Complaint Management in Financial Services Call Centers


November 6, 2023

Written by

Milliscent Lucio

Money matters usually make people talk. A lot. Such is the case for a call center for financial services, especially those dealing in refund processing. This makes complaint management a necessary skill, given the heightened emotions and expectations often accompanying financial inquiries.

It is, however, understandable that people want to know the where and hows of their money. Customers rightfully seek transparency and clear communication regarding their finances, and the ability to navigate these conversations effectively is paramount.

Nevertheless, it's essential to recognize that complaints, when managed skillfully, can be more than just resolutions to specific issues; they can be valuable opportunities for building trust and strengthening customer relationships.

Before we delve into the benefits of mastering this art, let's establish a solid foundation by exploring the role and significance of a financial services call center.

Understanding the Financial Services Call Center Environment

Financial services companies play a crucial role in managing, safeguarding, and optimizing individuals' financial resources. Within this industry, call centers have emerged as vital hubs for customer interaction, serving as the primary communication channels between financial institutions and their clientele.

The financial services call center serves as a central point for engaging with customers who seek information, support, and solutions for a wide array of financial matters. This domain, of course, comes with customer complaints.

In any industry, customer complaints are inevitable. In financial services, where the stakes are high, adept complaint management is more than just a skill; it's a fundamental requirement. Understanding how to manage complaints from customers effectively is not just about issue resolution. It's an opportunity to reinforce trust, showcase your institution's commitment to customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, convert a negative experience into a positive one.

Types of Complaints in Financial Services Call Centers

There are varying complaints received by financial call centers. Here are some of the more common ones encountered and some scenarios to illustrate:

Long Wait Time

Speed is key in financial services call centers. It’s not ideal to make a customer wait, especially when angry. 

Quick and effective service delivery not only appeases irate customers but also contributes to the overall reputation of the call center and the financial institution it represents.

For example, Sheila, a customer, wants to cancel her monthly subscription to a sports streaming site. She contacts customer support and waits for an agent to answer her call. The longer she waits, the more frustrated she becomes.

Eventually, an agent answers and cancels her subscription. But her mood has soured by the initial experience, so she writes a negative review. That negative review then reflects, not just on the call center but on the streaming site, affecting both businesses’ reputations.

Automated Calls

It’s not recommended to fully rely on technology to answer customer inquiries and requests. According to PwC, 75% of customers still prefer to interact with a real person.

Human call center agents offer a personalized touch to interactions, significantly enhancing the overall customer experience.

Let’s take Sheila as an example once again, this time inquiring about the availability of a product. A robotic voice replies that it is sold out. Often that’s the end of it. Sheila can’t ask other questions that are not in the program, leaving her unsatisfied.

However, when assisted by a human agent, the outcome is entirely different. The agent not only informs Sheila about the product's unavailability but also suggests alternative, similar products. The agent can even contact the shop owner to inquire about the restocking schedule. As a result, Sheila finds a suitable alternative from the same shop, transforming a potential roadblock into a satisfied customer experience.

Call Transfers

It can be frustrating for customers to have to repeat their inquiries over and over again to multiple agents. It’s inconvenient and time-consuming. This is the case for customer support without an omnichannel capability and when agents are undertrained in seamless information retrieval and collaboration.

Say Sheila didn’t have to wait long to talk to an agent to ask about the availability of an item. When she asks when the next restock will be, she is transferred to another agent. She repeats her inquiry, but this agent also doesn’t know.

Her patience wears thin, and she drops the call after the third agent. She looks for the product in other shops instead.

Denied Refund Requests

Businesses have their refund policies. Some allow it, and some do not. For those who allow it, refunds can only be redeemed within a specific time frame.

Either way, there are times that customers demand a refund beyond these time frames. In that case, the inquiry is escalated and forwarded to the client for the proper action.

For this scenario, Sheila does not cancel in time, and thus a subscription fee is automatically deducted from her account. So, she requested a refund along with the cancellation.

However, the streaming site does not allow refunds, angering Sheila. She continues to demand a refund. After all options are exhausted, the agent forwards the situation to the client and waits for their decision.

The Complaint Handling Process

Customer complaints are an inevitable aspect of business operations, necessitating a structured complaint management system within a call center to address them effectively. Below is a breakdown of the general complaint management process.

Step 1: Receiving Complaints

First, complaints are received from any call center’s communication channels. This is a critical part of the process in which the agent must practice active listening and empathy.

By reiterating key points and giving occasional verbal responses, you show the customer that you care and are actively working on solving the problem.

Moreover, empathy plays a pivotal role in fostering a rational and constructive conversation. By stepping into the customer's shoes, you can better comprehend their emotions and concerns, ultimately forging a more meaningful connection during the interaction.

Step 2: Logging and Categorizing Complaints

The next step is to log these complaints and put them in the right category. The categories are usually based on the urgency of the complaints.

Thanks to the rapid development of technology, there exists a selection of tools that can help with the documentation of these complaints. This is especially helpful when other customers encounter the same problem; the agent can simply refer to previously resolved complaints.

Step 3: Investigation and Analysis

After the customer has expressed all their concerns and grievances, the next step involves identifying the underlying root causes of the issues. This phase necessitates a comprehensive examination to get to the heart of the matter, ensuring a thorough understanding of the origin of the problems and paving the way for effective resolution. 

Step 4: Resolution and Communication

Once the root cause has been identified, it’s time to identify the best solution for the problem. This decision-making process can benefit significantly from referencing past cases and identifying the solutions that have proven most effective in similar situations.

Effective communication plays a pivotal role at this stage as well. Clarity and directness in conveying instructions are paramount to minimize the risk of misunderstandings and ensure that the chosen solution is executed accurately and efficiently. 

Open and transparent dialogue with the customer is key to achieving the best resolution and maintaining customer satisfaction.

Step 5: Escalation and Regulatory Compliance

In cases where the customer remains unsatisfied, escalation is the best solution. This happens when the customer starts spewing out threats or is calling for legal action.

The complaint is then forwarded to the client. The proceeding action would then depend on their judgment.  This collaborative approach ensures that the highest level of seriousness and focus is applied to address the situation and arrive at a suitable resolution.

Measuring Success: Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators or KPIs are a set of metrics that serve as a performance evaluation tool for businesses. To determine whether a financial services call center’s customer complaint management procedure is going in the right direction, these KPIs are regularly evaluated:

  • Customer Complaint Volume

This KPI measures the number of complaints received over a specific period. It enables the call center to pinpoint periods when the volume of complaints surges. By isolating these complaint spikes, the call center can take a proactive approach to address underlying issues and maintain high-quality service.

  • Complaints Per Agent (or Team)

The goal of this KPI is to determine which agent or team has the most problems with their customers. By identifying agents or teams with a higher rate of problems, the call center can focus on training, coaching, and performance improvement strategies to enhance the overall customer experience. It serves as a stepping stone towards achieving a consistent and high level of service quality.

  • First Response Time (FRT)

FRT measures the time elapsed between a customer sending a support ticket and an agent first responding to it. A quicker first response translates to faster issue resolution, which, in turn, leads to increased customer satisfaction.

  • Average Resolution Time (ART)

ART measures the average time the agents take to resolve customer queries. This KPI helps identify issues that need more time to resolve. It can also determine which team or agent needs more training regarding query resolution. 

  • Escalation Rate

This identifies the frequency of customer issues that need to be escalated to higher management to be resolved. A low escalation rate often indicates a well-functioning and responsive customer support system. In contrast, a high escalation rate may raise concerns about the support team's capabilities or the quality of services provided.

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

This KPI measures how satisfied your customers are with the help they receive. The customer usually answers a CSAT survey at the end of an interaction.

CSAT surveys are a direct reflection of customer perception and sentiment. They help businesses understand how well they are meeting customer expectations and, in turn, how likely those customers are to continue using their products or services.

  • Abandonment Rate

Finally, abandonment rate is a KPI that indicates the frequency of callers who drop the call before they can speak to an agent. When the abandonment rate is high, it serves as a warning signal that there may be shortcomings within the call center, particularly concerning extended queue times and other potential issues.

Turning a Bad Experience Around

The financial services call center industry operates at the intersection of money and emotions. Handling inquiries, particularly those related to refunds and financial concerns, requires a unique skill set that combines financial expertise with effective complaints management. Customers, when dealing with their finances, naturally seek transparency and clear communication.

Recognizing the importance of mastering how to manage customer complaints is paramount. Complaints, when skillfully addressed, become opportunities to foster trust and strengthen customer relationships. Instead of viewing them as problems to solve, they can be seen as stepping stones to improved customer satisfaction.

Client complaint management solutions require skill, training, and time. Time that your in-house staff may struggle to allocate while juggling core business processes. Therefore, the optimal solution lies in outsourcing call center services from a seasoned service provider.

If you’re looking for a reliable partner, New Media Services is here to answer your call. Our financial services call center solutions specialize in billing services, equipping us with the knowledge and experience to address customer complaints coming your way.

With our expertise, you can efficiently navigate the intricacies of complaint management while ensuring that your customers receive the exceptional service they deserve. Contact us!

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