Insider Intelligence forecasts that call center penetration will remain slightly elevated from 2019 levels (28.7%) through 2024, but only after dropping from a spike in 2020. (Penetration is defined as the percent of US bank account holders ages 18 and over who call their bank, credit union, credit card, or brokerage institution at least once per year.) The sustainability of the trend will depend on how long the pandemic remains a significant threat and impediment to everyday life. If the US fully reopens bank branches and businesses in the coming months, the shift to more efficient digital customer service tools could accelerate.
Better mobile customer service tools will likely eat into call center usage. Such app-based features include the ability to message with live agents or ask questions of AI assistants in the mobile app. Those features aren’t currently widespread, even among the 25 biggest US banks: Only 36% and 40% of those institutions support chatting with humans and AI assistants via mobile app, respectively, per Insider Intelligence’s 2020 US Mobile Banking Competitive Edge (MBCE) Study. And the currently available AI assistants aren’t the best equipped to handle more complex inquiries, keeping help lines essential for now. But as banks’ mobile offerings evolve, the need to contact a call center will drop.
Because call centers will remain a vital customer service channel, banks should look to maximize their efficiency and streamline the user experience. Here are two ways they could achieve this: