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Becoming the contact center of the future

March 30, 2011

By Theresa Hamacher, CFA and President of NICSA

Question: How will investors and advisers communicate with mutual fund companies in the future?

Answer: Any way they want to.

That’s according to the panel of experts speaking today on NICSA’s webinar on “The Contact Center of the Future”. Not only will tomorrow’s transfer agents talk with customers through multiple channels, they’ll anticipate the mode of communication that a client will want to use at any given time. Maybe one financial adviser relies on e-mail exclusively, while another uses her mobile phone to check NAVs but likes to make a phone call to resolve any problems. Whatever these personal preferences, the transfer agent of the future will remember them and accommodate them.

Getting from the call center of today to the contact center of the future will not be easy for many mutual fund sponsors. Call center processes have advanced incrementally while technology and customer expectations have taken a leap forward, so that the mutual fund industry is lagging other industries in the way that it connects with its clients.

Regulatory requirements are part of the reason for the slow process — but incremental thinking plays just as big a role. Fund sponsors need to be more innovative in the way they approach customer contact — breaking down the walls that separate the communication channels into silos. They also have to find ways to talk with their costumers about their needs. That might be through interviews or traditional focus groups — but at least one fund company has fostered an online community that provides feedback on proposed offerings.

As one panelist put it, “Customer expectations are changing at warp speed.” Contact centers will need to change both their technology and their planning processes to keep up with them.

An archive of the complete webinar is available to NICSA members here.

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