Most banking service customers pick up the phone when things go wrong. That poses a problem, especially for Tier 2 providers who’ve made minimal investment in offering alternatives. Even when there are other ways of getting in touch, the contact centre continues to be a vital channel, and our research has found that most struggle to deliver service excellence. 

Our analysis of 1,500 customer interactions with 16 Australian banks shows people experience high wait times only to feel like just another number. Even simple enquiries are made to feel complex and, on average, 30 per cent of the time are resolved incompletely or not at all. This compounds pressure on the contact centres as the same customers call back again and again. This is especially problematic when you consider that much of the call volume is termed 'failure demand', where customers are calling because the organisation has failed to do something right. 

Here are some of the ways your organisation can stop failing at failure demand.

Focus on the right metrics

Typically, in contact centres, leaders focus on operational metrics like handle time, where the emphasis is placed on getting customers off the phone, not resolving their issues. This myopic approach is driven by the idea that shorter handling times cost less. But that’s only true if the customer doesn’t call back. Taking a transactional approach, organisations are creating more calls and adding more dollars to their cost to serve. If, instead, the metrics were refocusing on those that matter to the customer, organisations may find they improve efficiency and customer experience along with it. 

Invest in staff to minimise transfers

Many contact centres rely heavily on referring customers or transferring them to local branch staff. Others are dealing with siloed departments, so banking officers don’t have the knowledge, or the power, to resolve enquiries straight away. Being transferred around departments has a uniquely detrimental impact on the customer experience. It goes against some of the key expectations of speed, ease, and feeling valued. Upskilling and empowering contact centre staff would require an initial outlay that would be quickly recouped in customer loyalty and more branch staff capacity.  

Use technology to improve efficiency

While technology shouldn’t ever replace human interaction, it can go a long way in improving efficiency and customer experience. 

It can give access to services quickly, remove departmental silos, and serve key customer information at every touchpoint. Not having to explain the issue every time a customer calls can truly elevate the experience.  

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the banking sector hard, and many contact centres didn’t have the maturity or resourcing to deal with the increased enquiries.  Financial service providers who managed were those focused on the right metric, invested in upskilling their contact centre staff, and used technology to add efficiency. 

But our research showed that no one bank leads in this area. The front position can easily be taken by a provider who’s ready to put the voice of the customer at the centre. 


Chloe has been part of the professional services team within Datacom since 2012, with prior experience in financial services. She has over 10 years' experience in contact centres across frontline leadership and support services roles in government, financial services, and insurance.

Related industries
Financial services
Related solutions
Contact centres Customer experience