Mary Lou Joseph Dec 17, 2018

Want to supercharge customer engagement in branches? Look to your contact center

Customer experience—building real, valuable, personal experiences for customers—has become banking’s top competitive differentiator. Building these experiences has involved, in part, investment in new mobile and digital experiences. But arguably, investment in the contact center brings us closer to meeting customer expectations for a seamless, omnichannel experience.

Regardless of whether we’re ready, customers believe all channels should work in concert, including the branch. The staff in your contact center and branches should understand the customer’s journey without customers having to tell them.  And yet branch staff are at a disadvantage because they lack access to the same tools as their contact center counterparts. What contact center solutions can banks leverage to enhance the branch experience today or in the future? Here are three.

Advanced workforce management–Advanced WFM solutions match associate skillset closely to customer need. Contact center scheduling increasingly uses mobile scheduling apps to allow agents to state and manage their preferred work schedules. Multichannel scheduling can leverage “extra time” in other call centers, the back office or even branches.

Audio recording and related real-time performance management metrics–As a long-standing tool, audio recording allows the proverbial “monitoring for quality purposes” and creates solid knowledge of customer-associate interaction. Managers and staff can increasingly access recordings and data for coaching and self-assessment of progress toward goals. Aggregation and analysis also provide insights into customer feedback on products and services, troublesome processes or new opportunities.

Unified desktop–Well-designed desktop tools unify systems of engagement and of record. They provide a singular view of the customer engagement, including contact history with flags (indicating recent contact, open cases, unusual information and any information that will assist communication with the customer in an immediately relevant way). Additionally, robust, easily accessed knowledge management repositories house information that ensures fast, accurate responses to customer inquiries.

Advanced workforce management in the branch

Many contact center and branch challenges overlap: Both channels must create an environment that supports an engaged workforce. This means putting the right staff in front of the customer at the right time—for transactions as well as sales/service across business lines. Many of the same applications of data analytics apply.  

However, branch forecasting and scheduling differ greatly from the contact center, characterized by added complexity. The variables include the need to dual controls, determine minimum staffing levels and monitor attributes such physical queues, single line per queue, drive-up lanes and assisted self-service.

“Data and advanced analytics will lead you to the right capacity level, skill sets and full-time, part-time, peak-time staffing mix for each of your branches,” says Kerim Tumay, vice president of marketing at Kiran Analytics.

Testing one, two: Will audio recording work in the branch?

A top 10 U.S. bank is currently deploying in-branch audio recording to improve sales effectiveness and compliance. What can they expect? An audio recording pilot in 2017 at a U.K bank reflects what customers encounter through contact centers.

Going into the pilot, concerns arose over customer and staff reaction to having their conversations recorded. Yet more than 95 percent of customers offered the option agreed.  Branch associates also saw this as a protection: a record of their customer interactions in case of a challenge.

In-branch recording successfully replaced a costly mystery shopping program that touched only 2 to 3 percent of branch interactions. The bank has also seen a dramatic increase in compliance to process and successful outcomes for the customer.

The greatest opportunity to exceed expectations

Of all the tools contact center staff possess, branch staff could most benefit from one: seeing a complete picture of the customer’s engagement behavior and account history. Customers expect the branch banker to know they’ve used online chat three times and called the contact center to resolve an issue they’re now taking to the branch. They expect customized, personal interactions as they discuss their financial goals and objectives. These capabilities are no longer “nice to have”: They represent a baseline customer expectation.

Why now and now what?

Branch banks have a great opportunity to become leaders in customer experience:

  • Customers expect a consistent service and sales experience across all channels, whether or not we’re ready.
  • We need to quickly identify gaps in processes, technologies and resources that limit our ability to delivery exceptional customer experiences.
  • Significant financial benefits come to those who build and maintain platforms shared across channels.
  • Positive, technology-enabled experiences help engage and retain a productive workforce.

We must optimize operational performance and revenue/profitability for our shareholders across all channels, including the branch—now.  For banks that seek to bolster customer experience in branches, borrowing best practices from the contact center is a smart call.

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Mary Lou Joseph is a director of content marketing with Verint Systems.

 

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