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Call data reveals NZers lockdown routines

Call data from New Zealand’s largest bank suggests Kiwis in lockdown settled into some new routines: we appear to have been slower in the morning, glued to the 6pm TV news and the government’s big COVID-19 announcements, and used digital tools more than ever.


ANZ’s contact centre has seen a huge increase in calls since the crisis began, with an extra 100 staff brought in to answer on average 3,000 additional calls each day.


But it’s the timing of those calls that is most revealing.


“We saw dramatic changes to call volumes when significant COVID-19 announcements are taking place,” says Sarina Pratley, ANZ NZ’s Contact Centre General Manager.


When the lockdown was first announced on Monday 23rd March ANZ saw a drop in call number of over 80% on the same time a week earlier.


It happened again early last week on Monday 20th April, when the government revealed the country would be moving out of level 4 on the 27th April, with a 67% drop in call volumes on the previous week.


“On both occasions our customers largely stopped calling for a period, a great example of how external factors can immediately influence years of historic behaviour,” says Pratley.


Kiwis also appear to have stopped what they were doing to watch the daily 1pm COVID-19 government briefing.


A daily drop-off in calls to the contact centre at that time was also seen at 6pm, when many New Zealanders were catching up with the day’s development by watching the news bulletin on TV.


We also seemed to be checking out from our finances in the evening and slower to get moving in the morning.


“I’m guessing people were sleeping in, as we saw our customers calling us for help a little later in the morning and had far fewer calls in the evening,” says Pratley.



“It’s also been neat to see some elderly customers show a willingness to try new things, setting up Voice ID on their phone banking accounts for the first time.”

Sarina Pratley, ANZ NZ’s Contact Centre General Manager



Changing needs


ANZ also saw changes in the reasons why customers were contacting the bank.


Early in the crisis, driven by market volatility, the largest volume of calls related to customers’ KiwiSaver accounts, with many wanting information on how to make changes.


This altered when the country went into lockdown, with customers’ primary concern becoming home and business lending.


“It’s not just about a top-up to a home loan, for example, we‘ve been trying to help customers understand what options are available, especially when their personal situation has changed,” says Pratley.


ANZ saw twice the normal volume of calls from customers asking for help to make a payment, pay a bill or transfer money between accounts.


“We’ve been spending more time than usual on these calls because for some of them it’s the first time they’ve done this over the phone, so a great opportunity to talk them through what is possible,” says Pratley.


“It’s also been neat to see some elderly customers show a willingness to try new things, setting up Voice ID on their phone banking accounts for the first time.”


There has also been a strong effort to help those customers over the age of 65.


A quarter of the 21,259 customers that visited ANZ branches during limited opening hours this month were in this age group.


ANZ also set up two new teams focused on helping seniors bank securely from home.


With over 8 million weekly logins to goMoney and Internet Banking, ANZ saw a 12% increase in the use of secure bank emails on this time last year, reflecting an increasing focus on digital banking channels by customers during the month-long lockdown.

Sarina Pratley, ANZ NZ’s Contact Centre General Manager.


From bubble to bubble


The state of emergency has also forced ANZ to find a secure way for a large number of contact centre staff to stay in their own bubble and be able to work from home.


“A year ago if someone said “you have 7 days to make your business 90% remote” we would have thought it would be impossible, but it’s something we achieved,” says Pratley.


With many contact centre staff themselves forced to juggle work and home commitments like childcare, it has been a challenging time.


“You often see the best and worst of people in times of crisis and we’ve seen the best,” says Pratley.


 “Those bankers are supporting our customers in the most challenging and difficult of circumstances and they are making a real difference.


“They call us from the confines of their bubble and they can speak to a real person who will listen. That makes a huge difference,” says Pratley.


Pratley says her team are helping many customers whose lives have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those who have lost their jobs or are experiencing hardship.


While ANZ bankers are also working closely to help small business get through a tough time, Pratley says on a personal level she will also be doing what she can to support them.


“The landscape has changed and if I think about myself, my focus is on how I can help support some of those businesses by making more of an effort to shop locally and buy NZ-made.”



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