May 19, 2011

How important is it to provide contact center representatives with a 360-degree view of the customer, and what types of systems enable that? What metrics are the most important in helping banks track the productivity and effectiveness of their call center staffs? How is social media changing banks' contact center activities, and ultimately, what is the role of the call center in the 21st century multichannel financial institution? --Peggy Bresnick Kendler

First and foremost, providing an excellent customer experience needs to be part of the corporate culture, and it needs to come from the top, down. The staff needs the tools and the empowerment to provide an outstanding customer experience. You need to train your staff, empower your staff, and live and breathe outstanding customer experience.

Social media is a gift -- you have customers freely sharing their thoughts and ideas and needs and their complaints. Organizations should have an enterprisewide social media strategy that involves marketing and the contact center. The contact center shouldn't be an afterthought, but a core contributor, both to the strategy and to delivering on the strategy. In financial services -- especially in the big retail banks -- contact centers should be responsible for responding to customers in social networks. Enterprises need to use text analytics solutions that will structure and find customer insights and make that information available.

The primary productivity metric in the call center is average handle time (AHT). Average talk time (ATT) plus after-call work time (AWT) equals average handle time. Organizations also look at the number of calls handled, occupancy rates, and metrics such as upsell attempts and closes. You want to create a balanced scorecard in which you find the right balance among productivity, revenue generation, quality and customer satisfaction.

The contact center is front and center in driving change within organizations and is the primary interface in financial services. Contact centers in the future will be pivotal in ensuring that customers receive an outstanding customer experience. Technology is an enabler, but when it's all said and done, customers remember the experience they had with the human being.