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Why Contact Centers Are Key To Banks' Multi-Channel Strategies

Jerry Silva, newly named head of the global retail banking practice at IDC Financial Insights, says poor performance in the call center can scuttle banks' efforts to improve customer experience.

Don't overlook the importance of the contact center in your multi-channel delivery strategy. That advice to banks was offered by long-time fintech industry figure Jerry Silva, who recently was named research director and head of the global retail banking practice at IDC Financial Insights. Silva has followed the evolution of retail delivery and the systems that support it over a 25-year career as an analyst, consultant and technology vendor, and he suggests that while topics such as mobile, online banking and the future of the branch rightly are in the spotlight, some of the most interesting opportunities have to do with what happens in the contact center and how that factors into the customer's experience.

[Jerry Silva To Lead Global Retail Banking Practice At IDC Financial Insights]

The human element of the contact center continues to be the biggest challenge, according to Silva. A number of surveys have confirmed that, "Around the world, the staffed piece of the call center is probably the least liked," he says. Accordingly, "Some of the most interesting stuff is happening around workforce optimization -- how do you have right people at right time to answer customers questions?" Another concern is the level of fraud that arises out of call center interactions, which is leading to investment in what Silva describes as "social engineering" solutions. Further, Silva suggests, banks should leverage the expertise of their business experts in areas such as student loans, cards and mortgages to deliver better, more informed service.

"The contact center is in the middle of the [retail] delivery" process, Silva says. "It is vitally important [and] banks should strengthen their positions in contact centers."

[4 Predictions About The Future of the Contact Center]

In terms his focus at IDC Financial Insights, Silva says that initially he'll be focused on "high-level strategic research around transformational technologies such as mobile, cloud, security and big data." Another hot topic for him has to do with the role core systems play in supporting banks' omnichannel (his preferred term) strategies -- or rather, addressing the limitations of those systems. "What transformation is necessary to make the channels behave differently instead of being siloed? He asks. "Ultimately, that goes back to the core."

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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