By Tim Morris, MD of Cymphony
Despite financial services adapting quickly to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, it seems the sector is suffering its own form of ’long COVID’ that could lead to burnout if business do not act now. A recent survey suggests that large numbers of financial services professionals are planning to leave the industry due to high pressure1. Tim Morris, the MD of Cymphony, a communications provider specialising in enquiry handling with a personal touch, believes technology can play a significant role in alleviating the pressure on staff and preventing exhaustion.
Logging off after work
A recent HSE study found that over seventeen million of the UK’s working days were lost because of workplace stress. So, one way your business can combat this is by helping your employees switch off after work. However, this is often easier said than done, particularly at the moment with economic headwinds and rising rates causing financial businesses to be busier and therefore asking staff to work longer hours than they should.
Do a quick internet search for “how to switch off after work” and 99 per cent of the articles you come across will recommend having a detox from technology. However, leaving the phone lines and email inbox unmanned can potentially cost you thousands of pounds’ worth of business. So, what is the answer? To allow you and your workforce a much-needed detox, I suggest outsourcing your customer service to someone qualified as an inbound communication specialist to answer calls and messages out of hours. These services are available 24/7 and will massively boost your customer service ratings because they make your business more accessible to your customers.
Help your fee earners to focus on their work
Organisational skills and excellent administration are the hallmarks of any successful business. However, if you want to get the best out of your team and reduce the chances of burning them out, I strongly suggest decreasing your fee earners admin to allow them to focus solely on bringing in money.
One use of technology to reduce distractions is to eliminate cold callers. After such a long and welcome lull of cold callers during the pandemic, these uninvited interruptions often feel more annoying than they should. You could buy a call blocker to plug into your office landline to help brokers avoid nuisance calls. These usually work in the same way as the call blockers built into phones, in that they have a ‘blacklist’ of numbers or number types and prevent any incoming calls from them. If your business uses smartphones, you will have the option to block specific callers. Android and iPhone handsets let you add numbers to a blocked list, reject unknown callers altogether or set a ‘do not disturb’ mode that only allows calls from certain numbers. There is of course, always the danger that important calls are missed this way. Outsourcing your inbound communications is the best solution to ensure you avoid cold callers altogether and still capture valuable customer enquiries. This way, your fee earner’s calls will be handled by a customer service professional on their behalf, allowing them to get on with other activities.
Reducing email admin is also a great way to help employees be more productive throughout the day. On average, 28% of work time is spent on emailing21. To remove this distraction, I suggest using email autoresponders. This allows your staff to schedule time into their day where they can address customer service issues instead of jumping in and out of them. A customer wants to know that their email has been received and that help is on the way. When customers’ concerns, problems or complaints go ignored, additional frustrations can emerge, affecting your long-term relationship with them. By using email autoresponders, you instantly let a customer know their email has been received and that they should expect action to be taken soon. Most importantly, ensure you respond in the time frame you have committed to and meet the expectations you have set for your customer.
Smaller independents will benefit from offering a digital journey
Smaller independent financial businesses must adopt the use of digital tools into their process to compete with bigger brands. However, not having the financial resources to bring in and utilise tech as part of the customer journey is often a big problem.
Unfortunately, businesses that rely on paper, manual tasks and legacy tech cannot compete in an ever-evolving digital landscape. The first thing any financial provider should do is ensure they have a great website to convey their brand and help their company to stand out. Not only will this help their business look the part, but it will also generate new enquiries. When designing a new website, it is important to ensure the site has the capability to convert visits into enquiries by placing calls to action throughout to encourage visitors to email or pick up the phone.
The next step is to provide a great digital journey to ensure it offers multiple channels for interacting with customers. This is because home buyers now want to communicate with brokers through their ‘channel of choice’ – for example, web chat, form fills, social media posts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, email and, of course, the phone. When given their ‘channel of choice’ prospects are more likely to convert into customers. So, linking all these touchpoints to create an omnichannel customer experience can improve a business’s interaction rates and increase sales.
As customers interact with a financial business across multiple channels, they must provide an omnichannel customer support strategy to run alongside it. It should ensure their customers can communicate directly with an agent on the channel or platform they choose. Inbound communications tools such as live web chat, for example, are popular contact channels for companies and customers to use. Web chat enables businesses to keep consumers on their site, allowing them to ask questions, gain insights and even make purchases.
Now more than ever, businesses must embrace technology, understanding that it can play a significant role in helping staff to focus on their work and ease the stresses they face. In turn, this will lead to better business performance and a happier and more productive workforce.