Strategy image

How Extraco Banks Achieved 75% Self-Service Rates and 90% Call Handling Rates

By Soren Bested, Chief Operating Officer, Agent IQ 

Soren-Bested image

Extraco Banks prides itself in making personal financial management easier and faster through world-class products and services delivered with a human touch. Consistently on the lookout to improve their customer product offering and service, Extraco Banks recognized the engagement benefit of providing messaging-based services in addition to their existing branch network and directed services operation (call centers). A messaging-based service would provide the ability to support their customers in a more personal and less resource-intensive manner by offering an opportunity for broader self-service options and for reducing the operational pressure on call centers.

Rather than developing such a solution, Extraco Banks focused on finding a solution partner that would allow them to extend their managed service offering and provide more self-service options through integrated virtual-assistance (AI chatbot), along with differentiated personal service. In 2021, Extraco Banks implemented the Agent IQ Lynq™ digital engagement platform, a personal digital engagement solution, powered by augmented intelligence to help FIs drive communication and engagement with customers.

Extraco Banks refined The Agent IQ Lynq platform to include:

1.   Anonymous/live chat embedded in their public-facing website.

2.   Authenticated asynchronous messaging embedded into their existing mobile app and online banking website.

3.   A self-service solution powered by highly configurable and flexible AI-powered virtual assistance embedded in the live chat.

Extraco Bank created different positioning for the two major customer-facing aspects of the new service:

·        Gabby - the virtual AI powered self-service anonymous web chat model, designed to allow customers to complete many basic tasks without having to interact with human bankers.

·        ChitChat - the personal service provided through authenticated mobile messaging. Customers can choose a relationship banker and continue to engage with them over extended periods of time, developing deeper relationships and trust.

Having separate branding and names for their web chat and mobile messaging experiences allowed Extraco Banks to easily communicate with their customers about the benefits of each while still internally using just the one Agent IQ Lynq platform. Having these services embedded within their existing digital and mobile banking service creates a convenient engagement model that is personal, persistent and proactive.

Celebrating early wins is exciting but understanding how changes evolve or sustain over longer periods of time is important. Since the launch nearly a year ago, the bank has experienced significant tangible benefits.

The evolution of self-service

Customer frustration with self-service capabilities are generally driven by the inability to escalate to a human, or the fact that the available options do not address their immediate needs. Extraco Banks and Agent IQ focused on the data about actions customers took and how they navigated the existing system. Given that the platform provides detailed insights on customer activity, the Extraco Banks team was able to rely on these insights and adopt to evolving customer needs. This proved much more effective than trying to predict what a customer wanted without quantifiable data. Using AI-powered analysis of conversations combined with the feedback from their bankers, the team has continued to refine self-service options and enable additional services.

In the last year, the bank has seen the self-service rates go from 25% at launch, to more than 75% currently. This is in addition to increasing customer satisfaction as reported from improving CSAT scores.

Customer support and call center experience

Adoption of Extraco Banks web chat, Gabby, has been swift, with monthly conversations exceeding 3,000 within the first 3 months of launch.

With more than 75% of these conversations now being completed without the need for a banker participating, the impact to the call center has been significant. Not only do bankers have more time to be inquisitive and helpful when they are engaged in a conversation - an important step towards shifting a call center from a cost center to a revenue center- but the team has also been able to reduce the workload of employees, enabling them to focus on other activities.

In early 2021 when call handling rates hit a low of less than 60%, the Extraco team had to respond by adding more agents. Following the launch of Gabby and ChitChat, the call center is now operating with approximately 50% of the 2021 staffing, and call handling rates are exceeding 90%. This is a big advantage when finding quality talent is becoming an ever increasingly difficult task.

As customers continue to realize the unique advantage of working with their banker of choice through ChitChat, the adoption of the service has now exceeded 35% of their digitally active customers. These customers enjoy the ability to message their personal banker anytime and anywhere without having to repeat past conversations or verification, and without having to actively wait for a response because of the app notification feature. This high adoption rate with the self-service availability of Gabby has allowed bankers to enjoy looking after their personal book of business and having the freedom to respond at their convenience.

Employee satisfaction

Often, just the thought of a new technology consideration can raise concern for even the most veteran of employees. But with the implementation of the Agent IQ service, positive employee feedback at Extraco Banks has been overwhelming.

“We have had a ton of compliments regarding the ease of use and ability to quickly assist customers”, said Krista Roses, VP, Manager, Self Directed Services, Extraco Banks. “The gap to learn the platform was almost nonexistent.”

This welcoming sentiment held true beyond the personal, one-to-one nature of ChitChat to also include the self-service Gabby functionality. Working through the initial skepticism, Extraco employees quickly saw how they could provide their customers with self-service recommendations (through Gabby) and support the more in-depth and bespoke needs through the personal engagement functionality (ChitChat). In fact, the self-service options dramatically reduced the call volume over a period of 10 months by almost 30,000 calls.

Extraco Banks’ employees also benefit from the streamlined ability to have contextual, informative conversations with customers because the platform provides the complete history of the conversations alongside the authenticated information obtained from the mobile banking solution. In addition, there is more confidence from the customer and banker to get and provide what is helpful. Abandoned chats and long wait times are eliminated and engagement with customers feels more authentic and genuine.

Customer experience and satisfaction are at the center of Extraco Banks’ initiatives. Agent IQ’s Lynq platform provide support and engagement to customers anytime, anywhere and enables Extraco Banks to present answers to frequently asked questions immediately, empower the customer to connect to a human banker at any stage and provide the option of requesting a follow-up outside of office hours. This engagement model ensures personal, persistent and proactive customer engagement, which results in increased customer satisfaction and a more profitable and efficient bank.

About Author:

Soren Bested is the chief operating officer of San Francisco-based Agent IQ, a provider of digital customer engagement solutions specializing in making financial services more personal again.

Bested’s multicontinental career has allowed him the opportunity to see many of his achievements heralded as revolutionizing the mobile banking and payments service industries.