AccountNow Raises the Bar on Customer Service with Echopass On-Demand Services
With the U.S. economy reeling — and banks in particular suffering from mortgage and credit woes — AccountNow is enjoying rapid growth by catering to the “unbanked,” the industry term for people without established credit or traditional banking relationships.
Most bankers don’t want anything to do with Matt Montes’ clients, and that’s just fine with Montes. After all, banks’ disdain and disregard for an estimated 40 million U.S. consumers is crucial to sustaining the market that Montes courts as founder and COO of financial services firm AccountNow, Inc.
To view a video on AccounNow, visit http://www.echopass.com/finservices/accountnow.wmv
“Banks ignore these people because, among other things, there’s no opportunity to cross sell products like home loans, car loans, and credit cards,” Montes says. “But they still need the financial security of bank-like services. That’s what we provide, along with truly great service.”
A passion for great service
Considering the way mainstream financial institutions regard and treat AccountNow customers, providing great service might seem like an extravagance. Why put customers on a pedestal when they have so few alternatives to the company’s MasterCard and Visa prepaid accounts, direct deposit paycheck and online bill pay services, online account access, FDIC-insured deposits, money share, and credit building service?
“It’s because we’re a service company,” Montes explains. “Our product just happens to be financial services solutions. We want to raise the bar so high with our customer service that even if our customers went somewhere else, they’d jump back to us due to that service differentiator.”
To establish customer service as a differentiator, AccountNow depends on its customer service agents who staff its call center. The company does not have traditional “brick and mortar” branches, relying instead on its always-accessible hosted, multi-site call center and website to provide all facets of customer service. As a requirement, the AccountNow call center is absolutely state of the art.
Setting the service standard
Using on-demand hosted contact center services from Echopass Corporation, AccountNow answers hundreds of thousands of calls per week. To most cost-effectively manage call flows, staffing, and the needs of most AccountNow customers — inquiries such as account balance, transactions, and pending deposits — approximately 90 percent of customer calls are resolved by a self-service option offered through the Echopass interactive voice response service. A smaller percentage of callers however, reach the 80-plus available agents who are able to quickly answer and handle specific customer queries.
Customers who need to talk with a live person are automatically routed to the most appropriate AccountNow agents. Spanish-speaking customers are routed to multi-lingual agents, and AccountNow partners are routed to agents with the appropriate skills who handle partner relations. Being able to direct the right customer to the right agent with the best skills helps AccountNow resolve most customer questions on the first call. Providing customer records to the agent as the call is delivered allows questions to be answered more quickly, thereby reducing the overall time customers spend on the phone with agents. Collectively, this enhances AccountNow’s customer service, while also reducing costs through higher call center and agent efficiency.
With Echopass on-demand hosted contact center services, AccountNow builds efficiency and reduces the time callers are in queue by simultaneously delivering customer information along with the customer call to agents. “When our agent answers the call, the customer’s account details immediately appear on screen. Armed with customer account information pulled from previous calls, emails, chat sessions, and faxes, our agents are more familiar with each customer and, in turn, more friendly,” says Montes.
“Echopass provides a 30-percent increase in efficiency for our agents,” says Montes. “That means fewer agents can answer more calls without sacrificing the quality of our service. If anything, our service is more focused and getting better, which is contributing to our rapid growth.”
Agents anywhere, on demand
Agent efficiencies aren’t the only advantage AccountNow gains from its call center services from Echopass. Using a strategy called on-demand multi-sourcing, the company has approximately two-thirds of its agents onsite, answering calls from its call center in San Ramon, California. The remaining agents work from remote locations throughout the U.S. All agents, wherever they are, share the same hosted Echopass technology and AccountNow systems.
Multi-site multi-sourcing has enabled AccountNow to quickly grow its agent staff beyond the physical limitations of its call center, while managing those remote agents as if they were working from the San Ramon facility. Supervisors can see statistics, monitor calls, and track as well as report the activities of all agents — remote and onsite — in real time. Such management tools are critical, especially given the security regulations AccountNow and its service providers like Echopass must meet to satisfy Visa and MasterCard.
Just as important, the on-demand contact center services let AccountNow quickly and cost-efficiently adapt to fluctuating or seasonal call volumes. The company reaches the peak of its weekly calls on Mondays and Fridays, when customers’ paychecks are being deposited into their AccountNow accounts. In addition, tax season and the holidays generate seasonal call surges as well. To handle both weekly and seasonal call increases, AccountNow adds agents to its call center staff on demand. When call volumes drop to average levels, the staff is scaled back. This is all possible because of the flexibility of the Echopass service to either scale up or scale down agents on demand — which enables AccountNow to meet its customer service goals and pay only for agents that are actually being deployed.
Montes maintains the trust of AccountNow customers by ensuring call center agents are always available during company business hours of 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. “We were looking for a highly reliable system that was flexible and scalable,” says Montes. “In selecting Echopass, we were impressed by its customer base in financial services, as well as its technology platform and the redundancy and stability of the service.” Echopass is built on Microsoft and Genesys technologies, which means that the AccountNow call center is virtually always on.
“A passion for customer service, today and tomorrow, is a key focus of our business. Many of our customers tell us about the terrible treatment they had received from banks and other financial organizations,” says Montes. “We’ve taken the exact opposite approach, treating the customer as our sole reason for being. Our customer service and our agents have become the voice of AccountNow, and our partnership with Echopass and their call center service, which enables that voice, is critical to guiding our ongoing success.”