Having employee brand ambassadors has never been more important for banks and credit unions than it is now, as banking and financial services are increasingly going digital and self-service.
A brand ambassador is an individual who has been engaged by a company or organization to be an official representative. It can be a loyal customer or patron who help spread the word and advocate about a brand. A valuable asset to any brand, they can help increase awareness of your financial institution and attract new customers.
Wait — you might be thinking — if transactions are going self-serve, why do we need better human brand ambassadors?
It’s true that more tactical, transactional business has migrated to a self-service or automated model. That’s taken a lot of workload volume off of the branch. But it also means the remaining interactions are the most critical and complex. These are the transactions your customers prefer to entrust to humans, for their higher expertise and more personalized advice. They are the transactions that matter most – like the mortgage process, loan application, and retirement or education savings.
It turns out, customers still want the human touch — particularly for these complicated and high-value financial matters. As a matter of fact, Rivel research has shown that 72% of consumers would never consider an online-only bank.
This means digital channels must have a seamless hand off to humans to ensure that the most complicated issues can be resolved quickly and easily. And as unhappy customers or high-touch transactions are routed to branch agents for that white glove service, those humans must be highly effective brand ambassadors.
Good customer engagement is important wherever customers are interacting with your human staff. That might be in a traditional branch location, or it might be in the larger sphere of frontline customer interactions — which includes virtual branches, ITM, video banking, call centers and more.
No matter where your staff interact with customers, building trust and quality relationships will lead to more profitable business and member retention. Without good customer engagement, levels of trust are lower, relationships are weaker and customer loyalty is at risk.
And the upside is huge. At Engageware, in our experience working with over 400 financial intuitions, we’ve found that strong customer engagement can lead to:
- 25-40% growth in loan appointments
- 22% increase in new accounts
- 47% more commercial appointments
- 1-2 minute reductions in handling time
- 15-25% reduction in call volume
- 2x customer NPS scores
At the same time, finding and keeping great branch and call center employees is getting harder. Turnover is still high and even in uncertain economic times, staffing shortages are complicating many FI’s ability to provide top notch service. In our ENGAGE 2023 report, we found that staffing is a top concern for contact centers — including improving service levels, training and development, and retention.
To ensure they have the brand ambassadors they need, banks and credit unions must pay attention to the resources, training, and staffing. Since human-assisted interactions are higher stakes, call agents and frontline branch employees themselves need more support to serve as trusted advisors. This is particularly true at a time with significant economic uncertainty. Our research shows that in a recession, customers expect FI’s to offer more strategy planning (34%) and 1-to-1 financial planning (16%).
Three ways to help staff be better brand ambassadors:
1. Reduce turnover
The more experienced and tenured your human agents are, the higher your customer engagement and customer experience will be. In our ENGAGE 2023 report, more than half of FIs told us that in order to deliver strong customer engagement, the #1 thing their institutions were in need of was staff.
2. Enable employees
Human agents must be able to rely on technology that will help them to work more efficiently, reduce “busy work” and provide answers quickly and consistently. Ensure that your employees have access to consistent, centralized resources and digital technology that helps them to work smarter — like automated appointment scheduling, digital queues, and lobby management.
3. Train and build skills
Human agents are being required to serve more often as trusted advisors for increasingly more complicated and high-anxiety transactions. They must be given adequate financial knowledge and training to give that guidance in a trustworthy manner. This means more substantive training and a single source of truth for all information about your products and services.
Learn more about how FIs are helping humans become better brand ambassadors by downloading ENGAGE 2023: Customer Engagement in Banking Annual Trends Report.
Interested in seeing how Engageware helps you to create more capable and confident human call agents and branch staff — including online appointment scheduling, online chat, and a robust centralized knowledge base? Contact us for a tour of the Engageware platform.