“The contact center is critical now because of the high emotional state people are in. It’s such a high stress time. People’s health and wealth are at risk.” Ian Jacobs, Forrester Research
The COVID-19 crisis has pushed a tremendous amount of change on everyone. There have been procedural shifts as society grapples with how to respond – everything from working from home, to teaching our children, to getting groceries. In such a tumultuous time, the last thing people need to worry about is how to do their banking. But as social distancing becomes the new norm, financial institutions (FIs) are instituting drive-thru only policies and are limiting in-branch services or closing branches altogether. These changes are creating a large influx of customers using digital channels, and this sudden migration has left some FIs scrambling to support both customers and contact center staff.
Customers Must Have Support
Customers who have never used their bank’s digital channels want to speak to actual humans — people who can help them navigate and understand their bank’s technologies. Digital onboarding is tough to do well at the best of times, but it has now become crucial.
Banks cannot afford to add to their customers’ stress by offering frustrating or confusing experiences. The best contact centers are reducing customer stress by providing efficient, knowledgeable support that eases anxiety. FIs that offer compassionate, hassle-free onboarding can forge deep, long-lasting customer relationships. Those that fail risk alienating customers. The stakes are high, and the pressure is mountingon contact center reps.
Call Centers Are Facing Adversity
This is a difficult time for contact center staff with higher volumes of support requests from anxious customers. However, it is not just the increased volume that is putting a strain on them, changing work conditions exacerbate the problem.
Some call center reps are still coming into the office —others are working from home. For those at home, their health risks are minimized, but they are losing their typical workresourcesmaking their jobs more challenging. Many are also dealing with increased distractions like barking dogsor children needing attention.
If all that were not enough, these reps are also experiencing more customers who specifically need help understanding how to use the bank’s digital channels. Moreover, increased volumes mean they need to keep handling times as short as possible. Nevertheless, they still need to deliver an exceptional experience to the anxious customer.
In their struggle to provideexcellentcustomer service, FIs must remember that their customers aren’t the only ones adapting to this ever-changing situation. Their call center staff is under extreme pressurewith increased workloadsandbeing pushed outside their comfort zone. FIs need to be empathetic to them as well.
To ease the pressure of their call center staff and improve customer service, FIs can:
- Offer better support tools to make it easierto onboard customers to their digital channels;
- Increase call center staff to reduce workload and stress; and
- Provide specific training on digital offerings sorepscan betterexplain them to customers.
Increased Staff Can Help
Many FIs are adding more contact center reps to onboard customers and help them migrate to digital. While increasing staff will certainly reduce the average number of daily support requests per rep, FIs must not forget the customer experience. New staffneed to be quickly trained but under these conditions, training has become more difficult. When working from home, many of the training tools and tactics to which they are accustomed are no longer available.
- How do you shadow an employee who is working from home?
- How can you ask your office mate a quick question?
- How do you train large groups of people when social distancing prevents you from hosting instructor-led training?
The answer, for many, will be to use their learning management system (LMS) to deliver distance training. Unfortunately, most FIs have antiquated LMSs that deliver poor learning experiences. Traditional LMSs lack the tools required to quickly author effective technology training, and their tracking tools don’t show how ready your reps are to field customer requests. To overcome this, FIs need to identify modern learning experience platforms that can develop effective online training as quickly as possible. Without effective training, new reps may cause more problems than they solve.
Technology Walkthroughs to Teach Reps and Customers
There are two types of customers who are switching to digital banking in light of COVID-19: “fence-sitters” (customers who use some technology but are set in their ways), and older folks who are nervous about using new technology. These people are reluctant to try online or mobile banking ingeneral. Now, they realize they need help making the switch to digital.
To ease customer anxietywhenmigrating to digital banking, FIs need to ensure their contact center staff is knowledgeableabout their digital products. In many cases, the staff does not bank with his or her employer, so they aren’t familiar with their FI’s technology. As FIs increase call center staff to handle increased volumes, their need for technology training and support tools becomes more urgent.
Right now, the best tool they can offer is walkthroughs of their fintech that both call center staff and customers can access. Giving customers an environment to try the new tech without worrying about making a mistake or the fear of the unknown would reduce customer stress.
For call center reps, technology walkthroughs would be an invaluable tool for onboarding customers to digital channels and could reduce stress for both the customer and the rep.Being able to share a link to a relevant walkthrough can ensure everyone is on the same page.
Technology walkthroughs are essential for new reps who have no experience with their FI’s tech yet are expected to step in and handle high volumes of customers who are switching to digital. The challenge for FIs then becomes, how do they get technology walkthroughs built and deployed quickly?There are three options:
Build Them In House – Building technology walkthroughs in-house is a challenge for FIs at any time. In house development teams are notoriously busy, so rolling anything out in this crisis isn’t likely to happen quickly. Contact center reps need support today, not next week.
Hire a Development Shop – Cancelled projects have left many development shops with extra bandwidth to handle custom jobs; however, going this route will not produce walkthroughs quickly enough. Reps need support right now.
Find a Tool – A walkthrough creation tool is the fastest way to build the needed technology. The right one will need an online portal to house the walkthroughs. And, it needs to be accessible to contact center reps and customers. Having a public-facing hub for your technology walkthroughs will reduce volumes by giving customers a tool to self-help. This will shorten call handling times by providing a reference tool for reps and customers.
Now is a time of great turmoil. People are worried about their health, families and finances. As social distancing is going to be required for the next few months, people are being forced to start using their FI’s digital channels. Let’s be honest here, most FIs have been looking for ways to drive digital adoption for a few years. While this crisis is scary and awful, it does present an opportunity for FIs to help their customers transition to digital banking. FIs that can react quickly to help their customers and their contact center reps adjust to this crisis will build loyalty and deepen relationships with their customers and staff. It is time for us all to step up.
John Findlay is the founder and CEO of LemonadeLXP, a SaaS learning experience platform that helps financial institutions with the human side of digital transformation. LemonadeLXP drives customer adoption of the bank’s new tech by transforming frontline staff and customers into digital experts. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.