Different Industries, Similar Challenges
Despite being widely divergent in the services that healthcare and banking provide, the challenges their contact centers face are remarkably similar.
Accelerated digitization: Financial services and healthcare were already rapidly moving toward digitizing records and creating virtual CX. However, before 2020, both industries retained a high number of in-person interactions. The global pandemic forced digitization of CX at an accelerated pace, albeit more so for banking than healthcare (it is arguably more difficult for doctors to diagnose a patient via a webchat than for an individual to open a savings account). Nonetheless, healthcare saw a significant increase in services conducted remotely. In the United States, the telehealth market swelled from $16.6 billion in 2019 to more than $36.4 billion by the end of 2021 and will exceed $111.8 billion by 2025.11
The resulting implications for contact centers are twofold. First, channels of communication need to expand to accommodate customers who now want to conduct their transactions through new avenues such as online portals and apps, virtual chat, social media, and even SMS texting (see Frost & Sullivan’s white paper titled “Contact Centers in a New Age of Workforce Dynamics” for more details on the different modes of contact center communication). A recent Chase Bank report showed that 80% of its customers preferred digital banking to in-person interactions12. Second, many customers need intuitive channels because they are new to online commerce and communication. For example, by May 2020, first-time users accounted for more than 40% of online grocery sales13.
Increases in transactions and customer service: With new ways to communicate with customers, banking and healthcare experienced spikes in customer interactions. Globally, 34% of banking and 62% of healthcare market participants noted recent, significant increases in customer interactions.14 This comes as no surprise as the healthcare industry is at the front line of caring for waves of COVID-19 patients. In banking, economic uncertainty, low interest rates, increasing interest in cryptocurrencies, and a housing boom resulted in sudden peaks in activity. For example, new brokerage accounts at investment giant Charles Schwab Corp. grew 93% in early 2021.15 Contact centers must ensure that their tools allow them the flexibility to handle surges of activity without compromising quality or unduly stressing agents. WEM tools that leverage smart analytics and automation can identify and funnel more direct questions to virtual service solutions (chatbots, for instance), leaving human agents the time to focus on more complex customer issues.
As a result, many finance and healthcare contact centers are integrating unified communications and contact center tools. In a recent Frost & Sullivan contact center management poll, 53% of banks and 60% of healthcare businesses said integrating such tools in the future was “extremely important” (considered a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale of importance). “Improved customer journey” was the leading reason for the integration of such tools for both industries.