August 19th, 2020

Some Phone Calls Are More Equal Than Others: Why Trust Matters More for Financial Services

Financial services firms–banks, investment advisors, mortgage lenders, credit unions, and others–play a critical and irreplaceable role in the lives of "Joe Consumer." And no wonder. Their services influence the quality not just of our daily lives, but well into the twilight of our years. 

According to the Global Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, consumer trust in financial services has increased by 12 points since 2012, the largest gain among surveyed industries. Despite this upward trend, according to public opinion, financial service firms remain the least-trusted industry sector. That means, when it comes to answering phone calls that appear to be finance-related, our antennae go up.

More than other industries, financial firms rely on the outbound voice channel to improve the customer experience and differentiate themselves from competitors. And, as we continue moving towards digital, self-service communications, outbound calls offer a more personal experience that builds relationships and loyalty.

But, between robocalls, call spoofing, and anti-robocall mandates like STIR/SHAKEN that can mistakenly label calls as spam, or even block them, there’s a big storm brewing for the financial services sector. It’s clear the need for trusted connections and industry-wide collaboration is more urgent than ever. 

If they trust you, they will answer.
Financial services organizations recognize one constant in their customer relationships: trust matters. When you’re dealing with someone’s assets, keeping their trust and protecting their security and privacy are top priorities. Brands lose more than customer loyalty if they falter. 

While the pandemic and social justice movement rage on, trust in institutions is eroding fast. That doesn’t bode well no matter what your sector is. In financial services, where trust reigns as the most important asset an organization can have, it’s time to shore up one of the most valued customer channels you have: outbound calling. 

For financial services enterprises, phone calls are critical to resolve complicated issues, deal with urgent concerns, and share confidential information. The personal, high-touch nature of voice calls provide a way for them to differentiate and elevate their customer experience.  

When we partnered with Forrester Consulting to survey financial services organizations, we asked about the primary barriers to connecting with customers through outbound calls, and the firms identified the following:

  • Spam tagging and mislabelling (59%)
  • Blocked calls (52%)
  • Failure to answer (52%)

Given the combination of robocalls, fraud, and call spoofing, it’s no wonder customers don’t pick up. You can learn more about the unique implications ahead in our white paper: Trusted Call Journey for Financial Enterprises. 

The scammers must be stopped.
There are more than 5 billion robocalls made each month in the US and it’s the #1 cause of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Almost half are fraudulent, leading to a sobering reality: millions are being scammed, and billions are lost, in a world where $1 trillion in consumer spending is influenced by voice calls. That’s staggering. 

Nuisance and unwanted phone calls aren’t the only customer concern: Roughly 40 percent of the unwanted call complaints involve scammers using spoofed, or falsified, caller IDs. By spoofing the caller ID to look like it’s from another number (such as your bank or government agency), people of all ages are being duped. While most scam calls go to mobile phones, one out of four hit landlines as well. 

Here’s the good news. Nearly 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to answer when the caller is known. It’s time to take action to protect your brand and reinforce trust with customers. On way is to take advantage of call display technologies that consumers can trust. 

Fighting the scammers, spoofers, and fraudsters.
As consumer complaints and business losses proliferate, regulators have taken notice and stepped up. With collective effort, federal and state regulations have been enacted to protect us all from the siege of fraudulent calls. The TRACED Act mandated that all voice service providers implement a caller ID authentication framework, known as STIR/SHAKEN, in the Internet Protocol (IP) portion of their networks by June 2021. 

It's likely that some of the frustration felt by financial service firms is related to anti-robocall efforts being deployed by voice service providers. These automated systems are intended to only block illegal robocalls, and work by analyzing call number reputation and calling behavior. But this can result in wrongful call blocking and spam mislabeling. In many cases, enterprises are not even aware that their outbound calls are being incorrectly blocked or tagged as spam.  

The call must get through.
Even in this digital age, where email and chat are more popular communications channels, the phone remains the conduit of choice among consumers. Most people (65% in our study) still prefer phone calls for urgent notifications, or to discuss complex issues or sensitive information. That’s what makes call center operations so vital for the financial services enterprise. Outbound calls are the lifeblood of many firms, and live phone connections are even more important during COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, our study revealed a heavier emphasis on using the phone to connect with customers among financial services firms. Phone calls are needed to solve complicated, often timely issues and share confidential information. Voice calls also provide a way to distinguish services and elevate the customer experience. 

While financial services companies reported that the voice channel is the second most used channel for outbound communication, 61% noted that voice is the most critical to meeting customer service goals. That’s more than double the importance of any other channel cited in the survey. Customer callbacks were given as the number one reason for outbound calls. Making notifications and verifying information were other top reasons. 

It’s no question that low contact rates have an impact on bottom-line results: 

  • A full 57% of financial service enterprises reported that challenges in connecting with customers can increase operational costs, which is notably higher than the average of 48% across all industries
  • When customers miss important calls from their financial service providers, 45% of these enterprises reported increased customer frustration; 34% a loss of customers; and 30% revenue losses 

Paving the way for success.
For financial services firms to close the gap around trust, experts recommend a continued focus on innovations that simplify business operations and improve customer experience while protecting data and assets. 

In spite of all the challenges, your firm can build trust and reliability into the journey from call center to customer. Here are three steps to get you on the right path:

Consider these steps for your path to the trusted call experience. They’re fundamental for the enterprise to achieve higher call answer rates, restore trust with customers, and protect their brands. 

  1. Take this assessment to see where you stand. Gain immediate insights into where your organization is on the trusted call journey and what actions you need to take to improve.
  2. Visit the Trusted Call Resource Center to learn more about how to thrive in the STIR/SHAKEN ecosystem. You’ll find white papers, videos and reports to inform which direction you take.

Our resources and solutions can help you optimize outbound call operations, increase contact rates, improve the customer experience, and protect your brand reputation. We’re ready to help, so visit our Trusted Call Resource Center, and contact us today. 


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