We recently had an interesting discussion with a Customer Service Head of one of the leading banks in Africa, about how banking experience can be improved by empowering customer service agents with the right access to the backend applications for resolving customer queries efficiently. In banking contact centers compliance regulations are of utmost priority, and giving access of customer account information to agents is no less than opening a Pandora’s Box as it comes with its own share of pros and cons.
So following our discussion, we thought to put together the various questions and scenarios related to empowering agents with the right data and how it can be done in a compliant manner to improve the contact center productivity.
Customers usually turn to banking contact centers on daily basis as a preferred channel when it comes to services like cheque book request, blocking a card or transfer and balance related enquiries. This results in flood of calls on daily basis and if a customer service agent does not have the quick and easy access to required customer account information then there would be delay in resolving customer issues which eventually leads to bad customer experience.
How Do Banks Process and Store Customer Account Data?
Banks have software in place called Core Banking System (CBS) which is used to process bank’s most common transactions. As per Gartner, a Core Banking System is a backend system that processes daily banking transactions and posts updates to accounts and other financial records. Core banking systems typically include deposit, loan and credit processing capabilities, with interfaces to general ledger systems and reporting tools.
Should Banking Contact Center Agents Have Access To Core Banking System?
This is the most crucial question that different stakeholders like Customers Service, Operations, IT and Infrastructure teams ponder upon. Finding a clear-cut Yes or No as an answer is not the solution, rather the key lies in determining the various levels of access to the customer details depending upon the service agent’s role and need for data in the particular banking process in a contact center. This ensures they can only view what they are allowed and/or required as per the process. Let’s explore some scenarios to understand why it is needed for agents to access the customer information:
- New Cheque Book or Card Request – If a customer is calling a bank’s contact center to request a new cheque book or apply for a card, customer service agent needs to authenticate his details first to initiate the request. If an agent can see the required customer details on his system, he can verify the details while the customer is on call and place the request then and there.
- Card Blocking Request – In cases where customers reach out to a banking contact center for getting their cards blocked, there should be a mechanism for customer authentication via live agent or pre-authorization on IVR and follow up by a live agent to resolve issues in less time without going to back-office operations.
- Complaints For Non-Disbursement of Cash via ATM or Bill Payment Failure – When customer service agents get complaint calls for non-disbursement of cash through ATM or any payment failure, it is imperative that engagement information points like ATM visits, last transaction status, etc. are visible to agents as it is the only way to discover problems and engage with the customer to resolve their queries.
- Balance Enquiry & Account Related information Request – Customers also contact bank call centers to know their account balance or some other account related information. Therefore, customer service agents must have this information at their disposal to assist the customers with fast and relevant support. Read-only view to customer account details is a must to meet this customer support request.
- Relationship Management Service – In case of relationship management, managers even need to have historical information to track customer journey and identify customer purchase pattern for upselling or cross selling opportunities to increase the bank’s business development opportunities. This is much needed in a retail-banking scenario.
Customer service efficiency increases if the customer details are easily accessible to agents. In case the backend system’s data is not shown to the service agent in the real time, these request processing will take longer time because agent will first collect the customer information, send it to backend team for verification and then wait for a go-ahead. An ideal practice in such cases should be to provide read-only view of customer account details for verifying the details to process such requests.
How Can IT Teams Ensure Data Security to Avoid Financial Frauds?
IT teams in banking contact centers have their reservations when it comes to giving access of core banking system to contact center agents due to security reasons and highly sensitive nature of customer details, hence, it is tough to get their buy-in for this process. In banking industry, there are high chances of data misuse resulting in financial frauds. Thus, IT teams need to maintain high degree of monitoring to secure data.
Striking a balance between data monitoring and customer service satisfaction is needed because if a bank fails to resolve customer issues quickly then it’s retail business suffers. To achieve this balance, let’s have a quick look at few best practices that banks’ IT teams follow:
- Instead of directly linking the core banking system to the contact center software, CBS is linked to an intermediary application server which then in turn push or pull data at regular interval (usually on daily basis) to the contact center software to ensure quality monitoring before any changes are made at core banking system level.
- Since, CBS has multiple distinct modules for Account Types, Cards, Transactions, etc. high quality monitoring is maintained by only giving request based access to the specific module which is handled by the particular process agent.
- In addition process modules, access to data can be authorized according to user roles, rights and use cases. Automated mechanism for agent authorization and customer authentication before viewing any customer data can ensure high level of consistency and compliance.
- To avoid any kind of financial frauds, banks’ IT teams need to put in place an intelligent alert system on the customer accounts to indicate any suspicious activity on time.
- Banks need to transform their legacy technology architecture, and minimize the silos to enable more visibility into customers’ purchase patterns for better business opportunities.
In addition to this contact center agents should be aware of the required legal compliances related to data protection and follow the bank policies and procedures diligently to avoid any fraudulent scenarios.
Tools To Empower Customer Service Agents : Unified Agent Desktop
Agent Empowerment in Bank Contact centers has its advantages in terms of better customer service and disadvantages with respect to IT and security risks.
When customer data is stored in different backend systems customer service agents struggle to get a complete picture of customer’s relationship with the bank and might need multiple tools and applications to access customer information to solve customer queries. What lacks is a comprehensive snapshot of required information while talking to the customer to solve their issues in real time.
Banks need a contact center software that consolidates the necessary customer information in one single screen to enable customer service agents for delivering superior customer support. With a unified agent desktop, banking contact centers can display only context specific data on the agent’s screen. This ensures quality monitoring as only required data is accessible by the agents. Furthermore, access to data can be restricted by defining various criteria like user roles and rights.
Empowering agents with a unified desktop will ensure that they can view a customer’s entire buyer journey with the bank and their recent interactions or transactions with the bank across channels to offer more personalized service and identify further sales opportunities for the bank.
Banking contact centers are continually evolving and embracing modern technology to strike a balance between agent empowerment and data security. Do let us know how your contact center is implementing these processes in the comments section below.