As technology continues to develop, banks are faced with tough decisions about what to try and which digital software to leave behind, particularly when it comes to customer-facing support.

The use of chatbots has risen dramatically in recent years, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and can have a positive impact on both the client experience and in building deeper customer relationships. In the financial industry alone, the use of chatbots tripled in 2020 and is expected to rise another 16% this year. We’re here to run you through some of the benefits of a customer service chatbot and how you can implement one into your business model.

Reality Check: Call Center Staffing

For larger banks, building banking & financial call center services into your operations is often the best solution for handling customer questions and issues. Staffing a center is always a challenge, but plenty of online resources help businesses to calculate their needs (the Erlang Calculator is one of the most popular). But for smaller operations, like community banks or credit unions, this option is often unrealistic.

Smaller banks typically set budgets annually, meaning that there’s less wiggle-room for bringing on additional staff for a bank call center throughout the year. Staffing any size call center for a small community bank often leads the center managers to set strict call handling time (CHT) limits, which may not provide enough time for representatives to answer customer questions.

This can end up turning into a no-win situation–the customer is either unhappy with the resolution due to a short call handling time, or the client’s issue is resolved by the call running significantly over its allotted minutes. That then leads to the possibility of increased wait times to speak to someone in the call center, either due to lack of staffing or overrunning calls.

Customers may be placed on hold for lengthy periods until someone is available to help them, which does little to help the overall customer experience. With an estimated 826 million hours being saved thanks to chatbot interactions by 2023, it’s certainly worth considering alternative options.

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Not All Questions Are The Same

When it comes to addressing customer needs via a call center, it’s important to remember that not all questions will require the same level of expertise. A bank-level question should be simple to answer. For example, “what’s the routing number for my account?” or “what is the phone number for your branch in [specific location]?” You can even take care of more serious issues like a customer losing their debit card and helping them to order a replacement.

But account-level questions can be more time-consuming and eat into a call center’s CHT goal. Clients who are interested in opening new accounts or have specific questions related to their account activity may take longer to help, making it more difficult to support customer needs if several calls come in at one time.

Create A Better Customer Service Experience

While there are pros to a call center system, a dedicated bank customer service chat feature can help to speed up response times and support customers around the clock, even when staff may not be online. In an on-demand world, customers want information at their fingertips to better manage their financial lives, whether it’s 10 a.m. on a Monday or 10 p.m. on a Sunday.

Although over 86% of community bank customers prefer to speak with a human, 30% also note that they’re happy to have a chatbot answer quick questions for them. That means, potentially, up to 30% fewer inbound calls because customers were able to get an answer with a chatbot. The benefits of customer service chatbots can’t be ignored, and it’s entirely possible to create a hybrid system that works for all of your customers. It’s about meeting them where they feel most comfortable and where you can provide an exceptional level of customer service at all times.

Customer service chatbots allow financial institutions, big or small, to maintain an “always-on” level of service, without the need to pay overtime for evening shifts or hire new employees specifically for overnight coverage. Research suggests that, by 2023, 79% of chatbot interactions will be through mobile banking apps, an always-accessible hub for customers to access their information. When clients need support during non-traditional hours, whether they’re checking their account details before bed or traveling within a different time zone, chatbots can provide help quickly and easily.

As chatbot technology progresses, thanks to advances in AI and machine learning, it’s important for banks to stay on top of new developments and software options. Soon, your institution’s chatbot could be programmed to help customers schedule in-person appointments, integrating seamlessly into your internal calendar system or CRM (customer relationship manager). This would be in addition to providing bank-level information and serving as a complement to your human call center staff. Exploring a hybrid service model could improve the customer service experience.

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Fill The Sales Funnel

When chatbots are enabled, clients can self-select this option to have their questions answered. This could significantly reduce call traffic into your institution’s call center. As a result, more of the calls being handled by your center team can be more thorough and, possibly, lead to cross-selling or lead generation opportunities. It’s as much a marketing win as it is a customer service success.

Deciding to move forward with a chatbot can be an important step in developing your bank’s customer experience strategy. At PrintMail Solutions, we’ve helped more than 300 financial services companies as an outsourced partner for both client statement delivery and digital marketingRequest an appointment today to discuss your needs and any questions you might have.