Creating a bank customers love to use might sound simple. But after more than 40 years in banking, Warren Taylor, co-founder, executive vice president and director of customer service of BankMobile, knows better.
“Apps don’t create an emotional bond, people do,” Warren says. For the digital-only bank, which has a customer base of more than 2 million, that means the person answering the phone is critical.
Metrics matter, according to the self-described “bean counter,” who spent decades in finance before moving over to customer service. But, it’s not always the obvious ones. “We have scorecards, of course, and we look at average handle time or who is the best at driving high NPS, but we also focus on rewarding those who embody our culture.
“Everyone has the same job description in Customer Care at BankMobile and the Ubiquity call centers—that is to execute on our mission: “We will provide such ‘wow’ service that our customers will bank with us for life and refer us to someone they know. We do this while protecting the bank against undue risk or loss.”
Creating a culture of teamwork and accountability is the bedrock of BankMobile’s approach to customer experience. Agents are recognized for hitting key metrics as well as for being the best teammates.
“Our goal is for everybody to help each other get better every day; we’ve also created a team that really looks out for one another. Someone will pick you up if your car breaks down, drop off a goody bag when you’re sick, reach out when you’ve suffered a loss. It’s about creating a culture of serving one another that benefits our customers and agents.”
And while high NPS is the ultimate reflection of that mission, it’s another acronym that serves as the North Star to guide BankMobile agent performance: P.A.C.E.
“P: Promises kept – If we say we’re going to call a customer back on Tuesday, we better call them back on Tuesday.
A: As soon as possible. Resolve all calls the same day or at least in 24 hours, unless it’s a merchant or Reg. E. claim, which will always take longer.
C: Correct information – Always give accurate information. No team member is every penalized for not knowing an answer, but they are penalized if they make up an answer.
E: Empathy and respect. The E is really important. We have no branches, so we rely on our agents to develop relationships with our customers. Some of them call in over a $20 transaction, and it’s a big deal for them. It can mean the difference between feeding their kids for the night or not. Our agents need to understand that.
“Our quality teams are listening to make sure that empathy comes through. And if you follow PACE, chances are customers are going to be pretty happy.”
To say that BankMobile’s customers are happy is a bit of an understatement. The average NPS for a U.S. bank is 34. BankMobile’s is approaching 70. And it’s been consistent—and has even hit some all-time highs—in the midst of a pandemic and a shift for the Omaha team to remote work. At the end of the second quarter, it was 65.2. In August, the Omaha call center will exceed 70 NPS.
“You need passion at the executive level and passion from the people in the call centers,” Warren explains. “I’ve dealt with a lot of vendors in my career, and Ubiquity is the best. They ask me what I want to accomplish—culture, metrics, reporting, everything we need to be able to manage our business, hourly, daily, weekly—and they support that 100%.
“I’ve had other customer service providers say, ‘Here’s our box. We’ll fit your business into our box.’ That doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work for us. That’s why I’m so happy to be working with Ubiquity.”
Keeping customers happy demands passion and motivation, but it also requires analysis, says Warren.
Every time a BankMobile customer calls in, the bank looks at why they’re calling and the corresponding survey results for those types of calls. “If the NPS on that particular question or issue is high, we know the scripts are working and we probably don’t need to change anything. If it’s low, then we have to go in and say is it the rep that’s not following the script or is there something wrong with our process.”
When it’s an issue at the agent level, that’s quickly resolved with coaching or refresher training. When it’s a process, that requires risk analysis. Sometimes things can’t be changed. Holds on high-dollar check deposits, for example, are there to protect the bank from fraud. But other times, examining call drivers and customer sentiment or agent feedback can lead to changes that are beneficial for the customer and the bank. At one time, the bank and Ubiquity were inputting dispute data into two different systems, which was inefficient and extending servicing times. “The agents brought it up and the customer data supported it,” Warren says. “We heard it and got rid of one of the systems, which cut our costs and improved the customer experience.
“We have to challenge ourselves to say, ‘Is this really a good policy?’ and act accordingly.”
Tapping into Tech
It stands to reason that a digital bank, who provides their Banking-as-a-Service platform to colleges and universities and white-label partners (including a major telco), and is introducing digital bank accounts with Google, also is investing in technology.
In addition to an Oracle CRM platform and Ubiquity’s InTouch performance-management platform, the bank has rolled out Aigent, an artificial intelligence tool that listens to live calls, recommends the next best action and escalates calls in real-time when customers use certain trigger words. For BankMobile, those trigger words are related to stemming potential regulatory complaints.
Developed in Ubiquity’s Amsterdam Innovation Lab, Aigent doesn’t replace agents but helps them perform better. Since deploying the technology, BankMobile has broken their own records in first call resolution (91.85) and NPS (65.2) while detractors have dropped to an all-time low of 12.8%.
Banks could save a whopping $447 billion by 2023 by deploying AI, according to a research report from Business Insider Intelligence. But Warren stresses that saving money through AI does not mean eliminating jobs.
“People will always be needed and valued,” he says. “The job might change a little,” Warren notes, citing the potential for more sales- and product-oriented calls rather than straight customer support. “But, as a bank without branches, people will always be at the core.
“At the end of the day, when we think about CX, it’s not so much about making the call center better—although we do work on that—it’s really about removing the roadblocks that are causing the customer to call us in the first place. Despite having one of highest Net Promoter Scores in country, there’s still a lot more we can do to get even better.”
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