Written by: Phil Durand, Director Customer Experience Management, Confirmit

Wembley. It’s always just a little further away than I remember. However the journey was well worth it when I joined Awards International at its annual UK Financial Services Experience Awards as a judge searching for the ‘Most customer centric organisation’.

What I always love about these events is the chance to listen to people as they tell their stories. And in that respect there is often a pattern. A business need comes to the fore, senior management and leadership gather around saying things like ‘things must change’. Enter stage left a plucky, idea-filled optimist with the beginnings of a plan and a battle cry of ‘who’s with me?’ A team of multi-skilled believers are drawn to the cause and the plan gradually becomes a reality. Results are seen, good ones too. People sit up and take note. Customers start saying nice things. The business need is addressed. And all is well with the world.

Continuing on this theme, one of the key drivers for the winning entrant for customer centricity – Intelenet – was the need develop a seamless experience for the customer despite the inevitable complexity of the business.
Intelenet is based in India, providing off-shore support for a number of brands. Listening to their story, it quickly became obvious that they secured their win because of the sheer lengths they went to in order to solve the problems that had grown and evolved within the disparate systems of one of their key corporate customers. Of course, the customer in question had the foresight to realise there was a problem, the humility to ask for help and the budget to pay for a solution. But it’s worth noting that their problems were solved outside of their corporate machinery – by someone else. Indeed Intelenet built them a map that has made a real difference to their business.

The best way to explain what they did is to ask if you’ve ever phoned a bank and got the feeling you’re being passed from one team to another until, either by design or chance, you find yourself speaking to someone who can actually help? This is the problem Intelenet solved by going to extraordinary lengths.

They developed a way to join together all the disparate systems within the client, creating a single front end that drew information from the right bits of the right systems when needed. In essence, the agents on the phone went from having to contend with many multiples of systems, naturally each with its own login and password, to a single interface that contained all they might ever need.

Overcoming the evolved complexity of their client’s systems, and building a simpler experience for the agent, introduced instant benefits for the customer. Issues were resolved on first calls more often; calls didn’t need to last as long (this is a point about real efficiency of process, not to be confused with the arcane drive to keep average call handling times down); agents had the correct information at their fingertips, quickly. And guess what? Customers noticed.
I’ve described Intelenet’s approach to solving its client’s business need in less than 100 words – which doesn’t do justice to the sheer effort and intelligence of what they developed as a solution. However, huge congratulations must go to them – and to all the other entrants – for their near-intoxicating dedication to doing the right thing for the customer.

Each of the nominees demonstrated that there is a very real need to build, deliver and maintain a customer centric approach to business in the financial services sector. Consumers increasingly rate the customer experience, along with the financial stability of their institution, as the most important factor in determining their degree of trust in and loyalty to their provider.

When FS customers call the contact centre they now expect a higher level of expertise and personalisation, and they expect their prior digital interactions – on the corporate website, mobile applications etc – to be tracked. Agents are expected to understand the context and reasons for each contact. Those interacting at the coal face must be able to apply their knowledge, account history, and best practices to resolve customer issues, and help them achieve their financial goals. And they can only do this if they are work as a team, with the customer at the heart of every process and at the centre of everything they do.

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