This case study tells the story of how Alfa-Bank Kazakhstan moved its customer support to WhatsApp and cut costs during the pandemic.
Maintaining quality customer service and quickly scaling the contact centre in an emergency
For the past 18 months, Alfa-Bank Kazakhstan has been working on digitalizing their banking services. This includes providing customer support over chat apps.
A key priority of their strategy in 2020 was moving all retail banking support services over to chat apps. Although management planned on meeting this goal by the end of 2020, their hand was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact centre requests doubled following the government-mandated quarantine in March 2020. As a result, Alfa-Bank required additional specialists to maintain service quality.
Additionally, a work-from-home solution became an immediate necessity. However, the existing telephone-based platform could not scale quickly enough to adapt to the new reality.
Alfa-Bank made the decision to abandon calls and move over to WhatsApp as their main customer support channel.
Moving Contact Centre Support to WhatsApp
Having already launched WhatsApp Business API in the fall of 2019 with Infobip, Alfa-Bank was positioned to quickly adapt.
By February, 50% of customer support requests came over WhatsApp, thanks in part to Alfa-Bank’s promotion of the channel.
In addition to that, nearly 70% of mobile users in Kazakhstan have WhatsApp installed on their devices. A bank survey even showed that 99% of their clients use WhatsApp.
The number of contact centre agents grew from 110 to 200, together handing nearly 250,000 monthly customer queries.
In April, Alfa-Bank entirely phased out call contacts, moving the entire contact centre team over to chats.
Internal resource allocation aided this rapid growth, as bank employees at closed branches transferred to customer support. Here, they quickly learned how to work in the contact centre, thanks to the simplicity of chat apps.
While customers expect immediate responses during support calls, contact centre agents using chat apps can consult with colleagues or scripts. This helps even new agents provide excellent customer service.
Promoting the WhatsApp customer service channel helped clients anticipate the transition. Alfa-Bank advertised the move on their website, bank cards, posters, and leaflets – even removing customer service hotline numbers from these.
To support the WhatsApp initiative, Alfa-Bank built an IVR menu that would let bank clients choose to receive an SMS containing a link to the WhatsApp chat. This campaign resulted in 15,000–20,000 monthly WhatsApp requests from bank clients in the period leading up to the quarantine.
Switching the contact centre to remote mode helped Alfa-Bank Kazakhstan to maintain high-quality customer service under extraordinary circumstances.
Agents were processing up to 130 requests per day – an increase of 15%.
Customer service over WhatsApp cost the company 30% less than the telephone alternative. This is because the monthly fee is based on the number of monthly active users.
In addition, agent quality improved thanks to the ease of monitoring chats compared to calls.
Thanks to this, contact centre managers could provide more targeted and improved coaching opportunities for their agents.
Alfa-Bank Kazakhstan is considering further strategic development of the contact centre and digital channels – namely, WhatsApp for the corporate banking market.
While a complete shift from telephony to chat app customer service isn’t likely, Alfa-Bank expects to increase the number of WhatsApp requests to 50% by the end of the current year.
This case study has been re-published by kind permission of Infobip