Do you work in or manage a call center at a bank or credit union? If so, you know the many challenges that come with effectively and efficiently answering every customer call – questions spanning the vast array from tech assistance to products and services offered at your financial institution. Proper knowledge management for your staff and self-service options for customers are essential to ensuring your bank or credit union is providing a great customer experience. In order to make your job a little easier, we’ve put together a list of the top three best practices for bank and credit union call centers.

1. Ensure that Customer Service Staff Have Easy Access to the Information They Need

This is one of the most pervasive and crippling problems facing banks and credit unions today – customer service staff don’t have immediate access to the information they need to best service customers. Banks and credit unions typically sell a vast array of products and services. As such, customer service staff are responsible for fielding questions related to each of these different offerings. That’s a tall order, which is why it is so important that customer service staffers have a reliable resource to quickly and accurately reference when answering customer queries.

A survey by American Express reported: “In order to provide consumers with an excellent customer service experience, representatives must be able to ‘provide a satisfactory answer to their question’ (86%) or be able to ‘connect them with someone who is knowledgeable’ (78%).” The survey also found that consumers believe the most important attribute of a successful customer service professional is efficiency – or the ability to answer questions or handle transactions quickly.

As it stands, however, most banking customer service staff are not able to do this because they are forced to rely on outdated or poor functioning intranets, dig through old documentation or ask one of the “go-to” product experts in their department. All of this searching cuts down on productivity, hurts customer service as the customer sits on hold and impacts employee morale — causing frustration and lack of confidence in both parties.

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In fact, a survey conducted by Engageware among 200 credit unions and banks found that 63% of the respondents said that their subject matter experts and managers spend more than 1/3 of their day answering front line questions with many spending more than 40%. Imagine what could be done with this time if frontline employees could have immediate, easy access to one single source of truth to the policy, procedure and product information they need to effectively answer customer questions.

Fortunately, there are solutions available today that can turn an sub-par intranet into a customer service agent’s best friend – empowering the customer service agent and increasing both productivity and customer satisfaction. Typically these solutions come in the way of SaaS technologies that utilize a knowledge base to organize and serve up appropriate content that is consistent across channels, easy to understand, well organized and up to date. The best SaaS technology providers for banks and credit unions will specialize in the financial industry and be well-versed in content creation and procedure management strategies.

As the World Wide Industry Benchmark Report for Contact Centers found:

“Technology can have a major impact on handle time. Best-in-class centers tend to have better knowledge base solutions, as well as co-browsing capabilities and well-oiled expert hub systems to help speed call resolution. They also put a premium on training and retention of top agents. Average call handle time, a key performance indicator (KPI), is an internal metric that is the sum of talk time, hold time and after call work time and, as such, has a number of opportunities for improvement. AHT is one of the most closely watched metrics in a contact center as an indicator of an agent’s skill and productivity.”

2. Offer Reliable and Effective Customer Self-Service

Today, when a customer or potential customer has a question or is conducting research on a new product or service, the first place they go is online – to a bank or credit union’s website. Therefore, it is imperative that banks and credit unions invest in customer self-service tools that allow customers to easily navigate to the information they are looking for and get the answers they need immediately.

When an effective knowledge base application is employed on a bank or credit union’s website, redundant customer questions, especially those that are technology related, such as “how do I reset my online banking password” are significantly reduced, which in turn frees up customer service agents to respond to more lucrative account and product inquiries. Bank of Oak Ridge deployed a knowledge base last year and overnight saw a 64% drop in technology related questions, freeing up precious resources in their call center.

graphic showing the how banking has changed, where people used to go to the branch to bank but now they can do mobile banking on their phone wherever they are

3. Empower Employees

In an American Express survey, it was found that consumers believe it is important that customer service professionals feel empowered to handle requests on their own without transfer or escalations. This is made possible by giving customer service agents the proper tools and bank training they require to effectively and autonomously do their jobs.

When banking employees feel confident in their ability to answer customer questions on their own, without the aid of an internal support person, not only does their morale improve but their overall effectiveness and disposition with customers improve as well.

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Similarly, empowerment is created by building a culture of independence where employees are encouraged to take ownership, initiate product conversations and offer recommendations based on a customer’s profile. The key to success here is to make sure your intranet or knowledge base can instantly answer at least 9 out of 10 questions for front line employees. Anything less than 9 out of 10 will derail the chances of reducing employee-to-employee questions and erode employee morale.

At Engageware, we help banks and credit unions offer the best in customer service and experience. Through Employee Knowledge Management and Customer Self-Service that integrate across mobile, internet, and digital banking channels, Engageware provides customer service agents, banking call center employees, and frontline staff with the information they need to answer customer questions.

Learn more about how we help banks and credit unions provide exceptional customer service that translates into revenue, loan and deposit growth. Start by giving your banking employees information that is easy to find and follow.

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