The financial services industry has changed beyond recognition. E-banking and cross-border competition have brought greater choice, meaning customers are more volatile. With relatively few prospects to recruit, profitability must be maintained by retaining customers, increasing their value and controlling costs. The conclusion reached by many companies is that they need to differentiate the approach to each customer, which implies:
The promise of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to create one-to-one relationships now has to be delivered.
Gain a Single View of Customers -consolidating data from different product divisions, departments and channels is the first step in refining customer segmentations, which enables the company to take a customer and customer event-driven approach.
Use Channels More Effectively - the choice of channel (branch, contact center, etc.) depends on the individual's preference and type of transaction. While the contact center is increasingly important, companies must decide how to use branches, new channels (Web), and automated solutions, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to facilitate communication.
For example, a US credit card company cut card activation costs, increased revenues and broadened the range of services it offers by deploying a mixed domestic and offshore outsourcing solution.
Given current economic conditions and the difficulty of meeting complex CRM challenges in-house, financial services companies will look to the additional expertise and flexibility provided by outsourcing partners.
What outsourcers need to recognize is that financial services companies have concerns about industry regulations, data protection and the return on their previous CRM investments. For their part, clients must understand that the benefits of outsourcing are today more strategic than even five years ago.
Many concerns can be overcome by choosing the right partnership framework, such as a joint venture or buy-out, which not only makes for a close partnership with operational continuity, but also enables the client to put its past investments to work.
Even in a multi-client environment however, outsourcers work in many regulated sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, where concerns about legislation and representatives' knowledge levels are at least as high. What outsourcers need to do now is deliver the required differentiated customer management approach and demonstrate their ability to integrate with clients' operations.
The Outsourcer's Contribution to Differentiation
A factor important not to overlook is that costs too need to be differentiated as each customer has a different value for the company and will only pay a certain price. The company should be able to differentiate the cost and quality of the service given according to each customer's value and expectations. Options here include moving some functions to automated or offshore solutions.To ensure the performance of all operations, a formalized audit resulting in an outsourcing business case, and Customer Value Management, an economic model to predict and continuously optimize CRM program results, should be utilized.
Technology, Security and Integration
Outsourcers also consolidate and codify information - product data, customer responses, customer histories - to create Knowledge Bases, which improve quality and speed of service. For example, tracking customer profiles is an important for a student loan consolidation program, particularly as it handles the whole sign-up process from initial customer contact to loan agreement.
The final element is in the use of automated channels (e.g. IVR using speech to text), which need to be consistent with the client's brand and tailored to customers' behavior. Some customers will never accept automated channels, however for the rest their use must be encouraged, particularly to handle the 80% of transactions that are of little added value. IVR potentially is the most cost-effective way of security checking its client's credit card customers before transferring them to a representative.
Benefits the Industry Needs
About Olivier Carrot
Olivier Carrot is Divisional Director of SR. Teleperformance-France.
About George Kestler
About SR. Teleperformance
Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2004
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