Ready to accelerate transformation in your company? You can watch the replay of this stacked panel discussion, or just read the highlights below.
First off, our panelists:
- Frank Aloi, Founder, ath Power Consulting
- Steven Connolly, Senior Director, Head of Product, Engageware
- Chris Stamper, Chief Client Officer, Bridjr
And our moderator:
The state of transformation in the financial sector
Jean-Pierre (JP) Lacroix:
What are some of the biggest hurdles or pain points that your company is addressing for the banking market today around digital transformation?
Chris Stamper, Bridjr:
The pandemic has served as the inflection point to accelerate digital transformation for banking. Customers demand to interact and engage in different ways. This has caused a need to think differently about what customers are looking for, and how you deliver that for them.
Frank Aloi, Founder, ath Power Consulting:
The recurring objectives driving digital transformation are to cut costs, and increase efficiencies. Many of the transformation speed bumps are people-focused, so we’re focused on talent optimization which is trying to get customer experience and human resources to play together, which is the way it should be. The end game is to have employees who crush the brand promise. It means hiring the right people and inspiring them continuously. And trying to find the employees who should be working at your organization.
I think organizations recognize a need for change. But it’s the sustainability of change that’s needed. And change is implemented by people. It’s not enough to write a 300-page deck that says we should change. The focus is how you implement change, how you train, how you keep moving forward, and how you roll it out. Ultimately, how do you incent people to take it through to final execution? A lot of the work that we’re doing with clients is making sustainable change and momentum for transformation real.
Steven Connolly, Engageware:
We just did a study of our application data from March 2020 to March 2021 and released digital-first banking insights. Our products allow customers to use self-service methods on banking sites and apps, as well as internal tools for their employees and allow appointment-setting to get in touch with somebody.
Self-service activity on bank or credit websites increased about 69%, which sounds interesting, but chatbot usage on bank and credit union websites and mobile apps increased 272% during the period. And we saw an increase in scheduled appointments by almost 80%.
So, there’s been a shift in how people want to interact with their institutions. There’s no argument. People want to do things digitally and serve themselves. The problem we’ve seen is one of staffing because inevitably, immature chat systems, don’t always get the right answer. But we’ve all experienced the sessions where you’re trying to just talk to an actual employee via some chat session. And now you have to wait 10 minutes because the queue for getting into a call center has lengthened and the reason for that is there aren’t enough qualified staff to be able to help out with the answers to those questions.
Chris and Frank have been talking about brand integrity. The last thing you want to do is introduce new capabilities that are supposed to alleviate and solve problems for customers but also then create a different pain point for them, which is a longer transaction rate, a disconnected service to the brand, and overall dissatisfaction with trying to get jobs done.
Overlooked and underused transformation strategies
Understanding the employee and customer experience is not happening in the beginning, literally on day one, when you start looking at how you’re going to permeate the transformation to the front line.
Competitor research is underused. It’s important to make sure the course is set in the right direction. Facilitating a competitor analysis is always a smart idea. Institutions are understandably very concerned about studying their own customer experience. Take the appropriate effort to study the market, see what the benchmarks are, what the competitors are doing right. These can be very simple analyses. You can do this using a financial institution’s own employees. Results show your management that you know what’s being done, where the gaps are, and how you can facilitate a better experience all the way through.
I always like to encourage clients to think in a model that’s outside-in and future-back. And so complementary to Frank, you must look broader than your traditional set of competitors for insights that will help shape that transformation journey. And I think one of the things that the H2D collective is trying to say is to look more broadly, look, internationally, look, outside of your borders, look for different opinions and approaches that might provide insights that will shape your transformation study.
And then, of course, future back, which is, what is the destination? And where do you think you want to be? And where are you today? And then how do you work towards that destination, by understanding where you think you want to go. So, again, complementary to what Frank was saying, there are ways to collect those insights by engaging and co-creating.
And we tend to say, the corporate strategy teams and the marketing teams know enough about what the transformation should look like. And the reality is, the best insights come from groups you wouldn’t typically go to in the organization that are familiar with how the organization runs, and what’s at the behest of the customers. And so I like to push companies to think more broadly about how they define what the problem is, and where they get those insights from.
I think the untapped strategy is examining what your customers are trying to do and then fully appreciating how to best deliver services. You need to try to understand how you can align your goals and products to your external assets whether they’re digital or personal.
Here’s another insight from our research into usage from March 2020 – March 2021. Our top question for that time period was “What is your bank’s routing number?” Such a simple question, that’s fueled by a need to engage in a transaction, during the pandemic the majority was bill pay, a retail banking transaction. These insights start with understanding what your customers are trying to do and then have that translate to the right assets, be they digital or physical. And help answer those questions!
It’s critical for banks to create the human touch in their digital transformation. We know from our self-attrition study in 2017, that the more you move a consumer to a digital-only platform, the less loyal they are to a financial institution. So obviously, having that human touch, it could be video, chat, or in the branch, is important.
It’s human in any channel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical at any channel. And I think that’s a unique difference. Most customers haven’t met a channel they don’t like. Channels aren’t detracting from each other; channels are adding to each other. So, I can use the branch and the phone and the web and the ATM, and tablet, and POS. It’s a cumulative build. It’s not just a replacement.
How are banks doing at delivering the human touch in digital transformation?
I think financial CEOs think they’re doing a reasonably good job of trying to be customer-centric. They talk the right game and there’s an underlying current of agreement that yes, we should be customer-oriented and do the right things for our customers. I think there’s a disconnect. It’s in how the employees bring that customer-centricity to life.
Unfortunately, sometimes the technology, the structure, the process, the rules, or the governance doesn’t align to make that a common happy experience for the customer. From experience, it’s a combination of the back office, front office process, compliance, technology that’s oriented around the right purpose. And purpose can’t just be something you put up on the wall, it has to be something that the organization lives in its decision hierarchy.
When we make decisions that serve the purpose-led model, the outcome is a better experience for the customer. It’s a better shareholder experience as well. We know that purpose-led organizations deliver a 30% better shareholder return rate than non-purpose-led organizations.
It needs to really affect all the decisions, all the structures, and how you go to market for your employees as well as your customers.
I feel like we’ve lived a lifetime in the last 18 months. It’s really been a challenging journey for banks and credit unions, specifically on the appointment side of our business. Banks were essential businesses that had to stay open, but branches in many cases were closed. So how do you serve customers? That was just frantic from an employee perspective because they couldn’t really understand how to best meet the needs of their customers when they wanted to interface with people face to face. We saw growth in phone-based appointments and virtual appointments.
The next milestone was, okay, we can open but capacity restraints only allow a certain number of people in a branch at a specific time. So that meant that your senior executives were trying to understand their employee optimization rates across the different branches. You didn’t want to be overstaffed in one place, and understaffed in another because again, it would create stress for your employees. And now that a lot of branches are fully opened, people are having challenges trying to hire and retain staff.
It’s no exaggeration that branch operations managers have been pushed through the gamut over these last 18 months because they’ve had to reinvent their business strategy multiple times.
What we try to do is deliver those solutions that help take some of the heat off the employees with automated solutions.
I did listen to Anita’s presentation earlier, which was excellent, by the way. And she, she mentioned trust, you know, that is an enormous piece of all of this. And for these frontline people, to be able to relay trust, they must feel confident in themselves.
How equipped are your people? Chris said, how equipped are your people to be able to guide your customers.
The biggest mistakes companies make when preparing employees for digital transformation
I think that one of the biggest oversights is assuming that employees will just naturally learn the bank’s tools. That is not the case.
As a matter of fact, we did a study for one of the top four banks in North America 18 months ago, to try to find out why employees didn’t use their services. That represents an engagement gap.
When working with employee engagement, confidence is the way I look at the brand-aligned employee. So we’re creating training environments with our clients that allow employees to use these banks’ own digital solutions, right? It goes back to communication, trust, all these wonderful things that you want them to pass on to the customers.
To me, that’s actually a really big deal, that just sort of realizing what really is happening out there at the front lines. And as noted, banks, you know, sort of trying to upfront, just looking at these natural behaviors of each employee as they come in. So that’s one thing that came to my mind here at the end of this session.
I’ll keep it real short, don’t go it alone. In our business, we’ve gone from responding to RFPs, to helping customers write business cases to justify the solutions they need. You’ve got people to help manage projects and to help keep an eye on budgeting. But you must engage. Engage with customers, with vendors to understand the options. We try to help because our success is mutual.
Don’t go it alone. Don’t be afraid to pick up the telephone. There are ways we can help without you being obliged to buy anything.
It’s been great to share this discussion with everybody. From my perspective, there are two things. One is uncovering customer insights and orienting your development and your strategy to true customer insights. And then the second one is, don’t skip a deep dive on implementation strategy. To me, you’re destined for failure in any sort of program that you roll if you’re not as deeply invested in the implementation plan, as much as the strategic development.