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As we mark a year of COVID-19 in the U.S., we have a deeper understanding of the changes the pandemic brought to the economic landscape, and how those changes have affected account holder experiences. Consumer engagement has been strained, and institutions have had to think creatively and adapt fast.

Fortunately, the pandemic has also shown organizations where there’s room for improvement and growth – and a tightened focus on customer experience (CX) has turned out to be one of the most effective methods for financial institutions to elevate their position in a competitive marketplace.

Why Experience Matters

Why should financial institutions focus on consumer experience? The most compelling reason is financial: according to Forrester’s 2020 US Banking Customer Experience Index, “CX leaders grow revenue faster, drive higher brand preference, and can charge more for products.”

Of the individuals who felt respected and valued by their banks, 71% planned to stay with their bank, 87% said they would actually advocate for the institution, and 82% said they were likely to spend more money there in the future. On the other hand, “only 15% of annoyed customers will advocate[...] 17% say they will stay[...], and only 13% will spend more.”

In the past, switching financial institutions was a pain, so an imperfect experience - whether because of technology or pricing or another CX pain point - didn’t necessarily mean a loss for the business. Now, in our digital-first world, it’s easier than ever to change financial institutions. With a crowded market of increasingly competitive digital offerings, maintaining and increasing loyalty is crucial.

The Contact Center as the Experience Hub

The foundation of any interaction experience is the contact center. It is an account holder’s main point of interaction with their financial institution, intersecting with all channels and touchpoints (e.g. the website, live chat, email, and over-the-phone). It’s how they purchase new products, get help with their account, or switch from another institution.

For your institution to succeed against your competition, it is essential that your contact center function seamlessly, leading your account holder along a clearly defined path from first contact to resolution while engaging with account holders in a way that makes them feel respected, understood, and confident that they can trust you. This process needs to feel effortless and frictionless, which calls for significant effort on your part.

To present an effective contact center experience, you will need to go beyond the usual collaboration of people, process, and technology. Truly frictionless experiences call for holistic experience design and orchestration, needing to work together under a clear, cohesive CX strategy.

If this sounds like a tall order, it is, but it’s not impossible. Nor is it a cost of doing business. It’s an investment – in CX capabilities, and in the increased revenue that a successful experience strategy will surely bring.

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How to Enhance CX with Your Contact Center

How can you improve your CX strategy, and align it with your contact center? The first step is to develop an end-to-end understanding of how you are doing with your CX delivery. At Avtex, we compile this CX current-state analysis by performing thorough audits that identify where your CX strategy is succeeding and where it could be improved. A holistic overview is essential to prevent the different areas of your business from forming silos, which can cause a disruptive ripple effect when one department makes a change that the others aren’t aware of, causing disjointed experiences for your account holders.

Once you have a comprehensive picture of how your organization is doing with CX, you'll be able to confidently identify how and where contact center enhancements will improve the overall experience.

The following are examples of high-impact contact center solutions that have proven to enhance CX:

1. Call Center Automation

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions empower account holders to get identification and authorization processes out of the way before connecting with an agent – so that when the agent steps in, they have all the relevant information right in front of them. IVR systems also offer the additional benefit of flagging and preventing potential fraud attempts.

2. Contact Center Agent Enablement

A cohesive omnichannel employee experience will help your agents to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Workforce automation solutions enable your agents to respond to texts, calls, and chat messages from the same central dashboard. This enables quicker responses and provides your team with the context they need to ensure a seamless experience.

3. AI Technology

Bots have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years – not only do they synthesize information better, but they can add hyper-personal touches like wishing an account holder a happy belated birthday if they call the week after celebrating. Smart bots can address account holder concerns on their own, but can also identify when to escalate a problem to a human, as well.

A seamless, positive account holder experience is essential to any financial institution’s continued success and growth, and the contact center is the core of CX. By implementing effective automation tools and AI, you can empower your agents to give consumers the experience they crave, so they leave a conversation with your financial institution feeling respected, heard, and appreciated. At the end of the day, a positive emotional experience will yield financial results in your organization’s bottom line, and Avtex is here to help. We offer complete, end-to-end CX design and orchestration, and we are ready to help you transform the experiences you deliver.

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