VocaLabs SectorPulse: Financial Services XI

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1 VocaLabs SectorPulse: Financial Services XI January 25, 2008 This Report Covers: Based on data collected during the six months ending December 31,

2 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 1 Introduction VocaLabs SectorPulse reports compare the customer service quality for different companies in the same industry, using data and call statistics from the companies customers. This report is based on data collected between July 2007 and December 31 st, Statistics in this report are computed on a rolling six-month basis. This Executive Summary provides an overview and historical context of some of the key statistics we track on the companies we cover. We do not attempt to discover the root causes for any particular trend or score, or make specific recommendations about how individual companies can improve. Such an analysis would require much more data than what we gather for this product, and a much deeper understanding of the particulars of each company s operations. This report includes data from, though we did not get enough survey responses to issue the company letter grades. Takes the Lead Of the five companies we graded, Bank of America earned the best benchmark scores with a C for Caller Satisfaction and a B for Call Completion. We did not collect enough data to issue letter grades to. However, the data we have falls in the range of a B in Caller Satisfaction and a B in Call Completion. Letter grades are based on a company s relative ranking as compared to all surveys in VocaLabs historical benchmark database, and range from A to D. In this study, raw scores for Caller Satisfaction varied from +2 to +33, and raw scores for Call Completion varied from 66% to 76%. These differences in Caller Satisfaction and Call 385 Customer Responses 121 Customer Responses 963 Customer Responses 73 Customer Responses 139 Customer Responses Caller Satisfaction C C D C 90 Customer Responses Call Completion B D D Insufficient Data B D D Completion are statistically significant, and indicate meaningful variation in the quality of customers experiences from the companies. Changes in letter grades from our previous Financial Services report are: s grades were unchanged with a C in Caller Satisfaction and a B in Call Completion. was also unchanged from our last report, with a C in Caller Satisfaction and a D in Call Completion. dropped from a C to a D in Call Completion, and was unchanged with a D in Caller Satisfaction. improved from a C to a B in Caller Satisfaction, but dropped from a C to a D in Call Completion.

3 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 2 improved from a D to a C in Caller Satisfaction, and was unchanged with a D in Call Completion In our surveys, customer complaints about poor automation and difficulty in reaching a live agent were common. We also saw complaints about the quality of agent skills and training at some of the companies in this report. Process Overview Vocal Laboratories Inc. draws participants for SectorPulse from about 70,000 individuals recruited from across the U.S. and Canada. VocaLabs panelists who are customers of one of the companies included in this study were asked to participate by completing a survey before calling their financial services company s customer service; calling customer service through VocaLabs server to record call statistics; and then completing a second survey after the call. We offered customers different options for their customer service call, corresponding to different regional phone numbers the company operates. Customers were asked to choose between customer service phone numbers for: California Seattle Washington and Idaho The rest of the United States About 80% of survey participants chose the rest of the United States option. The data in this Executive Summary is primarily statistical data from the questionnaires and call statistics, informed by qualitative analysis derived from free response answers. The complete raw data from this study are available by subscription from VocaLabs. Future Reports This will be the last SectorPulse report in the financial service industry. We are ending this product in favor of developing similar comparative survey data collected using surveys of customers who are not members of a consumer panel. We expect to announce this new service later in 2008.

4 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 3 Caller Satisfaction VocaLabs Caller Satisfaction benchmark is based on participant responses to the question, How Satisfied or Dissatisfied were you with your overall experience? The raw score is calculated as the percent of Very Satisfied callers minus the percent of Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied callers. The Caller Satisfaction benchmark can theoretically range from +100 to 100, and negative scores mean that more callers were dissatisfied than very satisfied. The best score in our historical database is +64, and the worst score is -63. The median Caller Satisfaction score is 21. Raw Satisfaction Score Current Caller Satisfaction 0 50 Caller Satisfaction History Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Since the September 2007 report, posted a significant rebound from its yearlong decline, though s similar decline continued. Scores at the other companies did not change to a significant degree. Raw Satisfaction Score

5 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 4 Call Completion VocaLabs Call Completion benchmark is based on the percent of callers who were able to complete the task they set out to do in a single call. It is the percentage of callers who both reported being able to accomplish their goal in the call, and who made only one call during the study. The Call Completion benchmark can range from 0% to 100%. In our historical database, Call Completion scores range from 29% to 94%, with a median of 76%. Only and scored above the median for Call Completion in this report, and this represents a continuation of Bank of America s dramatic improvement over the past year. Historically, financial institutions have performed poorly on this metric. There can be a number of reasons for poor call completion. Confusing automated systems often lead callers to hang up and call right back a problem which is hard to diagnose, since the call center software may not be able to distinguish between a caller who got what he wanted, and one who simply hung up after taking a wrong path. In Single Call Completion 85% 80% 75% 70% 65% 60% 80% 75% 70% 65% 60% 55% Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Current Call Completion other words, the company may be mislead by its own data into thinking that a self-service system is performing better than it actually is. Single Call Completion Call Completion History

6 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 5 Automation Rate Encouraging callers to use self-service systems is a common strategy for reducing the operating costs of a customer service operation, and when done well, it can also lead to an improvement in overall satisfaction and call completion. Our calculated automation rate is the percentage of customers in the study who reported that they did not need to talk to an agent, and also reported completing their task. This customer-centric measure of automation is markedly different than common measures like IVR containment which simply count the fraction of calls that don t go to a live agent. Automation Rate 65% 60% 55% 50% 45% Current Automation Rate We do not issue letter grades for call automation, but the five companies automated between 45% and 62% of callers tasks. had both the highest automation rate and the highest caller satisfaction score, a fact which shows that automating a large fraction of service requests can be consistent with providing high-quality service. 40% 35% 65% 60% 55% 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Automation Rate Automation Rate History

7 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 6 Caller Frustration Many customer service operations intentionally place roadblocks in front of callers attempting to bypass automated systems and talk to a live agent. This can lead to modest improvements in the automation rate, but it also leads to customer dissatisfaction and multiple calls to resolve the same problem. VocaLabs research has shown that difficulty in reaching an agent is very often associated with low call completion scores and poor satisfaction overall. We asked each caller how difficult it was to talk to a live person, and calculated the Frustration Rate as the percentage of callers who reported it was Difficult, Very Difficult, or that they could not reach an agent at all. Callers who reported that they did not need to talk to an agent in other words, customers who used self-service systems are excluded from this calculation. customers were most likely to report having a hard time reaching a live agent. The Frustration Rate ranged from 21% to 48% in this study. Our Frustration Rate calculation is less accurate than most of the other parameters we measure, Frustration Rate 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Frustration Rate History Frustration Rate 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Setp Dec Current Frustration Rate since it is only based on the subset of customers who need to talk to a live customer service agent. Quarterly fluctuations in individual companies Frustration Rate should be viewed with some skepticism.

8 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 7 Average Call Time The Average Call Time is the time it took callers to either complete their tasks or give up. When the same person made multiple calls, we added the call times together in order to provide the most accurate measure of the resources each company spends handling each customer question. This callercentric Average Call Time will differ from the time reported by a company s call center because of our ability to track customers through multiple calls. Average call times among the companies we studied are between three and four minutes, with having the shortest overall call length. Since our calculation includes multiple calls and time spent waiting on hold, the average call time can be driven higher when a company experiences unusually long wait times to reach an agent. Confusing automation and multiple call transfers also tend to drive the average call time up Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Average Call Time (minutes) Current Average Call Time Average Call Time (minutes) Average Call Time History

9 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 8 Customer Loyalty We measured customer loyalty both before and after the phone call by asking study participants how likely they are to move one or more accounts to a different institution in the next year. There were five choices, ranging from Very Likely to Very Unlikely. The loyalty score is the average of all customers responses, with +2 being Very Unlikely to switch institutions, and 2 being Very Likely to switch in the next 12 months. The data shown on this page is based on data collected before the phone call. Loyalty can be influenced by many things, including how satisfied a caller is with his or her service, how many different accounts he or she has at that institution, and the options available from competitors. again posted the lowest loyalty score, with and just above. The fluctuations we observed in loyalty from last quarter are not statistically significant. Comparing s loyalty to traditional banks may not be entirely fair, since occupies a unique niche in online payment, and does not have many viable competitors. Customer Loyalty (pre-call) Customer Loyalty (pre-call) Mar Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Customer Loyalty History 0 Current Customer Loyalty

10 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 9 Reasons for Calling We asked each study participant to provide us the reason why he or she needed to call customer service. Several different options were given to the participants, as well as the opportunity to volunteer more information or a reason other than the ones supplied. The reasons were similar for each company, with the majority of calls in all cases being informational: either to get account-specific information (such as account balance), information about accounts and fees, or locations and hours of branches or ATM machines. presented a unique case, since the company does not have physical branches or its own ATM machines. In s case, the thirdmost-common reason for calling was to transfer money to a different account. Despite this, at all five companies at least 70% of the calls were informational, and we are satisfied that it is reasonable to compare the data on the different companies gathered in this report. The type of call can affect many of the comparisons we make, since some types of calls are naturally more difficult to handle than others. Informational calls like getting an account balance are always going to be shorter and less complicated than transactional calls like resolving a problem or transferring money between accounts. Top Reasons for Calling Get Balance Information (39%) Get Account/Fee Information (25%) Resolve a Fee/Statement Problem (9%) Get Balance Information (50%) Find out Locations or Hours (13%) Get Account/Fee Information (12%) Get Balance Information (48%) Get Account/Fee Information (19%) Transfer Funds (7%) Get Balance Information (51%) Find out Locations or Hours (16%) Get Account/Fee Information (8%) Get Balance Information (55%) Get Account/Fee Information (14%) Find out Locations or Hours (7%) Get Balance Information (60%) Get Account/Fee Information (18%) Find out Locations or Hours (7%)

11 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 10 Common Complaints In the survey after the phone call we provided callers with a free response section where they could volunteer additional information about their experience. Participants offered both positive and negative feedback, and we noted several common complaints across all companies: Can t Use/Understand/Navigate Automated Systems Their automated system is very confusing and difficult with all the security layers that are expected of the customer. They need LIVE PEOPLE It was a little confusing as far as which account number I should enter in the beginning. The voice activated call tree is very frustrating especially when there are children in the room Difficulty in Connecting to an Agent It should be easier to be able to reach a live person without having to answer so many questions to the automated system. I called to ask a simple question and could not get through to a representative. Once I got through the telephone tree I was on hold for quite a long time and never spoke with anyone Decrease hold time. I held for 12 minutes and had to hang up to take another call. Got disconnected during an automatic transfer to the CC dept. - this shouldn t happen. To many menus to listen to and press buttons to get finally to a live person:-( Poor Agent Skills I was put on hold and my phone call was cut off. I was asking about a specific piece of information which I assumed would be known immediately but the person I talked to had no idea what I was asking and had to put me on hold until she got the right answer. Considering the fact that what I asked was about there standard fees for a transaction I thought she should have known the answer right away. Representative did not make any effort to take ownership of my situation. He was not only unenthusiastic, but seemed downright bored and was breathing very heavily into the phone. Instead of doing a little research, he chose to instead file a dispute in hopes that someone else would resolve my problem. I was questioning about currency exchange information. I am going to italy next week and I asked if I can exchange money here at the banking center or it s better for me to withdraw money at ATM in Italy. The customer representive transfered me to three different people and still no answer.

12 SectorPulse Financial Services XI, January Page 11 Conclusion This is the eleventh report we ve issued on the Financial Services industry, and it is clear that there is a lot of room for improving both the caller satisfaction levels and the operational efficiency of call centers in this industry. Some of the companies we studied appear to be trying to force callers to use automated customer service even when it does not meet the callers needs. The net result is frustrated callers, multiple calls to accomplish a single task, general discontent with the experience, and higher operational costs than would be the case with better automation. Industry Recommendations This Executive Summary is not intended to provide specific suggestions for improving the customer service at the companies we cover. That said, there are some suggestions which we think can be generally applied: Improve Automated Systems All the companies we studied have invested in automated systems to help answer routine questions and reduce the call volume for live agents. These systems are generating a significant number of complaints, and should be redesigned to ensure that they are as effective and enticing for callers as possible. We have consistently found that customers prefer to use self-service for routine questions when the automated systems are good enough. The key is improving the quality of the automation to the point where callers prefer it to a live agent. saw relatively few complaints about the quality of the agents themselves (though we did see some), we did see many complaints about how hard it was to get a human on the phone. Financial transactions can be complex and stressful for consumers, so having a human agent readily available is important. Related VocaLabs Products VocaLabs SectorPulse: Financial Services Survey Data Complete survey data from this and/or future studies. VocaLabs SectorPulse: Financial Services Custom Survey Client-defined questionnaire on future SectorPulse studies; data is proprietary to the client. VocaLabs Express Feedback Client-defined ongoing monitoring of a customer service operation with real-time call recordings and survey data. VocaLabs Custom Studies Client-defined evaluation of a customer service operation. VocaLabs Automation Evaluation Client-defined evaluation of a prototype automated system. Fewer Roadblocks to Reach Agents Difficulty in reaching an agent is one of the biggest drivers of poor satisfaction scores, and this problem needs to be attacked through a combination of better automation and proper staffing. While we

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