• November 1, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

ABN AMRO Banks on e-Service to Boost Customer Satisfaction

A typical customer may visit his bank's Web site several times a month, but ABN AMRO Services Company's (AASC) customers often make a significantly higher number of visits to the site to handle financial transactions. The bank's customers include high-level financial executives, and AASC recognized that it needed to have a user-friendly site. These execs' need for constant interaction via the AASC Web site could create an influx of calls. The results of a survey of AASC's corporate customer base helped to pinpoint areas to improve online customer service, including additional channels to connect with the bank. AASC then implemented an e-service solution capable of handling multiple service channels to improve its customer's experience. "Our goal is to reduce the amount of times that customers have to call us, not because we don't want them to, but as they call us it becomes a disruption in their life," says Milton Santiago, senior vice president of Electronic Banking Products, at ABN AMRO. "They want something that works, something that's going to do what they expected it to do, and something that is going to be efficient. A second that I take longer to process a specific function may cause a company to miss deadlines and may cause a company to even suffer financial hardship because of the exchanges that they are doing." Following an extensive review of possible solutions AASC selected eGain's eService Enterprise (E3) to provide much needed assistance to the bank's email, live Web assistance, and Web self-service. Before using eGain, AASC ran into hurdles when it began doing Web interactions like chat and email, because the phone agent may not have been the best person to handle those transactions. Santiago says, "We created a chat-etiquette training program," and the bank has improved consistency on outbound communication and its email management system for its more than 4,000 corporate clients. "We've also been able to reduce the amount of touch points that we've had, because as customers send emails we've been able to identify those emails that...don't require any human intervention," Santiago says. Using eGain "we're able to respond to them immediately." In fact, according to Santiago, there is a 1 minute and 15 seconds average-response time to inbound messages. Although the contact center receives 50 to 75 emails per day, the email engine can route the message immediately to the appropriate bank representative, who then responds within 15 minutes. AASC also added eGain Assistant to introduce Real-time Internet Technical Assistance, or RITA, a self-service virtual agent. Customers can get around-the-clock service with RITA, which offloads nearly 900 inquiries monthly from AASC's agents. AASC's customer base continues to grow, while the number of customer service agents has stayed constant. In fact, its Chicago-based customer service team surpassed its goals for response times and customer inquiries handled per agent. AASC's e-service initiative includes elements of self-service, but Santiago contends that the term is often associated with negativity. "I don't like the term self-service, because sometimes people equate it with less service, but in fact what these channels have done is made our servicing model much more efficient." Related articles: How Can We Increase Customer Retention While Reducing Service Costs?
The Web site is a natural starting point for a customer's support needs. Best Practices for Solving the Self-Service Paradox Web Sites Now Serve as Key Performance Indicators
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