universal banker

Rising trends in the universal banker era

Selim HASAN, Syed Adil ALI
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Universal Banker
We live in a world that is more connected than ever, generating more data than ever. The new age of digital transformation is often referred to as the fourth phase of the industrial revolution that has fundamentally transformed the ways in which financial institutions operate.

The banks are no exception to this technological revolution. The arrival of advanced technology along with improved communication networks has forced conventional banks to come out of their shell and open their doors to new innovations. Such innovations have paved the way for community banking, a model that is centered-around building customers' trust in the banks. We are no longer seeing long queues, paper-based transactions or bankers sitting behind glass cabins. On the contrary, what we are witnessing today is bankers having an in-depth view of every customer from different channels, allowing them to offer personalized services to their customers.

The paradigm shift from an operational standpoint for a bank can be attributed to its pursuit of keeping up to date with technology. Technology has also impacted banks' organizational structure, processes and internal culture. Conventional banks are now facing challenges in embracing this change. Employee resistance, designing ergonomic IT artifacts, maintaining data quality, to name a few. However, banks can't bear the cost of not embracing this change as it could translate into a significant decrease of their market share.

This major change in banking is not only driven by the technological advancements. Banks are also trying to enter new markets and acquire new customer segments. These new segments can have different expectations when it comes to services and capability delivery. The combination of technological advancements with the willingness to acquire new customer segments has profoundly forced the banks to develop a new perspective built around IT solutions that are customer-centric.

When we talk about being customer-centric, universal bankers come into play. In banking, there is - more than ever - an increased need for engagement and relationship growth. In addition to performing a variety of tasks associated with transactional customer requests, the universal bankers are also in the key position to develop new business opportunities with the customers who are coming through the branch doors. They are the face of the banks. They can act as tellers and open accounts, handle teller transactions, inform customers of other product and services that meet their needs. Universal bankers are also full time bankers and they aim to develop deep and meaningful relationships with the customers, educate them and strive to make each interaction the best customer experience of the day.

In order to make this happen, the IT system of the banks should be able to provide a clear insight into customer data. This valuable data would enable the universal bankers to make informed decisions and bring out maximum profitability for the bank during any interaction with the customer.

Here are a few tips for the banks to successfully develop and adopt a customer-centric approach while catching up with technological advancements.

Provide a clear insight into customer data

A "single customer view" captures and populates data from different systems. When it's combined with the contemporary Artificial Intelligence and decision driving analytics, the bank can use information about past and current stages of the customer journey and make predictions for the future. Such system would enable the banks to "Sell, Solve and Serve".

Complete transactions in the fewest clicks

With every physical interaction the customer has with the bank, the goal - for the bank - is to generate maximum value in terms of revenue or customer satisfaction.

In a modern banking scenario, if there is a targeted offer for the customer in the customer single customer view and if the banker is able to capture the customer's interest in the offer during the interaction, the IT system should be capable to integrate with the back office allowing for fulfillment of the offer. To handle such scenarios, the IT solution should not only act as a screen populated with data about the client. The application also needs to be mature enough to accommodate interactive scenarios. On a broader level the system should not only be advanced in terms of data management but also be capable of process enhancement while providing service efficiencies. The goal should be to complete transactions in the fewest clicks.

Replace old systems with an up-to-date user interface

Finally, the ergonomic look and feel of the system plays a crucial role in shaping the adoption of these IT systems. The applications should have a contemporary user interface (UI) that can overcome the challenges of conventional blue screens (non-interactive DOS systems). The look and feel of the solution should match up with modern applications of the mobile devices. In a conventional banking infrastructure, the bankers feel more up-to-date with technology while working from their homes, however as soon as they walk into the branch, the conventional UI takes them fifteen years back to ancient systems. Such traditional systems have a causality on the customer's perception of the bank. Bankers feel more confident dealing with applications they can relate to. Such relation triggers the system's adoption intuitively, since it gets easier to understand the flow and functionality of the system.

The tips above are an attempt to list the initial features needed to build a roadmap for the development of such applications, but the list is certainly not exhaustive. Banks are now viewed as a web of forces that come together to provide a modern and seamless experience to their clients. Among these forces, IT capability of the bank certainly stands as a differentiator in this fast-changing market. Institutions that are quick to adopt such solutions can create synergies with their customers and have an early mover advantage. These institutions that are investing in technology rebuild the way they operate in a digital world and drive innovation to transform overall customer experience.