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By Advisors Plus
As credit unions increasingly embrace mobile technology as a means of attracting new members and keeping existing ones happy, the paradigm shift toward automation is having some unintended consequences on the human side of the contact center. Online and mobile technologies are literally changing the conversation that occurs between members and contact center agents, requiring new agent training tools and a shift in the focus of what constitutes superior service.
Now that broad acceptance of online and mobile banking has capitalized on the potential to deliver do-it-yourself, anytime service, the downside of the technology boom has also become apparent. Suddenly, service conversations that once sounded something like “What’s my balance?” have morphed into “Help! Explain why I am getting this error message and fix it because I need to pay my bills!”
The old paradigm in which members called a contact center for information has been replaced by the new reality of the contact center as a problem solver on the one hand and a hand holder on the other. Online and mobile technologies have done a remarkable job of siphoning off typical or more quickly resolved questions, leaving the long tail categories of reassurance and IT problem solving to the contact center.
Both simple empathy and sophisticated tech support come at the price of increased volume and talk times. According to contact center survey data compiled by Advisors Plus in 2011 and 2012, the contact centers visited had experienced a 6-10% increase in talk times year-over-year. For a 15,000 calls per month center, this equates to needing an additional .5 to .75 full-time employees just to stay even. Add even a small call volume increase to this mix and service levels can quickly turn south.
It doesn’t take much to increase call volumes. In fact, just about any change to a credit union tech channel, no matter how thoroughly explained in advance, creates a wave of inquiries from members. Part of this is because members are so inundated with daily reminders about internet fraud, identity theft, and phishing that they may call to verify any change, from new website colors to revised password or user ID procedures.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the tech spectrum, talk times are increasing because tech-savvy members are saving their phone calls for issues they can’t figure out on their own. And all the top-notch people skills in the world won’t help an agent who lacks the necessary tech training and systems support experience to answer the tough questions.
Dealing with the long-tail questions that credit union contact centers will increasingly face requires agents who combine uncommon people skills with advanced technical know-how. Recruiting this new breed of agent means that a contact center manager needs to re-write the play book to stay focused on the core service mission while supporting soft skills with specialized training and tech support. Agents who thrive within this new paradigm will have a combination of exceptional people skills and strong tech training. A credit union’s hiring wish list should include agents who:
Remember that super agents can only work miracles with the proper training and systems support. This should include giving agents:
With this combination of old school service and cutting-edge tech training and support, your contact center agents will be ready to make the paradigm shift to online and mobile effectively and confidently.
This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.
If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact our Callahan Media team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-446-7453.
August 5, 2013
8/8/2013 10:43 AM
I really enjoyed this article and found it to be clear, insightful and extremely actionable. Frank Kovach identifies the challenges that today's agents face in doing their jobs and lays out a simple game plan to help them do it better.
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