Beyond Bank is focusing its technology development and resources on building out an omnichannel environment, allowing customers to engage in a mix of digital channels.
National manager Brent Alexander told iTnews the bank had been able to keep its regular call centres operating, at a time where other large organisations had struggled with capacity.
However, he said that call volumes “haven’t necessarily increased” over time.
“They've stayed pretty consistent in line with our growth,” Alexander said.
“What has significantly increased is the usage of our digital channels.”
Beyond Bank recently introduced webchat, a step in an ongoing technology development effort aimed at creating an omnichannel environment.
Part of the development work has gone into making transfers between channels as smooth as possible for customers and contact centre agents.
“Given that people are working from home and that technology has become a bigger part of day-to-day life for the average person on the workforce, I think that is going to put more pressure and more expectation on banks and any service industry to be able to support a varying number of channels, quicker than they had been before,” Alexander said.
Beyond Bank’s ability to meet the customer service challenges posed by the pandemic is in part the result of a significant project last year to overhaul its contact centre operations.
It engaged QPC Australia to help replace its decade-old queuing system with a Genesys Cloud-based solution to handle more than 350,000 customer interactions annually.
The system went live in May 2019 and has reduced handle times by 30 seconds or 17 percent, Alexander said.
In order to match its competitors on customer experience, the bank put together a business case to replace its on-premises contact centre platform - which had received little investment in the past decade - and add new capabilities to functions in the call centre that were still performed manually.
Using skills-based routing, calls are directed to the most closely matched and skilled agent available, leading to faster resolution of customer issues.
Those time savings allowed the bank to reallocate staff to customer outreach, a revenue-generating task to strengthen customer relationships by welcoming broker customers to the bank within 48 hours of being approved for a loan.
This, in turn, lled to a jump in customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores from 89 percent to 92 percent within three months of the new platform coming online.
A platform for pandemic response
The platform also supported the bank through a transition to some remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Covid forced the country into lockdown in March, contact centres were put under immense pressure as call volumes increased and staff numbers were reduced to comply with social distancing restrictions.
Alexander said Beyond Bank’s biggest challenge when Covid hit was not access to a contact centre platform, but making sure agents had laptops and access to internal banking systems.
“We had the confidence that we could send people home and they could be on [calls] straight away,” he said.
“Even if [agents] couldn't access the banking systems, at least we could still answer calls and speak to our customers, which was a real relief and [brought a] sense of satisfaction to the business that regardless [of the situation] we could look after our customers.”
The bank's contact centres are based in Adelaide and Canberra, two cities with less severe coronavirus case numbers and corresponding restrictions.
Beyond Bank initially spread the teams out across multiple sites, which allowed the business to plan for the work from home transition over a three-to-four week period.
After a successful “two week on, two week off” trial, the bank implemented a more regular work from home scenario, and now between 30-40 percent of the workforce is at home on any given day.
"Prior to the pandemic it had been on our one-to-three year plan to incorporate work from home in some way. I think this has not only accelerated it, it has probably increased the numbers that we would have trialled with,” Alexander said.
Alexander said the work from home policy has increased employee engagement and job satisfaction, which was a key criteria for the bank’s technology choice.
As well as improvements to customer experience and return on investment, the contact centre platform also had to deliver on employee experience.
"We were very conscious of making sure our employees' experience improved as a result as well. If you get that right that flows on to positive customer experience," Alexander said.
"If you have a team that's frustrated with the systems they are using, best intentions or not, that tends to flow out to the customer."
The bank said the new platform also made it easier to predict staff rostering requirements and has greatly improved service-level standards by using historical data to understand periods of peak demand.