Building a new reputation

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

Marian Hatfield outlines why customer-centricity is key to unlocking the marketing and operational power of contact centres.
‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer,’ might be a proverb uttered of late by observers of the financial services industry. A few high profile cases may not constitute a trend, but recent media coverage about poor customer service, controversial customer charging practices and a retreat from offshore contact centres clearly makes unpleasant reading for the industry. For financial services company directors and their marketing teams, however, there is a need to cut through the headlines and engage with the very real challenges they face around customer service and satisfaction.
As the need to differentiate services and products in competitive markets grows, so financial services providers have to evolve new ways in which they serve their customers. The historical benefits achieved through customer inertia are being eroded and customers are becoming more demanding. This is increasing pressure to adopt a truly customer-centric approach to reduce customer attrition and increase the value generated from existing customers. Contact centres can help support this strategy by delivering the right level of customer service.
This represents a fundamental shift in thinking, as contact centres are increasingly seen as revenue generators rather than purely cost centres. The key to this transition is good customer satisfaction, which is driven by the quality of service delivery. Companies need to ensure that they have efficient operations and excellent customer service, irrespective of whether it is delivered via in-house, outsourced, onshore or offshore channels.
This is sound business logic, and many financial services companies are reviewing their call centre outsourcing strategies to provide the right balance of service delivery and cost control to keep their customers happy, maximise profits, and maintain a good reputation in the market place.
A diverse customer management landscape
New research carried out by Mintel (2006) within the financial services industry highlights the diversity of customer management solutions adopted by UK financial service providers. More than half the senior executives interviewed stated that their companies have developed complex strategies for customer contact functions and use a mix of in-house and outsourced resources, often in tandem. It confirms that contact centres require the right mix of technology, people skills and customer strategies to drive value. The issue of quality and relevance of service continues to be at the fore.
To read the full article, please download the PDF above. 

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