Saying “Welcome,” 600,000 ways every month

Saying “Welcome,” 600,000 ways every month

 

On a typical day, a typical Huntington phone bank colleague will field 80 to 100 customer service calls, answering questions simple — “What’s my balance?” — and dizzyingly complex — “Can you explain these financial instruments or business accounts?” Anthony Lobello, senior vice president, phone bank director, wanted to ensure callers knew Huntington values every query.

On a typical day, a typical Huntington phone bank colleague will field 80 to 100 customer service calls, answering questions simple — “What’s my balance?” — and dizzyingly complex — “Can you explain these financial instruments or business accounts?” Anthony Lobello, senior vice president, phone bank director, wanted to ensure callers knew Huntington values every query.

“We try to get 30 customer surveys per banker, per quarter,” Lobello said, “and one of the questions we ask is, ‘If you had the opportunity to speak to the banker that you just spoke to, would you do so again?’ It’s a question that really drives home the importance of giving your best on every call.

“We’re averaging right at 90 percent of customers saying, ‘Yeah, I would speak to that banker again.’ So we’re making those customers feel welcomed. I know that might sound corny, but to us it’s very important.”1

Together, Lobello, based in Columbus, Ohio, and Kathy Jipping, site manager in Holland, Michigan, oversee the more than 500 full-time colleagues at Huntington’s two phone bank locations. Phone bank colleagues aim to spend 89 percent to 93 percent of their eight-hour shifts taking calls. With the Columbus phone bank operating around the clock and the Holland team on the job from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, Huntington receives almost 600,000 customer calls per month.2

Jipping said there are two keys to staffing the phone bank. The first is finding the right people — colleagues who are comfortable with technology, can thrive in a fast-paced environment and are willing to learn all they need to know to answer customers’ questions confidently.

The second key is training those bankers effectively. At multiple points during their six-week onboarding, immersion in the Huntington brand’s heritage and history helps newly hired bankers bring the brand’s “Welcome” position to life in every call. Also, the banking knowledge and communication skills essential to the job are broken down to make them easier to digest and deploy.

“We have a unique approach to training that we call modularization,” Jipping said. “The bankers are taught a set of skills, then given a chance to take calls and practice those skills. Then we take them up another level.”3

Lobello said the sophistication of Huntington’s phone bank technology enables such training.

“In the old days, you’d take people through up to 12 weeks of training, and then get them on the phone,” Lobello said. “People were often overwhelmed trying to get through just the first few months. Now, based on our routing capabilities, we can literally train someone for four or five days … and because of the way we can slice and dice the call types, I can send you very basic calls on what I just trained you.

“You can take calls for a couple days, come back to class, learn something else, then go take calls just on that,” Lobello said. “It really builds confidence.”4

Apart from the 90 percent customer approval rating, Huntington’s phone bank has succeeded in retaining employees — often a bane for organizations with customer contact centers.

“We want to create a good culture of support,” Jipping said. “We’ve got a strong commitment to making our bankers feel successful.”5

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Huntington’s two-step training program has yielded a call center with a 90 percent customer approval rating.

 

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A Huntington phone bank customer service colleague will typically field 80 to 100 customer calls per day.