How to balance customer convenience and security in financial services

Co-Authored by Jeff Clapper - VP Sales North America

“Customers don't benchmark us against banks, they benchmark us against Uber and Amazon.”  - Hari Gopalkrishnan, client-facing technology CIO, Bank of America

Customer journeys in financial services have come a long way since the biggest “option” was visiting an ATM. Consider a task that starts with the question, “Alexa, ask Capital One what’s my payoff quote?” The customer might then open her laptop to transfer that amount from savings to checking – but perhaps not before calling the contact center to confirm that the transactions won’t cause her accounts to fall below their minimum balances.

Speed, ease and omnichannel convenience have become non-negotiable customer expectations. Thanks to a proliferation of apps, APIs, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies to enhance the customer experience (CX) once-rigid financial institutions have been transformed into more-open and -accessible platforms. However, as channels, endpoints, ecosystems and partners have multiplied, keeping customer data secure has become more challenging. Here’s a look at the problem in hard numbers:

  • A study by Bitglass noted that between January and August of 2018, financial services firms experienced nearly three times as many data breaches than they did during the same time frame in 2016.
  • According to Verizon, , the financial services industry accounts for 35% of all breaches.
  • Lexis-Nexis reports that for every dollar of fraud committed, financial services companies incur $2.92 in costs - up from $2.67in 2017, representing a 9.3% year-over-year increase.

You’re probably familiar with at least some of the damages that fraud wreaks on your business. On top of the lost value of any fraudulent transactions, there are investigation costs, fees and fines - and of course, the potential for lost customer trust.

Call center vulnerabilities

Another area where customer data can be vulnerable – albeit, more incrementally – is in the contact center. While there isn’t a large body of recent data specific to call center fraud in financial services, we know that year-over-year incidents were up by 113% in 2016. Paradoxically, the rise of security features such as EMV (chip) technology, which stores and protects cardholder data, has diverted some criminals to this channel.

Even trustworthy contact center agents are sometimes tricked into sharing sensitive customer data with fraudsters – from addresses and account numbers to the answers to security questions. And then there is also the less-common, but still real threat of rogue or dissatisfied agents appropriating customer information.

Mitigating Risk

Regardless of whether your role is focused on operations, service delivery or strategy, your organization’s ultimate goal is to provide an excellent customer experience. This requires a balance between customer convenience and security. In addition to increasing network data controls,here are some ways organizations are working toward both objectives:

Advanced analytics: This might involve drawing on alternate data sources such as social media accounts, phone usage data, and purchasing history, or using information about a customer’s location and device type to help validate whether a transaction is legitimate.

Tokenizing data: Systems that substitute personally identifying information with “tokens” that don’t have any exploitable meaning or data thwarts the hijacking and misuse of customer data.

Focusing on the human element: From strong background checks for new hires to providing thorough training in policies and procedures and following up with regular audits to ensure compliance and identify any gaps that might need to be addressed.

Strategies for balancing customer convenience and data security in today’s dynamic and connected

environment will continue to evolve. This will require more holistic thinking and innovative approaches. VXI is a partner that’s committed to helping your organization achieve these objectives.



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How trust translates into dividends for your business

This quote from the Harvard Business Review resonates with me:

“When trust goes down (in a relationship, on a team, in an organization, or with a partner or customer), speed goes down and cost goes up.”

The good news, as the article notes, is that with increased trust, costs decrease while speed increases - resulting in what the author, Stephen Covey, calls a “high-trust dividend.” Indeed, high-trust companies “are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations” than low-trust companies, according to at least one study.

Now, where does a fair share of the burden for delivering on these dividends reside? Let’s take a look at your contact center…

The lynchpin to customer trust: Contact center agents

Globally, customers still overwhelmingly prefer phone as a contact channel over all other options. Live chat was ranked third in the survey results below.

(Source: Microsoft 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report)

Whether an individual is calling to book a weekend vacation or inquiring via chat about a password reset, they expect to communicate with a competent, pleasant and empathetic agent. An agent to trust.

Agents can only earn customer trust if they have the tools to succeed in the role and if they feel they are empowered to make the right decisions. Which brings us to an important piece in this puzzle: Organizations also need to earn their employees’ trust.

The tools to succeed

Regardless of your industry or business, this statement by Steve Jobs will always hold true:

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

At VXI, we’re in the business of building profitable customer relationships for our clients. But we also build technology tools and platforms designed with a laser focus on both the customer and agent experiences.

The tools are based on three “trust” points for our agents: transparency, consistency, and recognition. Our agents trust that the technology we provide will help them perform better and provide consistent tracking of their progress for coaching needs and rewards and recognition. The results are confident agents who have trust in themselves to handle most any situation so that they may begin the process of yielding that high trust dividend.


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Contact Eppie

Are you ready to increase your contact rates by ten percentage points?

It’s 6 o’clock on a Thursday evening. Do you know where your best outbound sales prospects are?

Here’s the key challenge: Your telemarketing conversion rates are only as good as your contact rates. The industry standard for connecting with potential buyers is approximately nine percent. Now, how much of a boost would your bottom line get if you could move the needle to engage with up to nineteen percent of your prospect list?

VXI regularly achieves this goal for its clients, resulting in increased sales, stellar agent morale and the ability to learn more about customers.

In North America, most outbound sales providers’ dialing strategies are based on four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. The problem here is that this approach doesn’t allow for differences in contact rates and demographics within each of the individual U.S. states.

VXI employs a unique, layered approach to connect with your potential customers – so your business achieves the maximum return on investment (ROI).

A superior dialing strategy is just one of the many reasons that VXI is known for consistently exceeding clients’ revenue expectations. Here’s what you can also expect from us (as you should from any provider):

A partner that knows – and cares about - your business

In industries ranging from industrial and automotive to travel and hospitality, we have deep experience and practical expertise. But we’re also deeply invested in getting to know your own business and audience.

When we consult with you, we’ll work to ensure that your lead files contain the information needed to facilitate selling success. Take the cable industry, for example. General household age and current and previous billing ZIP codes are important - but we also know the relevance that data such as previous pay-per-view history, geographic region and previously redeemed offers can have on the propensity to order certain packages or respond to upsell offers.

Knowing who you’re calling and the “sweet spot” for making offers does wonders for creating alignment and connections with customers.

An “overdeliver” mindset

Globally, we’ve come to expect that telecom disruptions could happen at any time – whether it’s a natural disaster like Hurricanes Michael and Florence, or a simple power outage where a contact center is located.

We at VXI plan for the unexpected. We’ll have an action plan to move to an alternative site that might not be impacted, so you don’t have to worry about missing your monthly revenue target due to disruptions. We also train our agents to be prepared for the unexpected. But our overriding strategy is to always, consistently overdeliver on leads – so you have a little wiggle room and are able to maintain.

Agility amid ever-changing regulations

In the highly regulated telecommunications industry, laws regarding when and how agents can call customers constantly change.

Predictive (where numbers are automatically dialed from a list of telephone numbers) versus preview (where agents can decide whether to proceed with the next call on a list) versus manual (which is what it sounds like) dialing strategies are primarily predicated by legislation in the calling area. Your partner needs to be flexible enough to adapt to new legislation in a manner that still produces results for your business.

VXI’s dialing strategy, collaborative mindset and flexible approach have proven to be a recipe for telesales success. We invite you to learn more.

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Contact Robert

The iceberg that’s killing so many customer conversion rates

An HBR study concluded that customers with whom you strike an emotional connection create double the lifetime value for a brand. So what would raising your net promoter score (NPS) by 30 basis points mean to your business?

The price of conversion – especially as it comes to right-shoring – determining your ideal combination of nearshore/offshore/onshore capabilities, frequently comes up in client conversations.

Inevitably, the focus is on the sales number for the month and the price paid to achieve it. But, just like an iceberg, it’s not what’s above the surface that is the most important.

Instead of focusing on what’s visible, you need to get under the waterline to truly drive value.

The thing about Icebergs

The eye is always drawn to what sits above the surface – and in this case, it’s the amount you are paying, how many customers are converting, and how they combine to achieve your results for that month:

In this world it’s pretty simple – the numbers that matter are those that contribute to your result for the month (or the quarter – or year – depending on your horizon). In this context, it’s entirely normal to ask yourself:

“If I can pay X for a 30% conversion rate in one location, why would I want to pay 2X for the same conversion rate in the elsewhere?”

To which the answer is quite simple – you wouldn’t.

But would you pay 1.5 X for a 50% conversion rate?

Or more importantly – what value do you place on avoiding the opportunity cost that comes from missing the chance to build a lasting relationship or close a sale in this increasingly competitive environment?

Instead of focusing solely on the above-the-line metrics, you need to give time and attention to the value drivers that deliver you the lowest OVERALL COST, and the BEST POSSIBLE outcome.

Which means going below the waterline to find what is really driving value for your customers – and for you. In that world, the picture looks more like this:

Why should you care?

Broadly speaking, two factors sit below the water line which fundamentally alters the trajectory of your top-line metrics:

Hidden Cost and Quality of Experience

Hidden Cost is driven by aspects like agent turnover, poor training, and poor processes and the detrimental impact that this has on the customer experience you deliver.

But fundamentally, it is the opportunity cost of not building a relationship with a customer – and letting someone else do so.

Quality of Experience is driven by emotionally engaged agents, who can connect with your customers – proven to drive repeat business and higher lifetime value.

Think about that HBR study - what if we raised your NPS 30 basis points? Not only would your conversion rate go up, so would the amount of repeat business, customer loyalty, and revenue generated over the years.

Within your industry, think about the compounded customer goodwill and recommendations you could garner with just your vendors & partners alone.

So the next time you find yourself in a conversation about price, make sure you are really thinking about cost – and the hidden value drivers beneath the surface. That’s where you’ll find the right outcome.

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Contact Annette

Will coopetition be your next big CX move?

We’d all like to know what tomorrow’s customer experience (CX) might look like. Consider this ever-relevant quote by Bill Gates:

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

As the world watches to see what nontraditional providers are poised to do next to disrupt the industry, big tech companies like Google and Amazon have been just (surprisingly) quietly poised to take their own bites out of the market.

What we’re also seeing is an intriguing blurring of the lines between competition and collaboration. It’s not new - in earlier days, this was known as coopetition.

Partnering to meet customer expectations

In one of the largest municipalities in the U.S., the rental-car service Avis has two partnerships with Waymo, Google’s autonomous-driving sibling. The relationship started with Avis servicing Waymo’s vehicles and now extends to Waymo’s self-driving vehicles transporting customers to and from Avis rental locations.

The upside in partnering with a digitally native company, says Avis Chief Innovation Officer Arthur Orduña, is hearing from customers, “Wow, I want to do that again and tell other people. Make it all digital, really mobile, reflect what people are expecting already."

The ‘why’ is now

Many organizations are partnering to leverage big tech’s digital expertise. Others are playing the waiting game, to avoid collaborating with what might become their most deadly competitor.

The other option is partnering with VXI, a trusted CX and contact center solutions provider for the world’s leading brands. We have the DNA of a startup, the strategic thinking of a consulting partner, and the analytical skills of a big data company. We’re passionate about collaborating with you on the strategic and operational initiatives that will drive positive outcomes for your business.

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Contact Mark

Why you can’t afford to ignore this customer-value rule

Sales leader are well versed in how to calculate the lifetime value of a customer and how enormous this number can be. 

A notable example is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which calculated that the lifetime value of a customer was so high that they should be doing everything in their power to please each one of their customers. To the point of empowering every single full-time employee to spend up to $2,000 to solve, on the spot, any customer complaint, challenge, or problem. 

But here’s the challenge today: In a world of ubiquitous connectivity, where everyone has a voice that can reverberate as far as their community and their social network will carry it, you can’t simply focus on customer lifetime value. We need to be focusing on lifetime network value. 

Never before have customers enjoyed such powerful platforms to share and broadcast their opinions. 

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.” – Jeff Bezos.

This is true today for every generation. Gen Xers, Boomers, and even some Silent Generation customers share on Facebook and post reviews on TripAdvisor and Amazon. And of course, there are the Millennials who, thanks to their lifetime of technology use and their growing buying power, are particularly active – socially sharing and promoting their brand preferences. 

A good (or bad) experience transcends the customer and even their immediate circle of friends or family. The ability for them to influence the buying decisions of your future customers has increased 100-fold. In truth, most of those who read a tweet or post on a good or bad experience may not even know the person posting it!! 

Given this, there is an understandable concern in the hospitality industry about brand fickleness. 

The ability of customers to switch providers with a couple of thumb movements has created a highly competitive landscape. 

But it’s not all unwelcome news. Network effect cuts both ways – a great experience has just as much ability to be magnified as a poor one.  Those that get and understand what is required to win the acquisition and retention battle will be able to drive long-term value and profit. 

So, the next time you’re thinking about what a 1% increase in sales would mean, take your current lifetime customer value calculation and multiply it by a factor of 100. This more accurately represents the value to your organization of not only satisfying but delighting your customer. 

This perspective is key. After all, we have yet to meet a sales leader who has been rewarded for a lower cost of sale - but we have seen plenty come under the spotlight for not delivering a higher customer conversion rate. 

How to beat 50% of your competitors in the customer loyalty arena

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Contact Annette