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The banking call centre isn’t dead.

A lot has been said about the changing landscape of customer support in the banking industry.

Major banks suggest that customers are searching for assistance using online and mobile channels, which justifies closing more and more branches.

So where does this leave the humble call centre? Will the digital revolution render it obsolete? I recently shared my thoughts on this in an article published on the Global Banking & Finance Review website by Ewen Fleming of Grant Thornton.

While the author quotes Grant Thornton’s own research which implies that less than 2% of customers today prefer call centres as their primary channel for servicing their banking needs, he also references another study which suggests that up to 45% of customers will abandon their online transactions, switching to call centres where their queries have not been addressed quickly enough.

This trend, combined with increasing complexity as a result of the Mortgage Market Review and the Retail Distribution Review, open up tremendous opportunities for the banking call centre. But first banks must recognise the need to create a culture that encourages and rewards customer engagement, which can ultimately lead to efficiencies and reduced call centre costs.

As I explained in the article there are some interesting opportunities – which don’t involve huge capital spending projects – for distribution and operations directors to optimise their telephony challenge.

The banking call centre has a potential to become an effective bridge between online and face-to-face channels. But this will only happen if contact centres develop an effective strategy to address customers’ frustrations. Those that don’t will seem increasingly irrelevant in an age where customer loyalty is rapidly becoming an out-of-date concept.