Managing E-Mail and Webchat-It's Becoming Every Bank's Virtual Point of Pain

By Bielski, Lauren | ABA Banking Journal, June 2000 | Go to article overview

Managing E-Mail and Webchat-It's Becoming Every Bank's Virtual Point of Pain


Bielski, Lauren, ABA Banking Journal


Whether you're a dot-com de nova or an established big bank with a transactional website, you've likely felt the same pain when it comes to customer service.

The pain comes from volumes of customer e-mail that's snaking its way into your organization daily, even hourly, with a serpent's single-minded intent. Like a sinewy reptile that wants only to strike its target, your customers' e-mail steadily arrive with the sole purpose of getting an answer.

Of course, any bank worth its URL wants to get feedback from its customers or to address a problem with an account. The challenge: how to manage--identify, prioritize, route, respond to, or escalate when needed--the sheer volume of communication slithering into your e-mail queue.

For institutions the size of Citibank, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, managing rising volumes of e-mail or communications coming from newer webchat (e.g., written communications or voice signal carried over the Internet from websites) channels is already the norm, says Tom Lynn, executive vice-president of Quad Co., a consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. For the last year or more, he estimates, about 25 to 30 of the largest 50 U.S. banks have piloted or rolled out off-the-shelf or internally developed systems designed to route and present e-mail to agents analogous to the way that interactive voice response (IVR) units manage incoming phone calls. "In the United Kingdom, we work with one large institution that handles all of its customer service issues out of a call center in Dublin," Lynn says. "Managing web chat and e-mail along with phone calls is routine practice there today."

But before the routine set in, there was, well, pain. And banks that are just coming online with transactional websites might learn from the trials of early adopters. Typically, banks evolve by first handling e-mail as a distinct channel from voice traffic. They might hire a few agents dedicated to "picking off" e-mail questions -- one by one, in no particular order. To track e-mails and action taken on them, these agents might rely upon a spread-sheet. To track how quickly, in general, the e-mail is being answered they might rely upon memory.

This approach might let a bank get by--for a while. And also, it can work well for addressing routine or frequently asked questions (FAQs), because canned responses can essentially be written once, and repeatedly issued.

But soon enough, a manual approach begins to cause almost as many policy and compliance problems as it solves. Or it simply isn't fast enough to keep pace. That's bad news for a bank.

But, if you'll permit us one more use of our analogy, a boa constrictor can be tamed into something as harmless as a garden snake if handled. E-care, or virtual customer care systems, for example, purport to do their part by automating much of the process of responding to customer inquiry. Well-trained customer service reps can handle the rest of the non-routine stuff by working as either as 1. universal agents that handle all forms of in-bound communication (e.g., voice, voice over Internet, or webehat, email, etc.), in queue, or 2. agents that specialize in phone calls or electronic communications.

Many banks are taking the first step by considering their options. In a recent study on call centers by the ABA, for example, 12% of the 454 respondents indicated that, e-mail automation response software either had been purchased or was soon to be on their shopping list.

Before bankers sign on the dotted line for new software, however, they need to keep in mind all of the now-conventional wisdom about call centers.

This includes: 1. the desktop equipment of agents should be integrated with all the back office silos of data in order to present both management and agents with the most complete view of the customer; 2. agents should make use of all relevant customer data (both historical and transaction-based) in real-time to assist them on a call, preferably with some sort of screen pop technology; 3. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Managing E-Mail and Webchat-It's Becoming Every Bank's Virtual Point of Pain
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.