Chapter 3: How Advanced Workforce Engagement Management Bridges Challenges for Diverse Industries

New, advanced workforce engagement management tools will be crucial for contact centers as they address workplace trends such as changing demographics and remote employees. The same forces shaping the work environment are changing how customers interact with contact centers. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the virtualization of customer experience and employee experience, leaving contact centers scrambling to adapt their operations accordingly.

Shifts in CX and EX have heavily impacted financial services and healthcare businesses. While this chapter will provide examples of how and why they can use advanced WEM and other contact center tools to improve operations and experiences, the lessons learned here apply across industries.

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.

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.

Already Leading in Digital CX, Upgrading Contact Centers to Save Money and Improve Operations

The financial services and banking industry is at the forefront of digital transformation. Before the pandemic, mobile account servicing, banking apps, and online lending procedures were commonplace, but contact center tools have not always kept pace with an organization’s advances in CX and operational efficiencies.

Case study 1: A major US bank found that it could improve its CX and speed to market by unifying disparate contact center platforms through Verizon’s Virtual Contact Center (VCC) solution. The new solution increased customer interactions through digital web and chat channels, corresponding to trends observed independently in Frost & Sullivan’s research. Along with improved CX, the new solution helped accelerate decision-making by improving the management of enterprise-wide reporting and metrics. It also provided cost-saving features such as e-learning for training, which is now a requirement considering remote workforces. Frost & Sullivan research found that banks cite cost as the leading restraint for not upgrading their contact center tools; hence, finding ways to mitigate upfront investments helps these enterprises benefit from upgrades more quickly.

Case study 2: A large regional bank with hundreds of branches and more than 1,000 agents needed to upgrade its aging contact center technology that was rapidly approaching obsolescence. Systems that were more than a decade old, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and interactive voice response applications, required significant improvements. Outdated contact center technologies are hard to maintain and keep secure and may struggle to meet business growth, new modes of communication, and increasing customer expectations.

In addition to updating crucial systems, the bank integrated new solutions to enhance CX and EX. These included intelligent routing that could integrate with the latest CRM, real-time and historical reporting, and a new queueing platform adapting to evolving omnichannel needs. It also included speech recognition and outbound calling to increase operational efficiency and quality management capabilities to help track and improve scheduling, agent coaching, and performance.

An overhaul of this magnitude needs careful planning and budgeting. Hence, the bank chose Verizon to help it build a Genesys cloud platform that scales with business needs and moves previously fixed capital expenses to usage-based operational costs. Genesys’s complete contact center solution allows the bank to upgrade its entire contact center strategy without fear of under-building its capacity or over-investing in unneeded capabilities.

Beginning quotation mark  Outdated contact center technologies are hard to maintain and keep secure and may struggle to meet business growth, new modes of communication, and increasing customer expectations."

More Than CX: Modern Contact Center Tools Critical for Meeting Regulatory Mandates in Healthcare

Case study 3: A large US-based healthcare company found that its customer contact strategy lacked critical features needed to accommodate an anticipated 200% growth in new business on top of seasonal contact volume expansion and contraction. Specifically, the company did not have multichannel solutions that could scale on demand, echoing the two main challenges noted earlier: adding channels and managing contact volumes. The business was also concerned that patient response time was too long, and other mandates needed addressing to comply with recent regulatory requirements.

The healthcare provider turned to the VCC to help it create a scalable, responsive system. Verizon’s solution streamlined communications through features such as automated call routing, email solutions, and integrated click-to-chat. The solution also improved agent productivity by adding multichannel capabilities and addressing response time and capacity fluctuations. It gave the healthcare business better visibility and near-real-time reporting across contact center operations.

Verizon’s solution streamlined communications through features such as automated call routing, email solutions, and integrated click-to-chat.

Challenges—and Leading Solutions—Span Industries

While the examples above show how leaders in banking and healthcare addressed current contact center challenges, the implications and benefits of improving operations with advanced technology reverberate across industries. Retail, travel, shipping, and other massive industries all confront the need to expand and integrate customer service channels and manage capacity fluctuations. They must ensure that such solutions improve rather than hinder CX and agent productivity. The rapid, accelerating digitization of how people buy goods and services, conduct their work, and communicate necessitates a technology-driven contact center for any business in any industry to optimize operations, serve customers, and remain competitive.

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