April 28, 2008

Banks are tops when it comes to their call centers, at least according to a study from Genesys Labs (San Francisco), a provider of contact center solutions. Genesys polled call center managers and technical support personnel at 82 financial services companies from around the world, including banks, credit unions, investment management funds and realty lending firms, for its Contact Center Realities Study. The survey concluded that financial services is among the leading industries in terms of effective contact center use.

Dan Nordale, managing director, retail banking solutions, at Genesys Labs, says the study underscores the fact that financial services institutions, such as retail banks, place a high value on effective customer service. "Providing effective service earns financial services institutions the right to fulfill a greater share of their customers' financial needs in the future," he explains.

Nordale points out that banks do a good job of leveraging the call center as a sales center. "Particularly important is the increasing role of contact centers in the sales process," he says. "Building customer loyalty and engaging customers to meet their needs [via the call center] retains loyalty."

Adam Honore, senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group, notes that banks increasingly are deploying technologies to facilitate cross-selling in various channels. "One of the newest technologies in play for financial services firms is complex event processing [CEP] engines," he relates. "These engines are being used to foster cross-selling between channels."

Banks Are Top Tech Adopters

According to Genesys' Nordale, financial institutions tend to use technology more rigorously in their call centers than other industries. He points to three areas in particular in which financial services firms' call centers lead other industries: self-service, matching of agent to customer, and integration of Web and contact center channels.

Companies in the survey were rated on the Genesys Contact Center Capabilities Maturity Model, Nordale says. The model consists of four phases: Establishment, Consolidation, Performing and Dynamic. Based on the study results, financial services companies tend to fall into the "Performing" phase, where the focus shifts from reducing contact center costs to improving interaction quality.

Survey participants certainly appear to be working to improve interaction quality. Seventy percent of participating financial institutions said they measure customer satisfaction specifically with the contact center. Skills-based routing reportedly is used in the financial services sector by more than 80 percent of the respondents, 78 percent expect to increase their call center staff levels and 49 percent plan to spend more on call center technology than they did in 2006.

Much of that investment, Nordale believes, will be aimed at reducing silos and creating an integrated customer experience. "As [banks] continue to work on delivering value to the customer across the various channels, they are continually working to stitch the channels together for a seamless experience," he comments. "Delivering a coordinated customer experience ... translates to increased customer loyalty and dramatically improved sales performance."

CALL CENTERS

Serious About Call Centers

Banks aren't afraid to invest in their contact centers, according to a recent study by Genesys Labs. Most significant, perhaps, is the fact that while 78 percent of financial institutions surveyed said they intend to increase call center staff, only 12 percent plan to outsource those jobs. Other key findings of the study include:

• 70 percent of participating financial institutions measure customer satisfaction specifically with the contact center.,

• Skills-based routing is currently used by more than 80 percent of respondents.,

• 49 percent of participants plan to invest more in call center technology.

Source: Genesys Labs

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