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Perspectives: High-Performance Contact Centers

Contact Centers Emerging technologies such as VoIP; voice- driven, self-service systems; and intelligent call routing systems can increase flexibility in the bank contact center, resulting in improvements in agent productivity and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Contact Centers Emerging technologies such as VoIP; voice- driven, self-service systems; and intelligent call routing systems can increase flexibility in the bank contact center, resulting in improvements in agent productivity and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Q: What emerging technologies can help banks maximize the business value of their contact centers?

James Barry, OneUnited Bank: Banks can more seamlessly leverage remote agent capability through IP telephony over secured VPN connections. In doing so, the bank can extend its hours and have on-demand capacity through remote workers while still retaining control over data in its protected network. Additionally, with the emergence of VXML and CCXML, banks can unleash the power of voice services on their Web sites and through custom-developed IP call centers.

Laurent Philonenko, Cisco Systems: New voice-driven, self-service systems enable callers to use natural language to quickly and easily check balances or transfer funds. Steering these simple transactions to self-service significantly reduces the burden on bank representatives while still providing easy access and quality service to customers. For banks looking to better understand their customers and make their agents more efficient, the latest contact center analytics technology can detect changes in emotion and behavior, lengthy silences or various semantic patterns and assign a business context to the conversation. Banks can then identify certain situations, such as when a customer might be disconcerted, and use the information to assess customer satisfaction, understand more about the content of the calls, educate agents and intervene before a customer churns.

Jeff Ridley, ShoreTel: Voice over IP (VoIP) is a key component in the contact center. For years, there has been much talk in the industry about service-enhancing ideas such as the distributed contact center, back-office integration and differentiated services. While all of these were technically feasible with legacy solutions, the cost, complexity and overall burden of implementation were way too high, limiting the applicability to the ultra-large banking institutions. With VoIP, real efficiencies are possible with agents at any location or branch. The ability to manage callers based on value as well as the ability to automate agent activity is drastically simplified.

Scott Gray, ClientLogic: The advance of intelligent call routing and segmentation platforms are the key to delivering the caller to the right area, with the right information. Combining this with CTI [computer telephone integration] and customer analytics allows the bank to route the caller into its chosen contact-handling methodology, providing desired service and satisfying the customer's initial inquiry using the lowest cost and most appropriate channel.

Q: What are the major challenges for bank contact centers?

Barry, OneUnited Bank: With recent guidance promulgated by the regulatory agencies on VoIP and the attention in the media on information leaks, banks find themselves having to redouble their efforts to ensure that not only what is said by their agents is appropriate, but that their once-trusty phone platform doesn't become a source for identity or confidential information leaks. This translates into a much more diverse set of training requirements to ensure not only quality service but also compliance.

Ridley, ShoreTel: Quality. The days of seeing contact center technologies as simply a way to squeeze maximum productivity from agents are waning, while the need to focus on quality is becoming front-page news. No one is ready to give up on productivity tools, but without satisfied customers, you're dead. The solution requires several looks at many different facets of the center, including agent retention and training, quality management through well-defined monitoring, and evaluation programs. Building and maintaining the customer relationship and the customer information[necessary to do so], and combining the right agent with the right customer at the right time are especially essential.

Gray, ClientLogic: Security and the associated regulatory compliance are the most critical challenges. Identity theft and personal protection are at the forefront of most consumers' banking decisions. This situation negatively impacts attempts at cross-selling, as all new or unsolicited offers are viewed with a much higher level of skepticism. Today, with attrition and automation, callers into the banking call centers are regularly distrusting, frustrated by poorly designed IVR systems and calling about some type of error.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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