Insight Center

Industry knowledge to help you grow your business

Contact Center = Cost Center? Think Again. Instead, Try Contact Center = Customer Engagement Center.

The contact center has changed dramatically, not just in the financial industry, but in all. While it’s true key stakeholders sometimes think of contact centers as “cost centers” — transactional in nature and not really driving value — it’s also true your customers bank in a fast-paced digital arena, ruled by the need for (often immediate) brand engagement. They expect their financial institution to understand their needs, their values and to solve their problems quickly and easily.

Most financial institutions are responding by transforming their contact centers from transactional order takers to strategic growth centers. The best ones are at the heart of their organizations, improving the customer experience and strengthening customer relationships. This is the ultimate goal of the contact center which, according to Gartner, is proving to be the only true durable competitive advantage.

The key to improving the customer experience? Talent.

Successful leaders realize the importance of their contact centers and are willing to make investments in technology, training — and especially people. I think when you’re recruiting and attracting talent for the contact center today, it is very different than it used to be. Understanding what they will be asked to do and are expected to do has changed.

Today’s contact center agent is someone who, first and foremost, has to care. They have to be someone who is going to listen, who is going to understand and remain present in the entire conversation, and truly understand the caller’s needs and what their questions are. Having the knowledge to even go past what’s being asked, so that they can further delight the customer is paramount. It’s not just about customer satisfaction; it’s about customer delight.

Why outsourcing can be a competitive advantage

Most financial institutions have representatives who focus on general inbound queue calls, but even the best customer service representative cannot be expected to offer shining expertise in every area. A strong outsourcing supplier can offer your institution benefits beyond just staffing and capacity. They can offer a specialized understanding of your industry, not to mention valuable insight and proven strategies that can only come with years of experience and training. And the right supplier can offer highly-skilled talent with the right expertise to handle specific, even complex areas of your business.

When seeking out a third-party partner, be sure to look for customer satisfaction must-haves such as quick issue resolution, specialized high-touch service as well as quality assurance measures to ensure performance consistency. In short, if you choose the right provider, you’ll be receiving more than just “bodies in seats,” but actual expertise that can help your institution stand apart from the rest.

Keep your in-house team doing what they do best 

There’s no easy solution for maintaining control over the customer experience. At first, it can seem like no one is suited better for your customer engagement than your own personnel. But, it’s so often the case that two things get in the way: time and focus. Handling an influx of inbound calls during a change event, such as an acquisition or digital conversion, for example — results in frustration and subpar service. However, leaning on an outside resource for augmented support can free up your internal employees to focus on core activities.

Moving towards a high-quality approach to outsourcing your contact center can prove to be a very valuable strategy. Although it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly how much value this type of talent provides to the bottom line, at the very least you’ll deepen relationships with account holders and deliver a customer experience on par or exceeding your competitors. Can you really put a dollar value on that?

Click on the following link to download Harland Clarke’s “Ten Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your Contact Center” checklist.

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Harland Clarke Corp. is a leading provider of best-in-class integrated payment solutions and marketing services, serving multiple industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, insurance, and telecommunications.

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