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The use of telephone as a channel for customers to access banking and financial services spreaded during the "new economy" hype. The compulsory nature of a backup channel for Internet-based Online Trading services, required by Consob, the Italian securities and exchange commission, coupled with the need to guarantee a customer service for Home banking customers, contributed to at times hasty and incognizant take-off and extension of Call Centers in almost every bank.
The downgrading of growth projections and the use of the Internet channel, clearly revealed the weaknesses of Call Centers: they were oversized, expensive and inconsistent with strategic objectives. This caused many banks to scrutinize and challenge telephone channels in terms of objectives, organization and outstanding technology investments.
The desire to comprehend the service range, the operating processes and the systems making up banking Call Centers prompted ABI Lab to carry out a detailed analysis of these structures, that are often neglected in spite of their relevance in terms of volumes and organizational characteristics. The aim was to foster a greater knowledge dissemination across the whole industry, as well as to give some suggestions and recommendations to tackle the most critical issues.
Reply devised a methodology to approach the matter that would take into consideration the need to drill down on given specialized contents dealing with disparate topics, while covering the peculiarities of a study conducted on a variety of banks, based upon the values underlying the activities of ABI Lab.
The more closely examined topics were: users serviced by call centers and services provided, business volumes, activities and performance, internal processes (call management, back office, marketing campaigns, etc.), outsourcing, internal organization and sizing, management of operators, governance (type of control, cost structure, charges to customers, etc.), information systems and technologies used.
The analysis was based upon a detailed questionnaire followed by individual meetings (interviews and remarks), during which the respondents commented and clarified their answers. Following the processing of the results, each bank was visited again to provide the managers concerned with a professional feedback as to the strong/weak points and the areas of improvement identified, as well as to give the possibility to compare their data against the industry benchmark.
The process envisaged also joint sessions, during which participants could directly discuss hot topics, and a final workshop to present the project results to the entire banking industry. The success of the project rests on the deep and specialized know-how of Reply, that proved particularly crucial to analyze Call/Contact Centers in banking organizations, quite peculiar compared to other industries.
The fact that ABI Lab assigned the operational management of the project to Reply bears witness of its professional skills in the management of projects involving various banking operators, interfacing both technological and business counterparts, as well as of its steadfast integrity and care for ultimate customer value and satisfaction.