Workforce Optimization Featured Article

As Companies Go Global, Different Customer Types Need Recognition

April 21, 2014

Banks have always had customer service challenges. The type of services banks provide are highly commoditized, as evidenced by the old joke about choosing a bank: one’s giving away a free toaster for opening an account, and another is giving a free blender. Which do we need?

Today, the competition is even sharper: customers expect more. It’s also more challenging to maintain customer service standards, since banking is more globalized than ever and customers expect service via far more channels than simply face-to-face at the counter. For banks that deal with many customers all over the world, such as the United Arab Emirates’ Emirates NBD, what works for one customer may not work for another.

“It is probably the most complex and most difficult challenge for bankers, especially here,” said Suvo Sarkar, general manager of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates NBD. “At Emirates NBD, we have 70 nationalities of bankers dealing with 200 nationalities of customers, so that’s 1,400 combinations of staff and customers that have to work well all the time. What is good service to a Lebanese customer is not necessarily good service to an Indian or British customer,” he told the Web site Gulf Business.

Lenders and other types of financial services are searching to find ways to offer consistency of service across multiple channels and different types of customers – up to and including social media and mobile apps -- and many are failing.

“We are doing a lot of work in training our frontline staff to be consistent in terms of what they tell customers, how they appear to customers and how they behave with them,” said Sarkar.

Skills-based routing and high-quality workforce management and optimization are some of the ways organizations can ensure they are servicing different types of customers (different nationalities and different investment products, for example) with consistent service. Agents will have strengths that they bring to their jobs – language skills, cultural knowledge, more intensive knowledge of certain banking services, and skills with customers in different stages of their customer lifecycles – and skills-based routing can ensure that these agents are connected to the right customers. Workforce optimization is what ensures that the right types of agents are available to service customers at the right time.

Using forecasting, contact centers can determine when certain customers traditionally call, and can build schedules that will more accurately match real call volume. By ensuring that sufficient numbers of agents with the right skills are available to handle these incoming calls, contact centers can reduce hold times, raise first-call resolution and leave customers more satisfied after completing their transaction. In the long run, it saves money and customer relationships. 

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