Article : State Of The Contact Center: Finance & Insurance
If there is one word that defines the financial or insurance contact center, it is "stakes."
While all customer-centric businesses are urged to recognize that every customer is important and every transaction is paramount, the sell is considerably easier within the financial and insurance spaces. There, contact centers are literally responsible for managing their customers’ livelihoods, and the consequences of failure directly affect customers’ wellbeing.
The significant, personal implications tied to even the most basic financial interactions positions trust at the center of the equation. Whereas trust represents an obvious - and often important - differentiator in product-driven contact center environments, it represents the core of the financial services and insurance offerings. If customers cannot get the organization to handle each interaction responsibly, reliably, accurately and securely, they cannot even consider moving forward with a business relationship.
Desirable in most cases, perpetual access is imperative in the financial services sector. Because there are no strict rules about when one will encounter an issue related to his financial or physical well-being, there can be no strict rules about when one can interact with support from his financial services or insurance provider. And insofar as the issue can be simultaneously urgent and comprehensive, instant access to an agent or system capable of quickly handling a complex, high-touch is a required ingredient in this particular flavor of "always-on" care.
Personalization also takes on a new meaning in the context of finance and insurance interactions. Whereas many organizations can get away with using broad customer profiles to establish their customer-centricity, financial and insurance institutions must, in all situations, tailor their experiences to the specific, intricate tastes, behaviors, sentiments and characteristics of individual customers. Personalization becomes a matter of precision.
Like those of all industries, finance and insurance contact centers routinely engage in sales and support interactions.
Unlike those of many industries, the scope of their contact centers does not end there. Concerns related to fraud, security, privacy and the sheer nuance of managing issues on a microscopic, personal level necessitate a comprehensive approach to the contact center function.
Segments commonly included in the finance and insurance contact center mix:
- Lead and demand generation - soft, outbound marketing and sales
- Sales - basic features and services
- Licensed sales - higher-profile, higher-complexity, higher-stakes interactions
- Customer care
- Customer retention/relationship expansion
- Technical support
- Claims support
- Fraud and fraud prevention support
- Compliance/back office support
All segments must be present in every available contact channel, possess live person and self-service options and be tailored to specific customer types (individuals, high-net-worth investors, business, etc).
Trust and personalization, two of the key tenets of optimal financial or insurance interactions, combine to form the most fundamental challenge associated with the industry’s contact centers.
Because the data involved in industry interactions is so significant and personal, the need for stronger security, privacy and reliability is paramount. Even the slightest inclination that data is at risk of compromise will irreparably destroy a customer’s willingness to continue his relationship with a financial or insurance institution.
And the risk does not simply apply to the organization’s standing with customers. Heavily regulated, finance and insurance organizations are responsible for assuring that they maintain compliance even as personal customer interactions transition to more public forums.
Collectively, the data security challenge bottlenecks organizations’ efforts towards the creation of an omni-channel customer experience. Aware that convenience and customer preference are important, these organizations want to offer comprehensive service in social, web and mobile channels, but the matter of data limits the extent to which they can do so.
The complexity of finance and insurance contact centers also creates challenges in today’s omni-channel world. The variety of contact center functions necessitate an often simultaneous need for specialization, efficiency and efficacy. Establishing the staff and systems needed to deliver on those tenets - regardless of when, where, how or why the customer is contacting - is no walk in the park.
Because of the intricate, personalized nature of interactions in the finance and insurance industries, "traditional" contact center metrics like average handle time are inappropriate benchmarks of performance. On the other hand, the urgency often associated with financial transactions means that efficiency is particularly important. Juggling the need to keep interactions seamless and painless without driving agents to rush through calls is an ability that will separate functional finance and insurance contact centers from elite ones.
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Published: Thursday, March 5, 2015