Riggs Bank Boosts Sales Through Customer Service Call Center

Riggs Bank, a regional commercial bank serving the Washington area, doubled the sales generated by its call center after implementing a system that connects phone service representatives to a database of customer histories. In the next few months, the bank will seek to further capitalize on this rules-based automation by applying similar systems for its outbound telesales program.

The bank, which has 53 branches in the region, installed an automated customer relationship management system in its call center about a year ago to compete better against many of its larger rivals, according to Jeff Glynn, senior vice president and manager at the Riggs Bank customer service and Direct Bank operations.

“We were faced with the challenge of competing with Bank of America and First Union, which have branches on every corner downtown,” he said. “What we determined was that we can’t really compete with those folks on volume or number of branches. We need to do it with service or through alternative channels.”

The bank worked with Pegasystems Inc., Cambridge, MA, to develop a CRM solution that connects service representatives in its inbound call center with a database of customer account information. When agents receive a call from a customer, a view of the customer’s account history appears on the computer screen, along with a dialog manager box that helps agents recommend additional bank products based on the customer’s account history and status.

“We wanted to transform our business from an inbound, retail call center into a sales-proactive marketing center,” said Glynn. “We take 3,000 calls a day, and those calls provide us with opportunities to build and expand relationships with our customers.”

When the bank’s service agents, who work in three teams of 10 to 12 agents each,

find a customer interested in obtaining additional services from the bank, they transfer the

call to representatives in the sales arm of the call center, where the licensed sales agents can sign up customers for additional products.

Referrals to this group from the service side have increased substantially since the new system has been in place, Glynn said. And the number of referrals that have resulted in closed sales has doubled in the year since the program began.

Now the same types of rules-based marketing will be applied to outbound telemarketing.

“Right now we’re in the process of automating all of our outbound calling for our outbound group,” Glynn said. “Today, we plop the list down, we manually dial and keep track of the log.”

He expects that automating the decisioning process for outbound calling will further improve the call center group’s efficiency by ensuring the right customers receive timely, follow-up phone calls. The bank is developing its own automated dialing system inhouse and is expanding its outbound staff to handle the new outbound telesales system.

Along with the suggested cross-selling and upselling prompted by the screen pops in the inbound center, the bank implemented some more automation into the system that is speeding up some of its basic processes – such as stopping payment on a check or transferring funds – that required more paperwork and involved more personnel.

Although the original projections called for a decrease in talk times, the average time agents spend on the phone with customers in the inbound center has actually remained same, as agents now invest more time with customers discussing other banking service opportunities, Glynn said.

“Things that used to take three minutes take less than a minute now, so it really gives us more time to try to expand the relationship,” said Glynn.

“People on our teleservices side are spending more time looking at the screen, talking with the customer, doing a little probing, uncovering their needs and getting them over to the sales side of the organization. The time we took away from manual procedures has come back on the sales side.”

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