“In the old days, you could pick up the phone, make a couple of calls and find a potential customer willing
to talk to someone about a lower rate. Today, it is like finding a needle in a haystack in the dark!”
Brent Seaman, COO for VekStar, (news - alert) a $13 million outsourced contact center provider dedicated to the financial services sector, uses the above phrase to explain the current climate in financial services.
In the last six months, the financial services industry has seen some changes. Interest rates are rising, the refinancing boom is coming to an end, and the days are over that saw mortgage companies simply opening their doors and taking orders. Many mortgage professionals have been forced to move outside their comfort zone and try new approaches to win and retain business. As a 260-seat contact center operation based in Indianapolis, VekStar has experienced increased demand from the mortgage and banking sectors to produce high volumes of quality leads at the lowest possible cost.
VekStar works on behalf of several hundred different financial services companies at any one time, undertaking multiple campaigns and generating thousands of qualified new business prospects every week. The company's existing IT solution was struggling to cope, and management knew they needed a more sophisticated system that would enable them to reach more prospects and turn them into hot leads. At the time, the company was spending too much time supervising and managing teams, and they were faced with the added burden of do-not-call (DNC) compliance. In addition, because of the depth of detail required to produce highly qualified leads, VekStar also needed improved scripting capabilities to answer a large number of questions, some of them very routine. They needed a solution that would maximize the potential opportunity from every call.
The company was not merely focused on the short-term, it was looking for a technology supplier that could offer a solution to help them develop and grow business into the future. Because of increased competition within the financial services market, VekStar knew it needed to adopt new strategies for differentiation, focusing on greater personalization and more emphasis on customer retention. This goal required the ability to manage many different campaigns with different messages.
VekStar's wish-list included:
' Comprehensive scripting for lead qualification;
' The ability to handle multiple campaigns simultaneously;
' The ability to meet compliance regulations;
' A system that would support growth;
' Improved reporting;
' Cost savings through enhanced management;
' First-call resolution; and
' Fast implementation.
Selecting The Right Partner
The first solution the company chose didn't work out; they had made the decision to purchase primarily based on price, but later found the solution to be counter-productive. It took over 30 days to install and, once operational, it was unable to adhere to the fast pace of the call center. It required too much support from IT staff, and it provided unreliable reporting. Not only was the system slow and unable to handle multiple campaigns, but VekStar was skeptical of the system's ability to comply to the mandatory three percent cap on call abandon rates.
VekStar investigated alternatives and switched to Amcat's Contact Center Suite solution. VekStar reported that the transition was seamless, and the core campaigns were operational within five days.
The first major difference VekStar witnessed was the increase in efficiency. Since changing technology, the company has experienced approximately 30 percent more productivity in its campaigns. This was due to a number of combined factors. First, the company was able to make better use of data using a 'recycling' facility that automatically fed records back into the system if initial contact was unsuccessful. Now, not only can a number be recalled if no one is home, but VekStar has the ability to group data using other parameters, depending on the customer's circumstances. For example, a customer might say, 'I am not interested at present, but may be refinancing in a couple of months,' or 'Call me back on Saturday once I've spoken with my husband.' The record would then be automatically scheduled for a callback at the appropriate period, or alternatively at set intervals such as 30, 60 or 90 days. The recycling rules allow VekStar to reach more people, cut down on wasted data and, in turn, achieve maximum return on list resources, which ultimately benefits their clients.
VekStar wanted the technology to maximize their 'talk-time,' but they were also looking to improve the way calls were handled and to provide better service to customers. Processing loan or mortgage applications can be a complicated process; companies need to be able to screen candidates thoroughly. The agent's desktop application became a central focus. VekStar needed a solution that would allow them to easily personalize the questions depending on the campaign.
More important, they needed to be able to transfer the caller and the caller's corresponding data to another extension, department or even a qualified advisor at another location if necessary. Indeed, many mortgage companies are now looking for 'live, hot transfers,' which means they can transfer the lead with all the corresponding data directly to the loan officer. Without this option, there is the danger of having to call the customer back, which in many cases can result in a lost sale or lead.
Over the last six months, the onus within the financial services industry has clearly centered on customer satisfaction and retention. Achieving first-call resolution represents the first key step, because it is all about ensuring that the customer is matched to the right offer at the right time. The design of the agent desktop application helps staff members to easily access all the information they need to complete a well-qualified application in a single call.
Staying In Control And In Compliance
In the past it had been difficult for VekStar to track and monitor the productivity of campaigns; they now have access to built-in, user-friendly management tools. For example, the company's management consoles now provide a view of all campaigns and allow both management team members and the company's clients to view real-time statistics on group or agent performance. They can see whether campaigns need any adjustments and make those changes on-the-fly. It also helps them judge which agents are performing best and which agents require more training.
VekStar determined early in the process that their customer communication system must be easy to manage and maintain for success. With their new system, they are able to set the campaign parameters, including the call abandonment rate, as dictated by compliance regulations. This is important because the alternative is to have supervisors watching the system to be sure the company remains in compliance. Meeting the latest do-not-call compliance rules is a serious issue for any financial services organization. Amcat's solution offered VekStar peace of mind that compliance was being attained and monitored automatically.
In the new, more regulated environment, it's even more vital to make every contact count. That is what Indeed, many mortgage
companies are now
looking for “live,
hot transfers,” which
means they can transfer
the lead with all the
directly to the loan officer.
VekStar remains focused on in its technology and customer contact processes. Not only are they improving the experience of every call, but they are also investing in additional brand-building activities such as direct mail and advertising with their own printing and mail house. When they do speak to a prospect, it's more likely that prospect will have heard about the company and will therefore be more receptive to offers. At present, the company is sending approximately 15,000 direct mail pieces per month. Later this year, the company plans to use the Amcat system to handle the inbound calls generated from those direct marketing activities. VekStar has stated that in the future, it anticipates inbound traffic to rise to approximately 30 percent of all calls.
Because the new system provides VekStar with greater flexibility, the company can increase agent capacity faster and easier. Once additional staff are hired and trained, they can be operational within a few hours. VekStar has plans to open a third location in Florida soon, and plans to add as many as 5,000 seats to its total operation over the next 36 months. Amcat has also shown its commitment to being a long-term partner and not just a technology company. This factor, reports VekStar, is perhaps the most important facet of the relationship the two companies have developed. CIS
For more information about Amcat, visit www.amcat.com (news - alert).
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