Although some predict a slowing in the incredible growth rate of the prepaid card industry, we’re still talking over 20% growth every year. So if call spikes overwhelm the call center now, wait until companies are bigger.
Call spikes aren’t going anywhere. And neither are automated voice systems, which handle more communications than live agents and social media accounts. Something has to give.
Prepaid Is Growing, Obviously
If anyone needs a reminder, the prepaid card industry is growing—
MasterCard commissioned a study that predicts the prepaid card industry will grow by 22% every year through 2017. Total global opportunity in the industry will reach $822 billion by then.
If anyone needs a reminder why—
The “popularity of prepaid is driven by its unique and practical ability to solve for almost any payment need,” offers the MasterCard report.
You know the rest. It brings electronic payments to the unbanked, can be an alternative to cash for governments and businesses, and can be an alternate payment method for the banked wanting to separate their spending (e.g., vacation from bills).
And you know it’s spreading worldwide.
“While the U.S. market continues to present the largest opportunity, the rest of the world is accelerating at a rapid pace,” said the MasterCard study. “In fact, by 2017 we expect to see a more balanced global share, with the rest of the world representing almost half of the global open loop opportunity.”
However, the Mercator Advisory Group has reported that the “industry’s growth has slowed and may remain depressed when compared with the past because of ongoing economic turmoil and increased legislative and regulatory action.”
It Will Only Get Worse
Does that mean growth and scalability don’t matter? Hardly.
“Having now written 10 prepaid forecasts, Mercator Advisory Group has learned not to generalize about the prepaid market,” writes Tim Sloane, vice president of Client Services for Mercator. “The one observation that is safe to make is that companies and consumers continue to find new uses for prepaid technology, and that will drive growth in some segments and a movement of dollars between segments.”
In fact, as the industry becomes more regulated, balance sheets will tighten and competition will increase.
Considering that customer experience is a catchphrase on everyone’s lips these days and considering that customer service is emerging (reemerging?) as a major differentiator, it looks as if things like waiting on hold will matter even more down the road.
“In addition,” says Sloane. “The cost of operating a prepaid program continues to rise due to increased regulation while income is squeezed in this fiercely competitive market.”
With the high volume of calls prepaid card companies get, they can’t afford to fumble the ball during call spikes. There are too many customers calling during spikes, too many potentially bad customer experiences and subsequent complaints on social media. And too many competitors to take away customers.
Bad Customer Experience
Whatever else companies do for their call center automation, they need to make sure their IVR infrastructure is built to handle call spikes of any number.
Nothing can drag an organization down faster than an IVR. It’s the first and most common touch point for customers, and if it can’t scale to handle call spikes, callers will notice.
They’ll end up on hold. They’ll transfer out of the system to a live agent, where they’ll end up on hold for even longer. They’ll hang up and call back. The customer experience will suffer. Customer service costs will go up. No one will win.