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Reducing staff turnover is key to improving customer service

Almost every sector in the UK has faced unprecedented disruption in 2020 and the finance sector is no different. In particular, businesses operating in this industry have had to overcome a series of obstacles to ensure they can still deliver when it comes to customer service. Contact centre staff have been forced to work remotely and agents have had to deal with increasingly complex issues. Consumers, however, are continuing to expect top-level customer service and demand to be able to interact with businesses through multiple channels. 

Due to ever evolving customer issues, and the difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has never been more important that businesses in the finance sector integrate a human element into the customer experience. But what can be done to both secure and enable the very best teams to provide excellent customer experiences in an industry with an average agent attrition rate of 40%?     

What’s more, while fewer customers are calling contact centres due to self-service digital tools, the ones that do ultimately reach an agent tend to be experiencing more complex issues that digital channels can’t resolve. These issues, therefore, require staff to have more skills and more experience when dealing with customers over the phone, especially when it relates to sensitive information such as outgoings and earnings, for example. Using training alone to get agents to the necessary level is costly and often inefficient, especially in the financial services industry.  So, what can companies in the financial sector do to reduce agent churn and keep the staff with increasingly valuable skillsets?

The three steps to reducing churn  

Investing in new digital tools – chatbots, online forms – can help reduce some of the burden on contact centre staff and can help reduce costs. However, you must, at the same time, invest in your staff. Agents that feel unsupported and ill-equipped to handle increasingly complex customer concerns are more likely to leave. In fact, a common concern for many Finance and Insurance organisations is agent retention; 83% of agents quit within three years, 30% quit within three months, and in some cases, attrition in the first two weeks is as high as 22%. 

There are three ways in which you can reduce attrition levels within your organisation by creating better skilled and more valuable agents internally that will, in turn, improve the external customer experience:     

1) Equipping staff with the right skills 

The role of a contact centre agent for a financial organisation has evolved considerably over the past couple of years. Many staff members may have been employed initially for traditional telephone roles. However, the market has changed and most companies have evolved into using an omni-channel digital model. Recruitment and training processes must, therefore, evolve in tandem.  Have your HR and Talent Acquisitions teams re-evaluated the training on offer, the induction processes and are they recruiting people with the right skills? 

Customers increasingly want to engage across asynchronous messaging channels (Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, etc.) for sales or service. Solutions are available to enable all these channels to be dealt with in the same way, classify the customer’s intent, answer their queries if possible, and if necessary (or desired), escalate to an agent. Using these types of services removes the need for multiple point solutions, reduces agent training time, and provides broad reach to customers across multiple channels.     

2) Support staff with intelligent technology

New technologies such as knowledge portals and AI, can help provide staff with the information they need to improve the customer experience. Agents can now seamlessly access detailed information or process and compliance requirements. For example, knowledge portals can give an agent guidance on how to change a customer address, policy type, or even how to onboard. Access to this information can also be given to a customer via web portals, so if your customer wishes to change their own address, they can be guided through the process by information adapted for external customer use. Putting in place the appropriate tech not only improves the customer experience but significantly reduces agent training time and average call handling time. It also ensures that if your agent does deal with a complex customer call, that they can quickly and easily access the necessary information.  

3) Building the right culture

Companies must ensure they build a team of effective and knowledgeable agents while simultaneously making it easier for them to perform efficiently. Business leaders must also remember that staff need to feel valued. Creating a workplace culture that showcases how valued staff members are will improve happiness and reduce the number of people leaving. In turn, reducing hiring costs.   

Having the right tools and technology in place can help a staff member enhance their career. By ensuring they have access to easy and simple development tools and are being encouraged to grow, agents will feel empowered, valued, and more likely to stay.    

Well-trained agents, equipped with the right tools and knowledge, will also provide a far more efficient and effective customer experience and create happy, satisfied customers. Net promotor scores and CSAT’s will improve, customer retention will increase, and agent attrition will reduce alongside average handling time.    

Staff have never been so important

Many business leaders believe that their staff are their greatest asset. But employees working for contact centres at financial organisations are having to deal with more negative and complex calls, due to issues created by the tough economic climate.  Put simply, the staff need all the support they can get. Therefore, now is the time to invest in those at the heart of the contact centre, the agents.      

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