Call Centers: A Security Blanket for Consumer Banking?

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, banks and credit unions have had to quickly pivot frontline operations to ensure the safety of both employees and customers. Major operational efforts include limiting branch hours and access, allowing essential banking services to continue via drive-through windows or with fewer customers allowed inside the branch at a time, and moving more complex transactions to other channels such as call centers and online/mobile banking.

Call centers, in particular, have become a front-line resource for customers needing to talk to an actual human to resolve any banking issue as well as a tool for financial institutions to provide customers nuanced support with a human touch. According to Rockbridge’s most recent wave of the National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS) conducted in March 2020, just 8% of consumer banking was conducted via telephone over the past 12 months.  However, a call center where customers can talk to a live person is desirable/critical to nearly nine in ten consumers (88%) in their decision to use a financial institution.

Banking Transaction

This finding is similar to that of our 2016 NTRS study, when only 6% of transactions were conducted via call center and more than eight in ten (84%) believed it was critical or desirable to have a call center in their decision to use a financial institution. This suggests that call centers also serve as a security blanket for customers—a source of comfort and reassurance knowing it is there, even if it is not often used.

Note: ▲indicates 2020 figure significantly higher than 2016 figure at 95% confidence level

Given the importance of call centers, banks and credit unions need to ensure a positive experience for customers. Making customers feel valued and listened to, as well as providing consistent information and resolving issues on the first contact are themes that come up regularly in call center experience studies conducted by Rockbridge for financial institutions. Nailing these aspects of the call center experience can increase both short-term satisfaction and long-term loyalty. A key to delivering a positive experience is an effective CX measurement program that allows banks and credit unions to understand both their performance in the eyes of the customer as well as customer expectations. Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert researchers on how to build an effective CX measurement program for your call center as well as all other channels today.

About the Study: The National Technology Readiness Survey is conducted by Rockbridge Associates, Inc. and A. Parasuraman, and has tracked technology and e-commerce trends since 1999. The survey is co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The most recent wave was conducted in March 2020 and is based on an online survey of 1216 U.S. adults sampled at random from a consumer research panel. A total of 561 consumers who have a relationship with a financial institution were asked about their banking behaviors and attitudes.  Results are weighted to match census characteristics.  The margin of error on the findings reported here among consumers with a financial institution relationship is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Learn more about Rockbridge’s Financial Services practice.

Written by: Hilary Ross-Rojas, Research Director