It’s all too easy to focus customer experience efforts and growth strategies exclusively on coaching front-line staff. They are, after all, the most visible part of your team. But the back office needs adequate support, as well. If underwriting is rigid or IT is constantly backed up, you’ll see those problems magnified and expressed in your customer service—and you’ll likely notice a drop in customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between back-office staff members and customer service programs, as well as some potential issues that can negatively affect the customer experience. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to support all of your staff members and ensure a smooth banking process for your customers.
How Does Back-Office Staff Performance Affect the Customer Experience?
Your front-line staff members may be the ones that interact face-to-face, over the phone, or online with customers, but the customer experience is informed by more than just these straightforward interactions. The bulk of the heavy lifting, like data processing, is completed by internal service teams. And when those internal tasks don’t get completed, take too long, or come back riddled with errors, customer perception of your financial institution will suffer. That’s why it’s so essential to ensure that your back-office staff members have the resources they need in order to support customer-facing employees.
One of the most common complaints we hear is that customer-facing employees find themselves in need of a quick answer about a product or service, but they can’t get in touch with the support desk, or the support desk doesn’t have the appropriate sense of urgency. If your back-office staff is telling front-line employees to look up the answer to their question online or providing standardized, unhelpful responses, waiting customers will notice.
Watch Out for These 4 Back-Office Issues
Here are just a few of the common problems that plague internal service teams at financial institutions across the country.
Increasing efficiency and productivity while reducing labor costs is an attractive goal for financial institutions, but the pursuit of efficiency for efficiency’s sake can quickly go too far. Your back-office team needs to remain at a size at which your employees are able to complete all work and process requests in a timely fashion. If your financial institution expands or adds an additional service channel, for example, the team may need to grow in order to meet these new needs.
You may think automating certain processes or digitizing manual paperwork will lighten the burden on your back-office staff, but be sure to have regular quality control checks in place—because you can never predict when an IT program will fail. The last thing you want to do is trace a customer complaint back to an issue with your workflow.
If IT is consistently slow or your mobile banking app is constantly crashing, something needs to change—because these issues will lead to compounded problems down the road. Namely, your banking customers will find themselves waiting on requests to be fulfilled, and your front-office staff won’t have a satisfactory answer as to why it is that they’re still waiting.
Lack of Ownership
Internal service teams play a vital role in the operations of a financial institution, but because back-office employees don’t interact directly with banking customers, they can easily become disengaged. Encouraging all staff members to take ownership and pride in their portion of the banking process is key to creating the best possible customer experience. To that end, make sure to provide appropriate incentives to high-performing individuals, and take steps to provide other employees with the resources they require to achieve similar success.
Slow Processing Times
If it’s simply taking too long for requests to pass through your back office, your customer-facing employees will find themselves at a loss, hapless and helpless to assist their customers. Take steps to identify the possible source—or sources—of this issue.
Underwriting is a major cause of slow processing times. When a loan officer sets one expectation, and underwriting isn’t in sync with that, the customer will be expecting one timeline and getting another. The root cause of these delays will dictate your response, but you may find it helpful to take your findings and evaluate the overall flow of your internal service structure.
Improving Internal Service at Your Financial Institution
Some back-office issues can be hard to identify from the outside. You may find it helpful to take a more in-depth look at your internal teams by running an internal service survey. These types of surveys can take many forms, but at Avannis, we ensure that each internal support group gets a report with feedback on the quality of their service. This report contains both open-ended feedback and key metrics like overall satisfaction, provided by customer-facing staff who interact with these internal service teams.
Once you have a thorough understanding of where your internal service teams excel and where they could use some improvement, you can begin taking steps to improve factors such as performance, ownership, and responsiveness.
Support Every Staff Member With Avannis
Your financial institution likely handles hundreds of transactions and service requests each day. In order to meet and exceed customer expectations, those transactions need to go smoothly—and that takes some help from just about every person on staff. If you’re at a loss as to how you can empower and support your front-line and back-office staff, contact Avannis today. We have the expertise, survey methods, and measurement tools to help your financial institution grow.