Some 65% of customers switch companies because of poor call centre customer service, according to the latest consumer research from business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.
According to Cutting Edge, firms in the financial industry are particularly focused on call centres, where most of their customer 'touches' occur. Between 1999 and 2001, the financial services industry increased call centre spending by 38% - a clear indication of pressure felt by the industry to provide better quality customer service. Most of these companies feel that their customer service distinguishes them from their competitors, and that those successfully using call centres as customer-centric service centres can boost profitability by establishing new customer relationships and by nurturing and growing existing ones.
The research report, 'Managing Financial Services Call centres', covers over 200 industry metrics and examines the best practices of major financial services companies including Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, Citigroup, Capital One, Allstate, Wachovia, and MetLife. It also highlights strategies and tactics that could enhance overall call centre efficiency and boost customer satisfaction. It details quantitative metrics and qualitative business practices in the following areas:
- Call centre agents' incentive and compensation packages;
- Performance metrics - e.g. turnover, blocked calls, cost per rep.;
- Inbound and outbound call metrics for financial services firms;
- Up-selling and cross-selling strategies;
- Offshore outsourcing;
- Process efficiency and call centre technology.
"In order to become profitable, call centres must begin asking customers what they specifically need or want, not just telling them what new promotion the company is offering," noted Cutting Edge senior analyst Elio Evangelista. "By catering personally to a customer's needs, the company can in turn build lasting and rewarding relationships."