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  • Jamie Shanks

How Bank of America Executes Its Voice of the Customer Program

Holly O’Neill has a few stakeholders to care about in her role as chief client care executive and head of consumer client services for Bank of America. The bank has 66 million customers, which includes 38 million digital users. Customers can also walk into any of the 4,300 financial centers.

How do you manage customer experience (CX) in that role? You listen, you learn and you act.

“Our main goal and really where we've shifted pretty significantly over the last few years is really trying to put our 66 million clients in the middle of everything we do,” O’Neill said in an interview with CMSWire about her CX priorities and voice of the customer strategies. “The biggest improvement opportunity and the biggest driver is really culture. How do you put clients at the center? And for us, it really goes hand in hand with our teams and how we invest in our people. It’s also core to our strategy, which is high-tech, high-touch.”

O’Neill said her customer experience teams rely on CX technologies that enable voice of the customer programs as well as inter-department collaboration featuring multiple teams such as digital, consumer groups and human resources.

The Customer Experience Conundrum

CX remains challenging, though. And banking is no exception. The Kony Digital Experience 2019 Index Survey found that organizations have invested over $4.7 trillion in digital transformation projects but that only 19% of consumers report any significant improvement in the experiences that their banking, retail utilities or healthcare providers offered them.

Customer retention is often a major component for most successful businesses, and one of the key ways to keep customers happy is to have frequent communication with them, according to Whitney Kane, director of client services for TopSpot Internet Marketing.

“In particular, this means being proactive in communicating with clients,” she said. “Reactive communication does not count in our employees' communication KPIs, because anyone can respond to an email or an incoming phone call. Great customer service includes communicating early and presenting information in a clear manner.”

CX Technology Paves the Way for Insights

One of the major ways Bank of America keeps in contact with clients is through listening mechanisms. O’Neill told CMSWire the company deploys 90 million surveys per year and has a response rate of about 13 to 15 million. Bank executives and team members get access to survey results virtually in real-time using their customer experience management system.

Certainly, though, deployment of the new tool wasn’t easy. It took about a year to implement, O’Neill said. According to the 2020 CMSWire State of Digital Customer Experience report, technology and platforms leave room for improvement: 30% pointed at technology limitations as a key challenge to delivering great customer experiences. “This leaves significant room for evolution, new market entrants and an appetite for integration services to help bridge the gap," according to the report.

However, Bank of America found the light in its CX technology implementation because it has since empowered employees with useful insights from customer feedback. It’s led to things like better alert systems, easier methods of filing fraud claims through the mobile app and online instead of a phone call, and higher limits for transferring money through its Zelle app.

“Systemically those surveys go back directly to the people that delivered the service,” O’Neill said. “They go back to the teams in the financial centers, in the contact centers, with our underwriting teams, with our mortgage team .… So the system itself is really nimble. That’s one of the elements that attracted us to it because we were doing surveys before, but it was many different survey tools and systems. It was very fragmented and very delayed. So it would be weeks before the business got the information, and people wouldn’t remember what the interaction was.”

CX Road Leads to Employee Experience Wins

The ability to better serve customers also means a better employee experience, O’Neill said. It gives employees more timely and relevant information that's action-oriented.

“We’re using technology to make our teams as informed as possible,” she said. “It’s a tool that we use to get data on what our clients think; that's number one. And number two, it puts that data and information in the hands of over 70,000 people in our business so that they can react in real time. It gives them the ability to react and improve or react and continue doing exactly what they're doing.”

Happy employees give a much better experience to customers, O’Neill said. “So, engagement of our employees is mission critical," she said.

The bank surveys employees after they've done a training or after they've participated in a leader session, for example. It’s a way they can learn what their employees are thinking and then respond.

“We're using very similar principles to what we did with clients for our teammates,” O’Neill said. “We actually sent a survey out recently, and and it was really enlightening with great information coming back. We’re looking to see what the information tells us, what can we improve, how do we need to prioritize? And then, how do we execute on doing things easier and better for our teammates.”

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