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Access to Data in the Call Center Improves Customer Relationships

Mark, a personal and small business customer of a big commercial bank, called the bank to complain about a new paper statement fee. When the call center agent told him that she couldn’t do anything about it, Mark was angry about the response, went to his local branch, closed his accounts and left.

The teller didn’t ask him why he was closing the accounts. If he had, the teller could have saved the relationship for a mere $36 – the annual cost of the paper statement fee.

Had the call center agent been able to recognize Mark was a profitable customer and share Mark’s complaint instantly with the call center supervisor via an instant message, she may have been able to intervene. In this scenario, the supervisor would’ve had the opportunity to give the agent permission to waive the fee while on the phone – without Mark knowing that the decision wasn’t within her authority.

As a result of this lack of access to customer data, this big commercial bank lost a 10-year customer, one that needed both a mortgage and new auto loan within the next six months.

Knowledge is Power in Customer Relationships

A little bit of shared knowledge and the power to waive a fee for a valuable customer could have saved that bank hundreds of dollars – the cost of acquiring a new customer. It would have also resulted in a satisfied customer and potentially thousands in additional, profitable services made possible by preserving Mark’s good will toward the bank and his willingness to expand his product portfolio.

With increased regulatory scrutiny and an economy that continues to sputter, the quest for customer satisfaction and positive customer interactions is more important than ever. Financial institutions face increased competition for preferred customers, but as Mark’s example shows, the inability to share information through a dynamic workflow can have huge consequences.

During economic downturns, operational investments are usually focused on driving efficiencies and complying with new government requirements. Financial institutions wanting to create competitive advantage should also consider shifting their focus from a product-driven strategy to one that delivers what the customer needs, based upon a complete view of the customer.

To do this, institutions need to better manage the growing amounts of data being collected and create a system that provides call centers with one full view of the customer. Doing so helps call center agents improve the quality of service they deliver, which in turn greatly improves customer relationships.

Harnessing the Data Explosion

For years, companies have collected more and more information on customers, leading to an explosion of data. Banks and other financial institutions typically store customer data based upon product offerings and in separate retail banking, wealth management, and commercial banking systems, for instance. Applications used by marketing, sales, finance, support, and call centers store additional customer information.

Few if any of these systems connect to each other. Nor is there a bridge to the additional islands of customer information collected from the multiple channels customers now use to interact with a financial institution, including the web, telephone, email, mobile devices, and social media sites.

Connect the Dots to a Full Customer Profile

Agents armed with a full picture gain additional insight about the customer, which results in the delivery of a more personalized experience and fewer frustrated customers. Having access to a full view of a customer allows a call center agent to recognize a preferred customer, one that could be retained at a different level of service and thereby make the customer—and the bank—happy.

In a different scenario, it could give the agent a deeper understanding of a customer’s financial health, which could create an opening to upsell or cross sell services or products. Both scenarios can produce favorable satisfaction increases and earn an institution a competitive advantage.

In Mark’s case, the inability of the call center agent to recognize that Mark was also a small business client with a sizable account, a customer that should be afforded extra latitude and retained, ultimately led to the loss of the customer.

Leverage Data for Every Inbound Call

Real-time data, voice-of-the-customer programs, and post-call surveys can provide call centers with deeper insight into customers. These insights can be leveraged to get the most out of an inbound call, providing more opportunities for upselling and cross selling, and often more success with these offers.

Access to hard data can enhance an agent’s soft skills, such as listening, tone, empathy, conversational style, and word choice, to increase the value provided during a call. Armed with customer data, agents can hold compelling conversations without referring to a robotic script and speak knowledgeably with each customer. They can tailor conversations to the customer, rather than treating and viewing them as a one-size-fits-all profile.

Having access to the full view of a customer allows the agent to improve the customer experience and appear as an employee of the financial institution, strengthening the institution’s brand. This seamlessness allows the call center to be as effective as a branch location.

Data Integration with Workflows is the Key to Lifelong Customers

Customer data is a key factor in acquiring, managing, and retaining loyal customers. The data that supports customer-facing roles drives every interaction and the resulting experience is only as good as the information and the agent’s ability to access it. Giving all customer-facing agents access to the right information can be the difference between a profitable customer and an ex-customer—like Mark.