Banc Sabadell sees chat as an ally in customer service strategy
In just five months, in the midst of a pandemic, Banc Sabadell managed to launch the chat channel and, later, optimize it by integrating Zendesk, for the first time, with an intelligent virtual assistant.
"The chat channel, with the AI-based virtual assistant, has helped us implement our strategy to direct the customer to the most efficient service channels, which allow self-service to resolve queries."
Jose Juan Martinez Auñón
Director of Customer Service Platforms and Conversational Banking at Banc Sabadell
“Zendesk has the potential to be the tool that centralizes the entire service model of the written channel between our clients and the bank, and this includes both servicing service and service from offices. It is valued positively in our application architecture map as an important piece in our strategy.”
Director of Customer Service Platforms at Banc Sabadell
Average chat contacts monthly
Service rate with virtual and human agents
Conquering an exponential increase in inquiries with chat support
Banc Sabadell, founded in 1881 and belonging to the IBEX 35, is one of the main banking groups in the Spanish financial system. It is currently present in 14 countries and has commercial banks in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. Its business model is based on a customer-focused service strategy, with a firm commitment to digitization.
The decision to close bank branches that was determined during the outbreak of COVID-19 was a great challenge for all banking entities. In the case of Banc Sabadell, this global health situation led its managers to think about enabling a digital contact alternative for its customers. This move was intended to relieve pressure on the telephone channel which, with the closure of the branches due to the pandemic, was going to experience an exponential growth in contacts. Thus, it was decided to implement a chat channel enabled on the bank’s website and App.
Setting up an operational channel “against the clock”
The option of carrying out this project with Zendesk was proposed as the most agile and easy, since the bank agents who tended the social networks already used the Zendesk service platform. The goal was for customers to be able to manage their queries autonomously and for agents to become familiar with the tool.
In this way, users had the option of asking their questions and receiving answers through a series of FAQs trained by Zendesk. In case of not finding the right answer, customers could always solve their inquiries with the help of an agent.
“We managed to get the chat up and running, in a record time of six months, also taking into account the extremely complex situation that existed in 2020 due to COVID-19. It started with 20 agents and we managed to reduce the impact of closing the offices,” says Marta Amo, Director of Customer Service Platforms.
A friendly tool with ease of use pleases agents
Essentially, Zendesk became the chat back office for managers. It was shown to be a tool with good functions at the operational level, which made it possible to quickly automate the resolution of queries, which was a priority objective.
In addition, Zendesk’s ease of use has had a positive impact and reception from agents. “The workspace is friendly despite the fact that it can be complex to handle, for example, three chats at the same time. Especially if we think that it was a challenge for agents to serve a customer through a written channel in real time. This commitment meant a huge change in mentality, but it turned out very well,” says José Juan Martínez, Director of Customer Service Platforms and Conversational Banking.
Another added capability that the tool offers for managers is that they can also consult the FAQs developed for clients, if needed. The FAQs are accessible to them in a database in case of questions that may arise.
Throughout the process of creating the chat channel, the help that Zendesk provided to organize the FAQs and generate better quality content was really important. However, it was found that the client was not always able to find what they were looking for, especially if they did not use some of the keywords included in the FAQs. In fact, between 40 to 50 percent of the chats that started at the beginning of the implementation ended up being referred to a human manager.
“To avoid this we needed to work with an algorithm that we could train and customize to our own clients, operations, and products. The problem is that we needed to provide Zendesk with capacity based on artificial intelligence,” recalls José Juan Martínez.
Interoperability of Zendesk technology
To solve this situation, work has been completed to include an intelligent virtual assistant with the capacity to learn through a reference cognitive platform. “An integration like this between Zendesk and a cognitive platform had never been done before, which for us was another important milestone. In fact, an ad hoc piece was manufactured for this integration, which we have been able to put into production this year with quite good acceptance by users,” says Juan José Martínez.
Currently, the rate of customer satisfaction in the use of the chat channel has increased substantially.
One point that has influenced this and that allows for speeding up responses is that the Zendesk tool collects all the information related to the client’s unsolved requirement. In this way, when the contact is transferred to a human agent, he or she has all the information available at a glance.
What awaits the digital customer
“In the first half of 2022, we have dedicated ourselves to building a more mature and robust model and detecting how to improve the customer experience and the usability of the chat channel. We work with an assistant that is becoming more and more intelligent as it interacts with clients and learns about their daily reality,” Marta Amo explains.
Having a channel with these characteristics allows Banc Sabadell to direct its digital customers to the chat to solve their issues in an autonomous and agile way. “The bank’s strategy is to refer most customers to the self-service model in the written channel, while safeguarding groups such as senior or large clients.
In order to develop more options for digital clients, those responsible for Banc Sabadell want to provide the chat assistant with transactional capacity, which has a complete vision of all the channels with which the client can interact. “Let’s imagine that a client is making a transfer and the system gives an error. In this case, the virtual assistant should be able to show you what the problem is, if, for example, it is because you do not have a balance or because the transfer is higher than your allowed limit. Right now, we are defining how to create all the architecture that allows us to carry out these processes,” says José Juan Martínez.
Future commitment to Zendesk
To get to this point, the use of the Zendesk tool has been important, especially in the management of social networks and in the chat channel. This has allowed Banc Sabadell managers to better understand the possibilities that Zendesk technology offers them in other processes.
In this sense, it should be noted that Zendesk is already being implemented in other important bank business processes, such as digital registration. Here it is used as an integrative tool with the back office units.
Zendesk was chosen because the team that has to supervise the digital registration to validate it is the same one that attends the chat. In this way, the productivity of agents is maximized while facilitating the work of employees who have their procedures in a single tool.
This initiative, which is already underway, is joined by others in the process of analysis, some of them in a fairly advanced phase. Going forward, the bank’s commitment to Zendesk is firm. “We want it to be one of the solutions that forms part of the centralization of all the back office tasks of the customer service teams and this poses great opportunities for the future,” concludes José Juan Martínez.