The contact center isn’t just the heart or voice of an institution. It’s the spine that gives the entire institution support and structure.
While online banking, mobile banking and other electronic delivery channels have developed to help alleviate the burden on employees, the call center has only seen its roles and responsibilities increase as it supports old processes and manages the transition to new technologies, advised speakers at the 2011 CUANM Call Center Conference.
The more diverse resources, support and strategy invested in the call center, the faster the organization can safely and effectively move forward.
Ditch (or Switch) the IVR and Reconsider Handle Times
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems vary in their effectiveness, but they’re consistent in their impact on the member experience. Implementation of IVRs is one of the top detractors from your Net Promoter Score, which is a benchmark for the member experience, says Michelle Bloedorn of the Member Loyalty Group CUSO.
If you must use IVR, make sure callers are not more than two or three button-pushes away from a live representative, and put resources in place so calls go directly to reps if they are available.
Once callers are with a rep, resist the urge to use standard call center metrics like maximum handle time as a sole indicator of call performance. BECU ($9.5B, Seattle, WA) averages a six-minute handle time for calls to ensure the focus is on problem resolution, says Shane Morris, member loyalty manager at the credit union. Other institutions have no maximum handle time and some even have a minimum handle time to ensure opportunities from cross-sell and call resolution are fully broached at each contact.
You are a unique institution, so track everything, but develop key performance indicators (KPI) based on the priorities that matter most to the organization, says Darryl Flores, a contact center consultant for financial services company SWBC.
Call centers aren’t just touch points for resolution, they’re effectively your biggest branch, says Patrick Hughes, vice president of member relations at PSCU. And outbound call operations are particularly scalable, even small credit unions can start out with one to two dedicated reps and secure a relatively high ROI.
And don’t think you’ll be lacking in leads. Contact lists can be generated at no to low costs by segmenting core information to find competitor targeting data and near real time leads can be acquired from third party financial sites that provide visitor information (but make sure not to contact consumers while they’re still on the site). Credit unions are even moving into the space of behavioral engagement pioneered by companies like Google, tracking behavior in online banking to determine member needs and then following up with direct contact.
Aim for a max of three to five contact attempts per members until the lead is exhausted and focus call efforts between 3PM to 7PM Monday-Thursdays and on Saturdays, Hughes says. Have scheduling processes in place to make sure scheduled call backs actually happen, and have the infrastructure in place to make sure phone numbers left by reps lead to a real person, not a voicemail.
Lastly, when you finally get members on the line, use a short version of the application process to show you respect member’s time. Capture their basic information to get the app rolling, then give them options for follow up on minor details as needed.
Do A “Road Show”
Call centers are noisy, hectic and rarely pretty. It’s a harsh reality that they often get less on-deck visits and attention from executives than they should.
“One credit union I visited had a 40% abandon rate,” Flores says. “But the loan department was meeting goals and the CFO was happy. They weren’t seeing the dollar impact that adding more agents could bring.”
To help connect the dots between the call center, the balance sheet, and the rest of the institution, create in-house presentations that educate about the role of the call center and how it supports and is supported by other departments, he says. And when you’re presenting to other departments, speak their language.
CFOs might think of the negative cost connotations of adding more reps or investing in additional technology, Flores says. But if the center’s so overloaded that supervisors are taking calls to help out, you’ve enlisted the help of some very expensive reps, and you’ve detracting from the supervisor’s ability to do their job.
Back all claims up with supporting metrics, and you can give executives the tools they needs to make more informed decision about the operation while securing the results the contact center needs.