Customer Engagement Platforms for Better Customer Affinity

By Ananth Subramanian, SVP – IT, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management

As per the report published by a leading group, total spend of a call center operations stands at approx. USD 350 billion. Though these numbers portray a rosy picture for the call center industry, there are couple of challenges that the top management has to face on a day-to-day basis. At the end of the day, one needs to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the assistance provided, irrespective of the nature of the support. From a BFSI perspective this becomes even more critical as financial transactions are involved. A delay or ineffective handling of queries could affect the reputation of the organization leading to loss of business. Building an efficient customer management system hence becomes a huge challenge by itself. Some of the day-to-day challenges one faces are:

• Resources – the chief concern remains the attrition rates in call centers which remains over 20-30 percent due to lack of a roadmap in growth path that can be offered to the employees.

• Overcoming regional barriers and provide technical support to consumers from different regional backgrounds.

• Transactional data as well as investor profiles are extremely sensitive information and it is imperative to protect the same.

When a consumer approaches a contact centre, it technically means that they have tried all other options. Here, empathy is the key. However, these will work only if the consumer is comfortable with the channel of communication. In the present digital world, it hardly takes any time for consumers to air their grievances on social platforms. Having tools which scour social media sites for any negative publicity will help in taking corrective actions immediately. Organizations need to get consumer feedback from the various social media platforms. They need to be active on multiple platforms giving a sense of ‘always there for your needs’ feeling. Giving timely reminders on nearing expiry of a financial investment and getting permissions for renewals go a long way in servicing the investors and ensuring retention. Engaging consumers through humorous/witty campaigns that conform to the regulatory framework help in brand building.

Building Agile and Responsive Call Centers

With growing scale of operations, one needs to be agile to tackle the information flow from various directions. Bandwidth constraints or capacity breaches could choke processes. It is imperative that minimum ASA levels are maintained. Else this will lead to huge call failures resulting in a back log of unanswered calls. Technology is an enabler for business processes. The reach of internet enables a consumer get a wide a variety of choices at her fingertips. Today a customer would want to reach the company through all possible mechanisms. Although the phone call is still the most preferred way, one just cannot ignore the other available platforms. Growing internet and mobility usage has allowed multiple channels to be enabled—website, emails, mobile apps, and chats. Without technology integration among these platforms, answering consumer queries will be a challenge. Cloud services ensure that platforms become scalable. Data may still reside across multiple channels and processes, but technology ensures that these merge together to provide the consumer a seamless single-window experience. Today’s consumer can reach the organization through any of the channels. Omni-channel strategy for such services is the right framework to be adopted. It is necessary to ensure that, irrespective of the channel through which the call is routed, the correct context appears to the agent. Networking solutions should be well oiled to manage the inflows and at the same time transmit secure data.

AI Transforming the Customer Support Business

Consumer is always providing behavioral analytics in the form of data through various touch points. Artificial Intelligence can help form queries, which consumers can respond to. Fine tuning the queries is a continuous process. But these act as the initial touch point and provide valuable insight into what the consumer is looking for. The responses automatically act as a trigger point for the next workflow action. Chat bots can perform instant query handling, irrespective of whichever time zone or location that the consumer is calling from. Agents automatically become more productive and have a better approach towards the job when they know that certain mundane and FAQ type queries need not be answered by them. AI/ Bots can help answer basic queries on their own. The need for an agent comes only when there remains an unanswered query. AI helps in implementing self service platforms that bring down TAT’s considerably. AI would also help building a huge knowledge base of any consumer. Big Data platforms enable analyzing the consumer behavior with the help of the historic data scrounged from multiple platforms including social media. Growth of digital penetration will be allowing consumers to access solutions through any channel and will be providing amazing customer experience. Reaching consumers across geography and regional landscapes and communicating and understanding customers will be easier with NLP based knowledge management. Future solutions will be capable of understanding the consumers’ emotions on the other side. Speech and emotion analysis integration tools will be used to integrate.

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