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​CHALLENGE

Single point of contact for business banking customers

​Operating for over 150 years in South Africa, Standard Bank South Africa (SBSA) is one of the country’s largest financial services groups and operates in 32 countries around the world. Employing over 48 000 people, Standard Bank’s core objective is to secure its position as the leading Africa-focused financial services organisation – differentiating itself through its people, who are passionate about growth and service excellence. 

The billion-dollar group operates across three main business units that include: Personal and Business Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking and Wealth – Liberty, and has close to 1300 branches across the African continent. Serving a sizeable business banking customer base, SBSA needed a scalable contact centre that would provide a single point of contact to its business banking customers, and provide a consistent, easy and effective service. By removing the need for customers to use branch services, the bank was focused on finding a solution that would reduce costs and optimise customer service levels. 

Its aims of consolidating business banking support through a contact centre and online banking meant that the new centre would need to provide a consistent high quality service, and be underpinned by a robust business case to drive efficiencies. 


 

Scalable operations to support business growth 

The outsourced operation would need to be highly scalable to meet with the demands of SBSA’s consolidation strategy. At the same time, the contact centre would have to be flexible enough to manage continued growth, while ​supporting numerous customer business requirements. The new centre would also need to be operational within a short period of time. Along with designing, building and operating the contact centre, SBSA Business Banking needed the support of a partner that could enable its future goal of merging and transferring the contact centre operation back into the organisation. 


 

Transform service delivery, improve MI and add value

Early discussions revealed several challenges in the delivery of support to business banking customers. Traditionally, customers would either phone or visit their personal banker who was based in a local branch. With no dedicated response centre for business banking, SBSA’s new outsourced contact centre operation would need to address concerns such as:

  • Customer uncertainty about changing their traditional means of interaction 

  • Unknown customer service and resolution levels 

  • Limited insight into customer satisfaction and retention levels

To transform the business banking service into a single customer touch point, SBSA needed a partner with experience in delivering a consistent, high quality service, with appropriately skilled people, a supportive environment and the expertise to drive great customer experiences. At the same time, SBSA Business Banking was focused on generating additional value by being able to reduce overheads and free branch staff to focus on sales and retention. For Merchants, this would mean that the innovative contact centre design would have to match SBSA’s priorities for quality service, reduced costs and improved management information, and be underpinned by a well-defined service level agreement​


 

​​​Since its inception, the contact centre operation has nearly tripled in size in line with the bank’s business strategy to provide a consolidated customer service and acquisition channel for business banking customers.​

​SOLUTION

Comprehensive contact centre outsource

​By presenting an outsourced contact centre solution which incorporated world-class facilities, along with the right blend of skills, training and efficient process​es, Merchants was awarded a three-year contract to manage the planning and design, building and operation of SBSA’s Business Banking contact centre.

On award of the contract, the Merchants team set out to source and build a fully hosted and managed response centre. With the exception of Standard Bank’s IT and Wireless Area Network, Merchants managed the recruitment and training of 44 agents, 11 level two agents, 33 level one agents and 4 Team Leaders in two months, and the installation of the facility infrastructure. Located in Johannesburg’s CBD, the design and build of the BizDirect Response Centre was completed in two months. 


 

Expanded servi​ces through a scalable, single point of contact 

Since its inception, the contact centre operation has nearly tripled in size to 120 agents in line with the bank’s business strategy to provide a consolidated customer service and acquisition channel for business banking customers. Providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ service for business banking customers, the migration away from the costly branch channel to a more efficiently resourced contact centre is being supported by consistent, high quality service delivery. 

Centre services include inbound and outbound lines, email support for general queries including balance and statement requests and tracing of payments. Cross-sell opportunities, particularly within self-service channels, are identified and passed on to sales agents. Outbound campaigns include surveys, sales campaigns and support for direct marketing campaigns, regulatory c​​alls regarding company registrations and retention. Company registrations are done through Merchants’ Companies and Intellectual Property Commission contact centre. 

In helping to migrate business banking customers away from branch networks to a more efficient contact centre channel, branch-based business bankers are now free to focus on sales and retention. 


 

Process optimisation and support for future transfer

To support SBSA’s customer change management process, Merchants continues to assist with integration challenges between the bank’s back office functions and processes as it adapts to a new business model. Merchants is committed to SBSA’s transformation journey and ultimate aim of transferring the operation back to the bank at a future date. To support this process, the team is helping to identify opportunities for further efficiencies by providing recommendations to help streamline processes for a smooth transition in the future. To date the team has already identified the 70 most common call types and areas for optimisation.​​


 

​RESULTS

Recruitment and training of 92 staff in two months

To support SBSA’s customer change management process, Merchants continues to assist with integration challenges between the bank’s back office functions and processes as it adapts to a new business model. Merchants is committed to SBSA’s transformation journey and ultimate aim of transferring the operation back to the bank at a future date. To support this p​rocess, the team is helping t​​o identify opportunities for further efficiencies by providing recommendations to help streamline processes for a smooth transition in the future. To date the team has already identified the 70 most common call types and areas for optimisation.​​​

Optimised processes, reduced load on bank branches

Merchants’ fully scalable and flexible outsourced centre manages large volumes of customer support queries in line with the bank’s strategy to redirect customers away from its branch network.  By offering greater business flexibility, the team is able to offer support to other internal stakeholders through its effective process management and experience in managing complex operations.​


 

Comprehensive build and design of 150-seat contact centre

With the exception of the IT infrastructure and WAN provided by Standard Bank, Merchants has provided all aspects of the outsourced centre including a fully hosted and customised managed facility with a capacity of 150 seats in the city centre, within two months.


 

Improved service, increased lead conversion

In transforming SBSA’s business banking service, the new sustainable and scalable centre has delivered against the bank’s goals of providing a more cost effective channel and consistently high service levels. Working in close partnership, the overall customer experience has improved over the past two years, and first contact resolution has risen by 100%. With inbound call volumes growing by 400% over the past two years, the nu​mber of agents has more than tripled. Despite this rapid growth, overall service metrics remain consistent with a lead conversion rate of 36%. 

To maintain its competitive edge through service, customer experience surveys confirm customer approval of the way in which calls are managed. Specifically, results show customers are satisfied that contact centre agents are helpful and polite in resolving their queries effectively. ​​


 

 

​CHALLENGE


 
  • Design, build and operate scalable business banking contact centre 
  • Provide single point of contact to customers and reduce load on branches 
  • Drive added value through optimised processes, reduced costs and increased sales 
  • Improve quality of customer experience through consolidated service channel 

 

SOLUTION 


 
  • Scalable business banking response centre in operation within two months 
  • Consolidated contact centre operation offering expanded services
  • Process optimisation, future transfer 
  • Comprehensive outsource underpinned by Design, Build, Operate, Transfer (DBOT) strategy 

 

RESULTS


 
  • First contact resolution up by 100%, despite inbound >400% call volume growth
  • Ramp up in front line staff from 44 to 120 in one year
  • Design, build and go live within two months
  • Most inbound service metrics met in first year 
  • 36% lead conversion rate to boost sales 
  • Improved management information, optimised processes​