, however, help filter incoming service requests so that only the most crucial come through for human assistance, solving the problem of there being more inquiries than staff can quickly answer. Using both of these approaches drives up efficiency, getting you the most value for your resources spent to increase customer satisfaction.

How One Bank Solved Its Contact Center Squeeze

Allied First Bank, Oswego, Ill., was feeling the increased pressure the events of 2020 put on their contact centers. The bank already had an outsourcing partnership with AnyHour Solutions, and the ability to outsource the workload was definitely helpful. However, Allied First needed something else to help decrease call volume to more manageable levels, so they turned to Finn AI to implement a virtual assistant chatbot.

Using both services together, Allied First hoped to both lower the actual traffic to their support staff, while also providing the extra manpower their staff needs to ensure that every inquiry is handled in a timely manner.

“With the pandemic, our contact center was buried in calls and service requests,” says Kenneth Bertrand, President and CEO of Allied First Bank. “We wanted a conversational AI chatbot to take pressure off our employees, provide an additional self-service channel, and reduce operating costs.”

Bottom Line

Though contact centers are finding themselves with new challenges, there are many solutions available to banks and credit unions looking to give their support staff the assistance they need. Outsourcing can relieve the pressure of maintaining a suitably staffed call center. Adding an AI-Powered chatbot can both increase customer satisfaction and lower total call volume.

By utilizing both of these tools together, financial institutions can overcome these new challenges and continue to provide memorable customer service that keeps customers coming back.

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