Author: RSBP for Central Asia
Date of publication: 23-12-2022
Access: Public

In times during which the financial sector is transitioning to remote and automated processes, the assurance of high-quality client communication channels plays an extremely important role.

This transition requires call centre staff to become remote assistants responsible for supporting clients with a wide range of requests. During the transition period and full-fledged roll-out of new remote services, clients are very likely to encounter an array of issues related to the use of a new app or platform or have questions regarding new services or document requirements. In such cases, the task of financial institutions (FIs) is to help customers adapt to a changing environment.


In times during which the financial sector is transitioning to remote and automated processes, the assurance of high-quality client communication channels plays an extremely important role.

This transition requires call centre staff to become remote assistants responsible for supporting clients with a wide range of requests. During the transition period and full-fledged roll-out of new remote services, clients are very likely to encounter an array of issues related to the use of a new app or platform or have questions regarding new services or document requirements. In such cases, the task of financial institutions (FIs) is to help customers adapt to a changing environment.

Thus, ensuring the smooth operation of a call centre is one of the most pressing issues for many FIs. In this context, more and more questions arise: How do you increase the efficiency of a call centre? How do you manage staff turnover in a call centre? How do you ensure high-quality service provided by call centre employees?, etc.

The answers to such questions lie within a few basic elements that need to be considered before launching a call centre and that must be analysed and improved upon through the monitoring of a call centre’s operations on an ongoing basis.

These elements include:

  • Defining the goal and objectives of a call centre
  • Budgeting and choosing technical solutions (incl. equipment)
  • Proper design of processes and service standards
  • Staff selection and training as well as creating appropriate conditions for effective work

In this article, we will review the basic aspects that directly affect the operation of a call centre. The topics related to staff management are rather extensive, which is why we will focus on these topics in a future publication.

Defining the objectives of a call centre

First, we should define the reasons for establishing a call centre within your financial institution. It is important to avoid generalised statements such as, “To improve the quality of client service”.

Based on the goal(s) determined, the tasks to be assigned to the call centre are identified. More specifically, the tasks describe exactly what the call centre employees will do on a day-to-day basis.

At this point, we need to differentiate a call centre from a contact centre, as they perform different functions. Contact centres use multiple communication channels (e-mail, social media, chats, etc.); however, they focus almost exclusively on customer support via telephone.

Currently, it is recommended to consider integrating the centres and their functionalities. However, this may require additional investments: first, more complex technical solutions; second, pre-formulated tasks and third, a smooth-running call centre. This article is devoted to the first priority, i.e., setting up an efficient call centre or improving the work thereof.

There are several possible areas of responsibility for call centre employees. Therefore, defining responsibilities is the first step in the process of organising an effective call centre for a financial institution.

Based on the specifics of how the calls received are handled, call centres fall into three categories:

  • Centres for inbound calls: These centres receive and process incoming calls and are responsible for providing consultations and resolving client requests. The staff may also provide telemarketing services to existing and potential clients.
  • Centres for outbound calls: These centres are engaged in actively calling customers. Their main goal is to establish contact with potential clients for a follow-up meeting or to make direct sales calls. This type of call centre may also collect client feedback, remind clients about upcoming loan payments, etc.
  • Blended call centres: These centres carry out a combined function and support and implement the goals of the financial institution.

The table below outlines a list of possible objectives and customer groups for each type of call centre within a financial institution:




Customer groups outreach

Examples of possible inquiries /

Task description




1.1 Customer service - product inquiries



Application status, account balance, updating, date of payment, etc.

1.2 Customer service - technical issues



Access to Internet banking, how to fill out an application form for selling currency, etc.

1.3 Consultations on product terms and conditions



Commissions and interest, document requirements, application process, etc.

1.4 Dealing with applications for new products / renewal of a product



If remote applications are permitted by law

1.5 Dealing with applications for products and services (or requests)



Identifying the needs of a client on the phone and making them the best offer to meet their needs

1.6 Handling complaints and resolving conflict situations



Resolution of operative claims and documenting the reasons for complaints



2.1 Telemarketing



Increase visibility, spread information about promotions, special offers

2.2 Telephone sales



Consulting databases to screen leads identified and conclude sales over the phone

2.3 Calls to screen potential customers



Further redirection of suitable clients to an appropriate department

2.4 Calls to screen customers and arrange meetings with potential customers identified



Can be used for applications received through alternative digital channels or cold calls





2.5 Existing customer surveys



Determine the level of customer satisfaction with the quality of service, identify possible improvements in current processes and products

2.6 Potential customer surveys



Learn about customers’ criteria for selecting an FI as well as their priorities, primarily with the aim to assess the FI’s position in the market

2.7 Working with former clients of the FI



Identifying the reasons for client turnover to 1) try to regain the client, 2) improve weaknesses identified





2.8 Supporting existing clients



Reminding clients of payments and expiry dates of current offers, notifying of any changes in the terms and conditions, etc.

2.9 Maintaining contact with existing clients



Informing clients of the latest FI news, determining the current situation of clients, identifying potential demand, cross-selling

2.10 Dealing with arrears (collections)



Typically, at the early stages of default and for small loan amounts


In the financial sector, a call centre can perform quite a wide variety of tasks. The key to success is to determine in detail what functions the call centre already performs or shall perform at your FI in the future and for which groups of clients. This makes it possible to define clear job requirements, purchase the necessary equipment, etc.

For example, the job requirements of employees performing tasks 1.1 (in the table above) will differ significantly from the requirements of employees performing tasks 2.2 or 2.5. Respectively, these differences shall be considered when recruiting and training call centre employees.

If your organisation does not yet operate a call centre, it is possible to begin with basic operations and expand these over time.

It is advisable to avoid situations in which call centre employees have no clear understanding of which inquiries they are responsible for processing and which inquiries should be redirected to specialists from other departments.

In addition, information about the functions selected for a call centre must be communicated to all employees within your financial institution. This contributes to the smooth handling of client requests and helps avoid misunderstandings.

It is common to redefine the responsibilities of a call centre, as well as its organisation, based on changes to operational or strategic goals within your financial institution. Therefore, when planning a call centre and/or when the tasks of a call centre need to be redefined, it is important to consider the expansion capacity as well as upgrade options and make an estimate of the additional resources required to manage the changes.

Budgeting and technical solutions

By defining the call centre’s range of functional tasks, you will be able to make specific requests to specialised companies which provide technical support to call centres. These companies can also help you estimate the workload and staffing requirements.

It is worth paying close attention to this issue, i.e., compare options available and select the option that best suits the needs of your institution. More advanced technical equipment can greatly facilitate the fulfilment of tasks carried out by call centre employees, ensure smooth operation, and thus create a foundation for providing the best service to customers. On the other hand, budget limitations for equipment vary from institution to institution and may narrow the range of choices.

However, it is important to remember that in addition to investing in complex technical systems and relevant software, it is important to invest in appropriate basic office equipment for your team. This includes essentials such as headsets for call centres, computers, monitors, ergonomic chairs, and keyboards that are in constant use during shifts. Creating a comfortable and ergonomic environment lays the foundation for more efficient output.

Hardware and software should offer the following functionalities:

  • Automated call logs
  • Collection and storage of customer data in the database, call history analytics
  • Call distribution
  • Call recording
  • Data processing tools and work schemes of individual operators and the entire centre
  • Sound notification and visual display of information on incoming and missed calls
  • Creating a call queue, call forwarding, activating call waiting mode, and other options for working with calls.

An in-house or outsourced call centre?

In order to optimise expenditures, companies often outsource call centre services; however, this is rather complex when it comes to FIs, as they work heavily with personal data, which is an area that is becoming increasingly more regulated.

In addition, nearly all inquiries made to a call centre are related to an FI’s existing products. To be able to answer these questions, an operator must have access to an FI’s internal systems, which outsourcing companies do not. If a FI uses outsourced call centres, then the business processes must be closely interlinked, and information must be updated.

For this reason, outsourced call centres are most often used to conduct surveys and promotions of new products in the financial sector and only sometimes are they are used for the purpose of debt collection.

To properly equip your in-house call centre, there are a variety of technical solutions currently available in the market. Some offers are quite expensive and include lexico-semantic analysis systems that determine keywords in a client’s request and route the inquiry to the right specialist.

It should be noted that, despite a clear trend towards automation, these types of systems mainly support the processing of routine questions such as “Where is the nearest branch?”. Additional investments in chatbots and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) may reduce the workload of call centre employees by filtering out routine questions and thus make it possible to handle more complex client requests and reduce call waiting times.

Nevertheless, most experts agree that call centre operators should focus on advising clients with regard to complex and urgent issues. Therefore, in addition to automation efforts, FIs should continue to create optimal conditions for operator efficiency, which we will cover in the next section.

Service standards, processes, question-answer base

Without a well-defined set of standards, call centre employees will treat customer requests as they see fit, which may sometimes differ from what the FIs envision. To avoid such situations, it is worth establishing standards: a set of guidelines that call centre operators should follow when interacting with customers.

The standards should be defined in line with the strategy, values, and vision of your financial organisation. There are several options, but in general, call centre service standards include the following:

  • Focus on minimum call waiting time
  • Focus on finding a good solution to an inquiry without having to forward a call
  • Asking the client if they are satisfied with the solution and why
  • Be polite, patient, and friendly
  • Listen actively, use optimal speech speed, articulate clearly

Efficient call centres are made up of more than just telephones and other equipment ─ they run smoothly because they follow an established process. Having processes in place reduces waiting time and helps resolve issues faster, which improves customer satisfaction.

It is recommended that the processes established for your call centre be designed in manner that they can be carried out by your team on a day-to-day basis. Here are some questions that established processes should address:

  • What happens when a phone rings? What do the operators say when they answer a call?
  • In what cases should operators resolve requests themselves?
  • What happens when an operator is unable to answer a question? Who (or what resource) should they turn to?
  • How should agents follow up on customer requests?
  • What happens after a call ends?
  • How is the productivity of call centre employees measured?

It will certainly take time to develop a comprehensive approach that addresses these questions and to develop a clear process for each case. However, this prior work will save you a great deal of time in the future, ensure smooth operation, and reduce the level of pressure on employees.

It is also recommended to create conversation scripts for your call centre employees. Scripts are pre-written patterns that employees follow when talking to a client.

It should be noted that there are many ongoing discussions regarding scripts. Some experts believe that scripts are not the best solution, as a conversation may not develop naturally; furthermore, they argue that a script relieves operators from responsibility to a certain extent and that they no longer feel the need to be flexible and actually think of a suitable solution.

When it comes to sales to VIP clients, we agree with this opinion. However, in general, especially at the initial stages, scripts are the best solution, as they provide an extremely dynamic way of working as well as cover a variety of tasks. To avoid the impression of a “pre-packaged” approach, it is possible to take a few of the measures described below.

To create efficient scripts, work with your entire team ─ from managers to front office employees ─ to identify relevant responses and phrases specific to your financial institution. Form groups for each area that the call centre will cover and have your employees brainstorm what they would like to say in every possible situation. Another approach would be to “shadow” your most successful employees talking on the phone with clients and write down ideas for the script.

Next, when preparing written scripts, practice reading them aloud. This will help you to avoid artificial, unnatural language, which your customers will immediately recognise. Also, make sure that the scripts are flexible and offer a variety of response options. Develop a tree of possible responses and, accordingly, the best response for an operator in every case.

Finally, no matter how well developed your call centre scripts are, they cannot fully predict what customers may say or ask in all cases.

Encourage your team to deviate from the script as needed and to make sure they know as much as possible about your products and services and know where to find an answer quickly if a question or a issue cannot be solved using the scripts.

If call centre employees are unable to answer a question (or the client wants to speak to a higher-level person), establish a process for escalating a customer request. Make sure this process is communicated to your entire team and conduct a few test calls to address any roadblocks or service gaps.

Also, make sure your team is aware of other customer self-service options in your company, such as your website, FAQs, videos, and forums, and ask your employees to share these options with customers as needed.

Creating a base of questions and answers

Creating a knowledge base for call centre employees in financial institutions is often difficult, due to the wide range of issues faced by clients and the nuances of each department.

Customer questions can be related to a wide range of topics: terms and conditions of bank cards, questions on how to fill out certain applications, the methods of calculating interest, the reasons for payments not going through, etc.

Indeed, you can hardly expect that call centre employees can competently provide advice on absolutely every topic in the organisation or resolve all requests without preparation.

Without proper preparation, due to the wide variety of incoming questions, call centre employees will likely forward most incoming calls to front office employees, who in turn may have less time to provide high-quality telephone consultations.

To maximise the autonomous work of call centre operators, it is important to carry out several steps at the preparation stage:

  • Have a clear understanding of which issues can be addressed by your own call centre and which issues can be forwarded to other departments
  • Do not try to cover all possible inquiries, but first focus on one specific area and then gradually add new areas as more experience and knowledge are gained
  • Allocate sufficient time to train team leaders and senior call centre specialists in selected departments, consider the possibility of short-term rotation of front office specialists/representatives of relevant departments in the call centre to support and train employees
  • Compile a database of practical answers to the most frequent questions from each department ─ as comprehensive as possible without references to lengthy instructions and technical documentation
  • If possible, distribute functions within the call centre; in any case, it is important to set up a clear screening algorithm to redirect queries to the right specialist within the call centre or to quickly contact the right specialist from another department (if a client’s question is not covered by the call centre functions)
  • Make a clear list of contact persons regarding specific topics within the FIs and alternative contact persons if the primary contact is not available
  • Make a convenient catalogue of the existing knowledge base
  • Ensure timely communication of any changes and news from all FI departments
  • Provide alternative ways for customers to find answers themselves ─ create a high-quality, convenient system to collect and publish frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the online resources of the FI

Finally, implement a process for recording calls and inquiries from customers by your team for the purpose of regular analysis and the correction of mistakes. Regardless of the type of control mechanism you are using, manual or digital, make sure your team’s call tracking process is coordinated and consistent. Coordination is key when analysing performance, its impact on the business, and aspects that can be improved upon within your call centre.

By properly considering and preparing of the abovementioned elements, you will lay a solid foundation for increasing effectiveness of the call centre within your organisation. Finally, you should regularly review the strategy, objectives, and customer feedback, and take actions for further improvement.