How briskly-growing neobank Novo met its customer support problem

Within the early days of Novo, a challenger financial institution for small companies, its founders answered each buyer question personally from their Gmail accounts.

The Miami firm’s method to customer support has modified loads since then — by necessity. Its buyer base jumped from 300 customers in January 2019, whereas Novo was nonetheless in beta, to five,000 customers by the tip of that 12 months. The numbers climbed into the tens of hundreds in 2020 and swelled to greater than 100,000 this 12 months.

Brian Kale, director of buyer success at Novo, began streamlining buyer interactions with software program from Zendesk when he joined in January 2019. However within the early months of the pandemic, Novo stepped up its efforts through the use of Zendesk’s know-how to automate responses to buyer queries, monitor widespread issues and summon priceless buyer info throughout a service request.

In addition to lightening the burden on its workers, these techniques will assist the corporate deal with requests extra effectively as its buyer depend grows.

Novo’s funding in customer support know-how comes at a time when different fast-growing neobanks have struggled to maintain up with prospects’ calls for. It additionally comes as competitors for small companies’ financial institution accounts is choosing up amongst banks and fintechs.

Pace is paramount for small-business homeowners, mentioned Ian Benton, a senior analyst in digital banking at Javelin Technique & Analysis. In his personal evaluation of the Novo app for Javelin, he has discovered that customer support representatives reply rapidly to in-app queries. In actual fact, Javelin analysis reveals that among the many high 25 retail banks within the U.S., solely three have in-app messaging with a human, that means Novo’s providing is uncommon.

“That is gentle years forward of most conventional banks, even the biggest ones,” mentioned Benton. “They could have chatbots, however even then, they need you to name them or arrange an appointment for extra complicated questions. In-app chat is a key differentiator for the few neobanks which can be doing it.”

Novo’s adjustments have already had an affect. In 2020, because the world began to lock down and the corporate went distant, Novo’s weekly ticket depend climbed to about 1,800 per week for 3 representatives to deal with. (A ticket is an inbound request from a buyer through cellphone, e-mail or one other channel.) As Novo transitioned to Zendesk’s cloud-based voice system, ramped up its automated solutions and deployed a customized app that offers brokers extra details about a buyer contacting the corporate, the quantity dropped to about 1,100 tickets per week.

The corporate entered 2021 with 5 help representatives and has elevated that depend to 30 over the previous seven months.

“Novo realized rapidly that in any trade, not simply banking, the differentiator between you and rivals is the client expertise,” Kale mentioned.

Some easy design adjustments inspired prospects to do their very own analysis moderately than submit a ticket. For instance, within the spring of 2020, Novo experimented with reversing the order by which the 2 choices for looking for help had been offered within the cellular app. As a substitute of first itemizing the choice to contact help, Novo moved its steadily requested inquiries to the highest of the web page.

That just about doubled the ratio of article views per ticket created, Kale mentioned.

To handle cellphone calls, Novo transitioned from landlines to Zendesk Speak, the corporate’s cloud-based name middle software program, inside days as staff scattered throughout the nation to proceed doing their jobs remotely.

Changing to Zendesk Speak allowed Novo to handle all buyer communications from one place, whether or not they happen on e-mail, cellphone or chat. Novo tags calls, together with different buyer tickets, which suggests it labels the interplay with phrases or phrases that point out the subject material. These tags are aggregated weekly and month-to-month so the corporate can detect traits, examine widespread buyer wants and justify new merchandise.

For instance, Novo launched “Novo Reserves” in January, that are subaccounts that prospects can use to arrange the funds of their most important accounts. The neobank discovered this was probably the most widespread requests from its base, particularly “revenue first” enterprise homeowners who needed to make sure taxes, funds and revenue had been correctly balanced.

Novo additionally built-in Zendesk Reply Bot within the spring of 2020. This can be a characteristic that makes use of synthetic intelligence to select up on key phrases in channels comparable to chat and e-mail and supply solutions to easy questions. For instance, a query about learn how to activate a debit card could name up an article with directions.

Kale estimates that 80% of consumers are open to this quick-answer interplay, which usually takes place over chat and e-mail, and that Reply Bot helps deflect 5% of tickets that may in any other case have gone to an agent.

“We see buyer tickets in two methods,” mentioned Kale. “One is a query {that a} buyer simply needs answered, and automation is nice for that.”

The opposite approach, he says, is an issue that requires human interplay. To offer its brokers extra perception a couple of buyer after they attain out, Novo constructed a customized app with Zendesk’s open software programming interface. When brokers obtain a ticket, they view an on-screen dashboard with a profile of a enterprise proprietor, together with latest interactions, that means they don’t need to flip between screens or put the client on maintain to search for key particulars.

Kale estimates this shaves 30 seconds off every ticket. “The loading occasions, logins and mouse clicks can actually add up,” he mentioned. “The variety of mouse clicks for some tickets might be within the a whole lot.”

At present, Novo is at 10 article views per ticket created, that means there are 10 articles considered by anybody on Novo’s assist middle in contrast with what number of tickets are created. Kale says he hopes to succeed in a ratio of 30 to 1.

Kristen Durham, vice chairman of startups at Zendesk, mentioned Novo stands out in 3 ways: It maximizes Zendesk’s core performance, it created its personal product utilizing Zendesk’s APIs, and it’s utilizing know-how that can assist the corporate scale up sooner or later.

This high-touch service is very vital for Novo’s prospects, that are largely one- and two-person firms. Benton finds that Novo differentiates itself from neobank rivals with personalised service, complete FAQs and speedy human responses.

“Whereas [our customers] are small companies, many don’t acknowledge themselves as companies however consider themselves as an individual,” mentioned Kale. “They’ve consumer-grade calls for and expectations.”


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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