Financial Services Frustration in the Contact Center

April 24, 2017         By: Ted Jordan

When it comes to cash, you need to tread lightly. When your entire business is about money – the control, addition and collection of it – consideration is essential.

As an industry, financial services is naturally precarious. Financial advisers have to field difficult questions about where money is going and why. Debt collectors have to carefully probe for payments. Bankers have to facilitate the flow of money. Insurance companies have to clarify claims and dictate payouts.

It’s a diverse field of potential customer landmines.

If you want to succeed in financial services, maintain a good rapport with customers and increase your business scope, you need the right technology. First and foremost, you must make sure that you’ve equipped your employees to handle the volatility of finance.

… And that starts at the contact center.

The money business is a first impression business—and so is your contact center. It requires precision, foresight and the tactile grace of a bomb diffuser. Your contact center is the heart of your customer experience.

It doesn’t matter if your business is in collections, insurance or banking, your customers have consistent expectations that hold through the life of their journey.

From initial engagement to their final transaction, customers expect:

  • Accessibility
  • Security
  • Understanding

When you’ve assured customers that their information is available and secure, and that agents handling their accounts are completely informed, they are much more comfortable engaging with your business. If your company forces obstacles along the customer journey, or if you fail to meet any of these expectations, customers quickly become frustrated.

Access Denied

Have you ever tried to access your bank account and were subsequently locked out, couldn’t find the information you needed and/or were placed on an indefinite hold? It’s a frustrating experience most of us can relate to. It’s an experience that causes unnecessary stress and sometimes embarrassment (e.g. being denied funds because of security).

Customers view access to their funds as the MOST crucial component of their account. Investors want to know they can withdraw money reasonably. Insurance customers want prompt access to payouts. Even those of us in debt want to be able to access our deficit and make payments when able.

When ease of access becomes an issue, customer frustration mounts. Phone systems that request your account information to authenticate and then fail to pass along to the receiving agent are a recipe for frustrated customers. Solutions for your business must start with solutions built on systems that support your customer (not the other way around).

Financial services require clean and straightforward contact center solutions to maintain 24/7 access and support to customers. Fundamentally, these contact centers should be able to, at the very least, recognize callers and route them to available agents without much effort. However, in today’s omnichannel world, most customers expect to access agents and/or their financial information via a combination of phone, email, webchat, etc.

Today, omnichannel is mandatory for a competitive financial services business.

According to Aberdeen’s CEM Executive’s Agenda 2016: Aligning the Business Around the Customer, “58 percent of businesses use at least eight channels to interact with customers.”

Spilled Secrets

Most people aren’t keen on sharing their financial information with just anyone. Consequently, customers rely on financial services to maintain top-tier security when handling accounts. This means that both inbound and outbound contact centers must be able to quickly and securely recognize customers without compromising data.

Contact centers need the most up-to-date security systems to mitigate risks. However, they must do so without compromising the customer experience. To do this, contact centers must deploy a hybrid of tools that partially recognize callers and subsequently validates with minimal customer effort.

It’s a challenging balance that requires intelligent routing structures and well-architected customer journeys.


When financial customers come to you with questions, they expect you to provide informed answers. They view their money – their livelihood – as entrusted to your business. Each agent responding to a customer inquiry represents an extension of your business. If they appear uninformed, it’s easy for customers to feel uncertain.

In Aberdeen’s Customer Centricity: Knowledge is Power in the Age of the Customers study, data showed that on average, employees spend 15 percent of their time seeking relevant data needed to do their jobs.

A customer shouldn’t have to wait long for your agent to pull their records. In the modern contact center, agents should be able to use a phone number, email, pin, etc., to identify customers quickly.

Money often shortens the impatience people have when dealing with contact centers. A customer wants the agent to know who they are, what past interactions they’ve had with the business and all other high-priority financial information.

Keeping customers happy

To maintain an accessible, secure and informed contact center, you need up-to-date technology. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software should work with your contact center technology to help you recognize customers and address their concerns. Your information should be secure, and customer effort should be minimal. If you create unnecessary hassle, your customers will walk.

 Ted Jordan is VP of Customer Service at Five9, focused on the delivery of best in class customer service experience to all of Five9’s customers. His team’s mission is to drive continuous improvement of Five’s global customer service strategy.