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CFPB and Beyond: How Big Data is Improving Customer Service

8th Sep 2016
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We may have put the subprime mortgage crisis behind us and the housing market has certainly begun to rebound, but the financial sector is still dealing with an issue of its own: a diminished reputation. Simply put, subprime lending and other troubling practices have resulted in a real lack of trust between finance professionals and their clients. The industry is in need of a facelift – and big data can help.

Improved data collection practices make it easier than ever for companies to provide top-notch customer service, and that includes the finance industry. If your company is looking to regain its standing as a brand customers can believe in, here are three steps you can take today.

Offer Help Upfront

Do you know what frustrates customers the most? When they need help but can’t figure out how to get it. The majority of customers seeking help from a company find that they need to use at least two contact channels before receiving a response, and 44 percent think that companies intentionally make it difficult for customers to seek assistance.

If you want customers to trust your company, the best thing you can do it be responsive. Offer multiple means of contact, but focus on rapid problem solving – that means offering a contact timeline and sticking to it. In an era that emphasizes immediacy, it can also be beneficial to offer an on-site chat option that customers can use to speak directly to a representative. This is one of the most popular methods of customer service today.

Make CFPB Work for You

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the organization responsible for consumer privacy protections and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), among other key finance concerns. Under the CFPB, banks and other finance institutions involved in housing transactions are required to encrypt personal data and ensure transparent interactions; failure to do so can result in large fines and payouts to wronged consumers.

This may make the CFPB sound distinctly anti-finance in its workings, but you can use the data collected by the CFPB to improve your customer service. The CFPB maintains a public Consumer Complaint Database online and it’s updated daily with information regarding different consumer issues and resolutions as provided. Just because it’s designed with consumers in mind, though, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize it.

Spend some time looking at what types of complaints customers are registering, including what issues are particularly common, and note how other companies respond. By preemptively incorporating this knowledge into your business practices, you can keep your company out of the database.

Be Big, Act Small

In the past, people worked with community banks, and because they had personal relationships with service providers, these providers had an easy time determining what the most appropriate financial services were for that individual. Through regular interactions, banks could gauge what services were most appropriate.

Today, credit unions continue to have close relationships with members that make them unlike other financial institutions, but credit unions are also much smaller than the majority of banks. While they may be able to ascertain what clients need without data mining, that often isn’t true for other companies – and that’s where analytics come in.

By engaging closely with consumer data, financial institutions can determine when customers are likely to make certain purchases or require a particular service. Based on the data, these big institutions can offer appropriate services, timed to their clients’ needs. At a time when customers want personalized service without the personal interaction, this can give companies a real edge.

The path to regaining consumer trust is a long one, but financial companies have the tools on their sides to make it happen. By focusing on customer service and doing what’s best for their clients, financial companies can reposition themselves as partners and not opponents.

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