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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 customer experience in the financial industry. 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 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 customers 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 customer 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 banks. With a crowded market of increasingly competitive digital offerings, maintaining and increasing customer loyalty is crucial.

The Contact Center as the Experience Hub

The foundation of consumer experience is the contact center. It is the customer’s main point of interaction with their financial institution, whether that’s via the website, live chat, email or over the phone. It’s where customers go to purchase new products, get help with their account, or switch from another institution where lagging CX has let them down.

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

To give consumers an effective contact center experience, you will need to go beyond the usual collaboration of people, process, and technology. Truly frictionless CX calls for holistic design and orchestration as well – and all these elements need to work together under a clear, cohesive 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, and in the increased revenue that successful customer experience strategy brings.

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How to Enhance CX with Your Contact Center

How can you improve your consumer experience strategy, and align it with your contact center? The first step is to develop an end-to-end understanding of your current CX. At Avtex, we provide our clients with thorough audits to define where their CX strategy is succeeding, and where it can 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 customers.

When you get a full picture of your current customer experience upfront, you can also spot internal biases and ambiguity in your strategy. Once you’ve rooted those out, you’ll be ready implement three actionable steps to a more effective customer experience delivery:

1. Call Center Automation

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions from Avtex enable customers to get identification and authorization processes out of the way before connecting with an agent – so that when the customer speaks, the agent will have all the relevant information right in front of them. IVR systems can even detect potential fraud, and route the call to a more seasoned agent if necessary.

2. Contact Center Agent Enablement

Automation is just one way to enable your agents to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Avtex can equip you with a cohesive omni-channel employee experience that lets agents 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 consumer 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 customers a happy belated birthday if they call the week after celebrating. Smart bots can address customer concerns on their own, but can also identify when to escalate a problem to a human, as well.

A seamless, positive customer 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 bank feeling respected, heard, and appreciated. At the end of the day, 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 offer your customers.

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