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03:51 PM
Wayne Dunn, HarborOne Credit Union, and Jim Freeze, Aspect
Wayne Dunn, HarborOne Credit Union, and Jim Freeze, Aspect

When Service Trumps Hassle: The Strategy Behind Attracting and Retaining Customers

How HarborOne Increased Market Share and Sales through Customer Service & a United Enterprise

Many consumers would argue that changing banks is a hassle. So why, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, did 6.5 million U.S. adults with a banking relationship change providers in the last three months of 2011 despite being highly resistant to moving their money? For many, the answer is customer service.

Economic turmoil over the last several years has caused consumers to increasingly demand constant insight into the status and movement of their money. As a result, angst with banking institutions stems not from account perks and interest rates, but more often from poor customer experiences and a lack of access to people and information. In this environment, customer loyalty has never been more important, but it has also never been more difficult to maintain. And, quality of customer contact and access in the financial sector is imperative for companies to deliver a differentiated customer experience.

This all starts with a well-executed customer service strategy.

How Contact Center Technology Helped HarborOne Improve Customer Service

HarborOne Credit Union is the largest state-chartered community credit union in New England and one of the top 100 in the country. The credit union serves the financial needs of consumer and business banking customers through a network of 14 full-service branches, and a mortgage office. As part of their customer service strategy, HarborOne implemented contact center technology that easily integrated with their collaboration strategy, Microsoft Lync, which utilizes unified communications software for voice, IM, web conferencing and video.

With this integrated approach to collaboration and customer contact, HarborOne is able to provide customer service by telephone and direct IM. In addition, because of the integration with Lync, HarborOne can easily locate and involve available experts throughout the organization to quickly answer a customer’s question or resolve an issue. They can do this seamlessly and with complete tracking of the experience without the requirement of a specialized call center client on every expert’s desktop.

Over the past year, HarborOne has increased their market share across many of the communities they serve. Customer satisfaction surveys are consistently above 95 percent in the very good to excellent categories and they have seen sales from the contact center increase approximately 20 percent. But how did HarborOne achieve these benefits?

Implementing a Customer Service Strategy

It’s no secret that any organization must see a return for any investment, whether it’s technology, personnel, a new department, etc. That’s no different for investment in customer service. The benefits of a well-executed customer service strategy are two-fold, in that they provide both consumer-facing and internal benefits, ultimately improving the customer experience and providing a measurable impact on the bottom line. But in order to realize these benefits, banking organizations must know where to start.

Here are three takeaways to consider based on HarborOne’s approach to customer service:

1. Ensure the strategy is enterprise-wide in scope and everyone has ownership.

Consistency in the service experience is critical, especially if an organization provides a variety of services such as consumer and business banking or commercial lending. Banking customers today expect an efficient, multi-channel approach to service. Whether a customer chooses a mobile platform, online chat, integrated voice response, or face-to-face contact by walking up to a teller window, information needs to be readily available anytime, anywhere.

This means an organization’s culture of efficient customer service must be addressed through integrated systems and the involvement of all business units. Customer service cannot just be the responsibility of the contact center, it must be top of mind for everyone from marketing to sales to IT to ensure the entire organization can effectively serve consumers.

An enterprise-wide approach ensures the consumer facing benefits of a customer service strategy are realized. This includes the ability to service the customer quickly and efficiently across multiple channels.

2. Choose technologies and partners that fit the strategy.

A successful customer service strategy takes into account not only process, but technology as well. With an enterprise-wide strategy, presentation of information based on the individual consumer also becomes critical. In other words, systems and interfaces need to be versatile enough for a contact center representative working by phone and also translate to an appropriate format for self-service or interactive displays for a branch customer service representative when they assist the customer in-person. In addition to the technologies, employees or partners who “get” the vision and fit with the culture are crucial to accomplishing your goals.

3. Ensure collaboration exists during and as part of the design.

Implementing a well-executed customer service strategy is always successful when perspectives from all corners and levels of the organization are involved from the start. Then, once the strategy is in place, platforms that allow for instant collaboration during the customer interaction improve the ability to serve that person immediately; as opposed to the ubiquitous “I will have someone contact you about this.”

Collaboration provides the customer with faster access to experts across the organization and results in a more satisfied client and the ability to more easily attract and retain customers. Internally, the facilitation of collaboration and integration of systems allows for improved knowledge transfer throughout the organization and improved efficiency in allocation of resources.

Keeping these three points in mind is an almost guaranteed way to ensure a successful, well-executed customer service strategy. The result -- customers that don’t feel the need to move their money, and an open door to turning those satisfied and empowered customers into advocates that can help attract new customers and grow your business -- will provide a measurable impact for banking organizations.

Wayne Dunn is the Chief Technology Officer at HarborOne Credit Union. Jim Freeze is the SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Aspect Software.

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