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Australian Banking and Financial Institutions Need a Seismic Shift in Culture

In light of recent news from the royal commission exposing misconduct by Australian banking and financial institutions, businesses in the financial sector should consider taking a look at their internal sales practices and potentially recalibrating their corporate culture.

Institutions that have drawn criticism from the royal commission for being motivated by greed must refocus their energy on treating customers fairly and balancing customer needs with those of the business. This transformation may require a radical change in strategy from one that is primarily revenue and profit-driven, to one that is customer-centric and focuses first on achieving an extraordinary customer experience. In the end, banking and financial institutions that can turn the tide will also improve their revenue performance.

Gamification, which applies game mechanics to engage employees by tracking and rewarding desired behaviours, has made recent gains in popularity in the global financial industry due to its effectiveness in improving engagement, customer experience, and customer loyalty. It just might be the enabling technology solution the Australian banking and financial sector needs to accelerate its adoption and deployment of a new customer-centric business model.

Identifying Customer-Centric Behaviours to Reward
Making the strategic decision to become a customer-centric organization is huge – one that affects every area of the business and involves every employee. But, since call centre agents are oftentimes one of the main customer-facing contacts of banking and financial institutions, this post focuses on them. It is essential to the success of a customer-centric strategy that all call centre agents and managers understand what is expected of them, that they are totally on board with the program and that they are appropriately rewarded for the desired behaviours. It is also apropos that the rewards themselves, befit the achievement, and considering the current climate, are non-monetary.

From the top-down, the agent behaviours that constitute a remarkable customer experience must be clearly defined along with the key performance indicators for achieving them.

Here is a list of some of these KPIs.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
CSAT is usually measured by asking a customer to rate their overall experience with a product or service in a customer feedback survey. Respondents are asked to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being very unsatisfied and 5 being very satisfied. You arrive at the CSAT score by averaging all the scores received and it is expressed as a percentage (# of satisfied customers/# of survey responses = % satisfied customers). Only scores of 4 and 5 should be counted as satisfied.

Something remarkable happens when agents have some skin in the game in improving customer satisfaction. The entire culture of the company can change when everyone is focused and rewarded on satisfying the customer rather than just on the basis of hitting a sales number.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The NPS refers to the results achieved when you ask customers if they would recommend you. It is a widely used metric of customer satisfaction and captures sentiment about a service or product. A 0-6 rating categorises customers as “detractors.” A rating of 7 or 8 categorises customers as “passives and a rating of 9 or 10 categorises them as “promoters.” Simply take the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors to arrive at your NPS. A study by the global consulting firm, Bain & Company, indicates that businesses with a high NPS grow 2X faster than competitors in their industry.

Customer Effort Score
This score measures how satisfied a customer is with the amount of effort it took on their part to solve their problem quickly. It adds another dimension to what is needed to create a loyal customer. At the completion of a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, only 9% of customers that reported they expended a low effort were likely to become disloyal, whereas 96% of those that reported that a high effort was required were likely to become disloyal.

Here is a typical CES question you might ask.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
X Bank made it easy for me to handle my issue/request.

Agree-Disagree Diagram

Strongly consider also asking customers why they rated you the way that they did. Their answers will identify the specific areas you can improve. Were wait times too long? Did they have to repeat their information too many times? Were they transferred several times? Did they have to call back or was the call dropped? Was the agent rude? Armed with this information you can coach individual agents or identify pervasive agent, product/service or technology issues that need to be addressed.

Soft-Skill KPIs
There are also soft-skill KPIs that can dramatically improve the customer experience and be tracked and rewarded through gamification. Improving these skills can positively affect NPS. Here is a partial list of agent attributes customers can be asked to rate in a post-interaction survey.

  • Agent gave correct information
  • Agent was polite and courteous
  • Query was promptly resolved
  • Communication was clearly presented
  • Agent followed up as promised
  • Agent was friendly
  • Agent was knowledgeable

Here are some additional desired behaviours that can be tracked through an analytics platform and fed directly into the gamification system to reward agents.

  • Adhered to compliance regulations
  • Demonstrated active listening
  • Recommended right-fit products/services
  • Displayed empathy
  • Secured customer feedback

Other KPIs use support data for measuring customer satisfaction. This data can be fed into the gamification system to track improvements and reward agents. They include: Support Ticket Volume, Number of Interactions to Solve an Issue, Average First Response Time, Average Resolution Time.

Choosing Appropriate Rewards
Shifting from a primarily profit-driven to a customer-centric firm requires engaging every employee in the organisation. The call centre agent population, likely being the largest group and certainly the group with the highest customer-touch, has the power to produce the greatest result. That is why it is so critical when designing your rewards program that you take the time to properly identify not only what KPIs to reward, but also the types of rewards that will reinforce customer-centric behaviours and the actual rewards you are going to give. With the current scrutiny of Australian banking and financial firms, it may be best to stay away from monetary rewards. The good news is that in a recent Gallup survey respondents ranked financial returns toward the bottom of the list of desired incentives.

Near the top of the list is recognition from senior executives for great performance. Whether it’s a personal visit from the CEO, an email or a call, a simple thank you or a firm handshake, acknowledging a job well done goes a long way.

Here is a list of non-monetary awards that some of our customers are leveraging. We are sure you will have others. Whatever you choose, you will want them to align with your brand and fit the achievement. Consult your agents. Be creative. And have fun!

  • Receive recognition from your supervisor, VP of the department and CEO (personal recognition as well as at department and companywide meetings are best)
  • Leave one or two hours early on Friday
  • Premium parking space
  • Lunch with the Manager
  • Dinner with the CEO
  • Pizza Party for you and five co-workers
  • Extra 15-minute break
  • Weekends off for one month
  • Preferred schedule choice
  • Prime cubicle location
  • Upgraded work headset
  • Upgraded desk chair
  • Additional PTO – full-day or half-day
  • Two-hour lunch (or double normal lunch time)
  • Paid for one lunch hour while taking it
  • Be supervisor for a day, half-day, hour
  • You run the team while your supervisor gets on the phone and does your job for an hour
  • Catered lunch for team from restaurant of their choice

The Payoff for Shifting to a Customer-Centric Culture
Putting the customer at the centre of your decisions and policies – from the products and services you offer to the values you expect from every employee every day – is not only the right thing to do, but it can also really pay off for your business. According to Forrester, customer-centric companies garner a higher valuation than their competitors. Also, by doing a better job of treating customers fairly and providing an extraordinary experience, customer-centric businesses are boosting the probability of selling to existing customers, which keeps costs down and profits up.

Changing the corporate culture is a long-term commitment to sustaining continuous improvement to the customer experience. Accomplishing this requires a highly engaged and happy call centre agent workforce. Gamification can help you get there and stay there.

To learn more about leveraging gamification to refocus your business around your customers, contact us for a free business assessment.