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Opportunity Calling

Banks finally are realizing the contact center's potential as a relationship-building resource and profit center.

Relationship Builders

At the heart of the revenue opportunities offered by call centers is the ability to provide a platform through which banks can build their relationships with customers. Consumers have come to expect more from their banks than simply answering their balance inquiries, says KeyBank's Helwig. "We see a shift in client expectations, too -- they want help," he explains. "It's a big financial world out there, and people are bombarded by so many offers. They ask us if they can rely on us to help them figure things out. By looking at the relationship and asking the right questions, they'll know we're here to help them."

Financial institutions that are starting to get this right already are realizing benefits from knowing their customers better, maintains Joe Heinan, vice president of corporate marketing and strategy with Genesys Labs, a call center software provider based in Daly City, Calif. "Banks are finding the uptake in the number of products per household is going from one or two to six, seven or eight because they use more-targeted offers," he explains.

Traditionally, the call center was used for outbound sales calls, Heinan continues. Realizing that nobody enjoys being interrupted during dinner, smarter banks have trained their contact center agents to engage in proactive selling on inbound calls. This method, he says, leads to greater customer response to campaigns.

"The challenge for all service providers is how to exploit a [sales] opportunity without compromising the quality of the call," remarks Frank Madonna, vice president for service delivery with Jersey City, N.J.-based Mellon Investor Services Group. "You have to first meet the caller's expectations before you work on your other objectives," such as cross-selling or persuading a customer to use another channel, he adds.

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