As the current pandemic has continued to reduce branch office traffic and consumers embrace new digital channels, the importance of the traditional voice channel has gained additional weight. For consumers who cannot or do not want to visit a branch, phone calls have become the most personal way to interact with the financial institution (FI) and the preferred way to discuss some of the most popular products and services. more sensitive and profitable FIs, such as as business credit, mortgages and wealth management.
In the first year of the pandemic, 96% of financial services workers reported that their outgoing call activity had increased, underscoring customers’ preference for voice calling. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also coincided with escalated and more sophisticated phone scams. FI clients have long been a popular target as the value of FI transactions is significantly higher than most other industries and scammers follow the money. Consumers received an average of 144 spam calls in 2020, with 58% of those calls actually being fraudulent calls. These consumers are fed up. Today, 94% of unidentified calls go unanswered, according to data from Hiya, a voice identity, security and analytics provider that helps businesses reach their customers.
For years, the financial services industry has devoted enormous resources to “Know Your Customer” (KYC) initiatives so that institutions can be confident that the person they are interacting with is truly their customer. One of their biggest challenges today is convincing customers that it is really the bank that is trying to contact them, but overcoming this challenge has significant rewards. For example, Hiya’s Branded Call helped a Fortune 200 financial services company to gradually outperform unbranded calls by 5%. This 5% growth generated nearly $ 120 million in new revenue through the acquisition of 15,000 new customers, all directly attributed to Hiya’s services.
The dangers of ignoring caller ID
Someday the pandemic will recede, of course, and clients will begin to resume some of their pre-pandemic routines. But the reduction of bank branches, from nearly 100,000 in 2009 to around 80,000 at the end of 2020, will continue. And, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s annual mobile banking survey, many consumers won’t miss them: 64% of consumers who said they visited branches less during the pandemic said they were expected to use them less after the pandemic. As branches decline, the importance of the voice channel will increase, especially given its natural connection to video banking.
It is therefore essential that FIs actively manage caller ID to ensure customers are receiving a legitimate call, especially as more and more employees continue to work from home. Yet FIs often take a very laissez-faire approach to caller ID technology. Banks and pension plan sponsors continue to use outdated technology platforms that have been in place for years that do not identify the institution, and even worse, due to mergers and acquisitions, display identities unintentional brands. To make matters worse, some FIs have experimented with tactics that sow distrust and damage the brand. A prime example is the use of local telephone exchanges to trick customers into thinking this is a neighbor calling and not spam, but that tactic backfired. Not only does this annoy consumers, scammers quickly embraced the tactic.
It’s ironic that while FIs often spend hundreds of millions of dollars asserting brand fairness – and are hyper vigilant about everything they do with their brand – their outgoing phone calls are routinely unidentified, mislabeled with old / defunct marks, or even misspelled. Given the challenges, FIs must be more proactive in managing the voice channel.
Unanswered calls hurt FIs and customers
The negative consequences when legitimate calls go unanswered are significant for FIs and customers. For FIs, these include higher customer acquisition costs, slow lead conversion, lost business, and delayed response times. These obviously hurt the productivity and morale of employees who must constantly prove their legitimacy to customers before jumping into the business at hand. But these consequences also harm the customer experience and can weigh particularly heavily on the institution’s links with small businesses, which studies show place an emphasis on relationship banking.
“When consumers don’t answer a legitimate call, it really is a losing situation for consumers and financial institutions,” says Stephen Shepherd, manager of the financial services sector at Hiya. “Customers are frustrated when they miss important calls, so it is essential that financial institutions take steps to restore confidence in the voice call and provide their customers with a better experience. “
One way to restore confidence and increase call response rates is to better tag outgoing calls. Indeed, more and more FIs are considering solutions such as Hiya’s Branded Call, which provides the identity, security and analytics necessary for businesses to unlock the value of the voice channel. For example, Hiya started working with a leading mortgage lender who did not mark their calls and suffered from steadily deteriorating response rates as clients increasingly ignored the lender’s calls. But after implementing Hiya’s brand appeal, the lender increased their response rate by 24% and reached 52% more customers than before.
Four ideas about the voice channel
Considering the importance of the voice channel and the acute challenges FIs face in making it work effectively, Hiya recently released the Call status report. The report presents data from the 150 billion calls handled by Hiya in 2020 as well as the main findings of a recent survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Hiya. The aim of the report is to provide a better understanding of the state of the voice channel in the financial services industry and how to provide consumers with the best possible voice experience as part of an omnichannel customer journey. There were four key ideas.
1. The use of voice has increased. Consumers prefer to communicate via the voice channel in all industries, and the sentiment is no different in the financial services industry, surpassing email, instant messaging and texting. Consumers prefer the added reassurance that a voice provides when it comes to discussing personal and confidential financial matters. As noted, 96% of financial services workers say their calling activity increased in 2020.
2. Consumer confidence in voice is fragile. FIs use the voice channel to deliver many high-value products and services, from personal banking and loans to mortgages and business credit, which unfortunately also makes the channel very attractive to scammers. In fact, the increase in spam, fraudulent calls and / or identity theft weakens consumer confidence in the voice channel. Sixty-two percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say they’ve received a call from an impersonator spoofing a legitimate business at least once in the past year, and nearly 40 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say the impersonator claimed to operate in the financial services industry. . “As scammers and spam rates continue to make consumers think about whether to answer a phone call, financial services companies should seriously inspect the damage to their brands and the frustration of their advisors and associates in the process. contact with customers. Brand calls can solve these problems and optimize the voice channel, ”Shepherd said.
3. Critical KPIs are at risk. Consumers are inundated with text messages, calls and notifications on their phones every day, making it difficult for businesses to grab their attention. The existence of fraudulent calls in this downpour is further eroding trust. From brand loyalty to declining productivity, fraudulent calls threaten the most critical KPIs in the financial services industry. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed in the financial services field said their business had been spoofed by an impersonator, and 48% of consumers said spoofed calls made them suspicious of any subsequent calls from that company.
This translates to one of the biggest threats to brand value and loyalty and has tangible business repercussions. Financial services workers surveyed said that not being able to reach customers by phone hurt productivity (58% of respondents), customer satisfaction (44%) and efficiency (56%) . Concretely, consumers and the FIs who serve them have become the victims of scammers.
4. The company must solve the problem. Ninety-two percent of financial services workers think the voice channel has become more important than ever, and they realize that not marking their calls becomes a barrier to doing business. A large majority of those surveyed (75%) said they knew their outgoing calls were mistakenly marked as spam or blocked as fraudulent. Unsurprisingly, they blame the blame for this state of affairs on spammers and fraudsters (58%), device makers (33%) and the government (33%). Interestingly, however, 54% of financial services professionals believe it is the responsibility of FIs to fix the problem.
“These four trends clearly indicate that consumers will continue to rely on live human interactions to meet their customer service needs in this industry, but fraudulent calls pose serious threats to the customer experience that technologists salespeople and brand managers need to fix it, ”Shepherd said. . Fortunately, there are steps financial institutions can take to build consumer confidence they have worked so hard for, including better branding of their calls. “
Make a path to regain confidence
Despite the increased use of mobile banking apps, chatbots, and other channels designed to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, consumers will still need – and desire – to have live human interactions. By combining smart strategies with technologies specifically designed to combat fraudulent calls, businesses can increase the value of their voice channel, regain consumer confidence, and improve their overall business performance.