Good ideas don’t always work out in practice. Until recently, that was the case with the idea of a “universal banker.” This concept sought to combine the roles of bank teller and bank seller into one single resource. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on. Bank tellers didn’t want to be sellers. And bank salespeople didn’t want to be tellers. Worse, training one person in all the skills needed for both positions was nearly impossible. Now that’s changing, thanks to a set of emerging technologies that includes predictive analytics, AI and machine learning, chatbots and voice-to-text. As these technologies become more mainstream, they are transforming the universal banker role from yesterday’s “just a good idea” to tomorrow’s “a viable reality.”
By creating a universal banker role, banks stand to enjoy three main benefits:
- Increased employee efficiency and productivity, which can also lower costs
- Reduced turnover, thanks to greater employee satisfaction
- Greater customer satisfaction. This can both lower customer churn and increase revenue with improved cross-selling
These are important benefits. A survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that nearly half (44%) of organizations across all industries say a top business priority for going digital is increasing employee efficiency and productivity. Nearly as many (43%) cited the improved ability to meet customer demand. And about the same percentage (42%) also prioritize cost savings.
The savings from shifting to a universal banker come mainly from increased efficiency and productivity. This means a bank branch can operate with fewer resources. Consider that tellers and sellers are not working at full capacity every minute of the day. In a typical day in a bank branch there are both peak periods and lulls. These peaks and lulls vary by role due to the natural traffic of customers in the branch. Peak times for a teller are often lulls for the seller and vice versa. By combining the roles, the resource structure of the branch is more evenly distributed throughout the day and the number of resources optimized. The technology enables banks to effectively combine these roles because the processes are optimized, and intelligent assistance is built right in.
With a universal banker and new technologies, banks can also reduce the expense of communicating changes to their branches. Retail-bank operations departments currently spend massive amounts of both time and money communicating changes regarding new systems, new regulations, new features, and updated products and services. Imagine a solution that could not only communicate these changes to frontline personnel in real time, but also provide the tools they need to make these changes seamless for customers. Technology solutions are available that can convey changes in real time while the banker is completing the process instead of the banker having to rely on existing documentation that was accessed weeks prior or is filed somewhere else.
Creating a universal banker position can also reduce turnover by giving employees the tools they need to move through complicated processes with ease. For example, if a banker only opens an Estate Account once a year and cannot remember everything that is required, technology provides tools that deliver all the information that is needed at each step of the process. The banker will feel confident they are completing the steps properly. Today’s technology tools are intuitive, they can be personalized, and they’re generally easy to use. Technology also can help bankers cope with heavy workloads, allowing them to focus instead on serving the customer. For example, having a system that is seamless and intuitive, connecting all tools, applications and knowledge, instead of signing into multiple systems, reading through policy manuals, or calling a subject matter expert for further advice allows bankers to focus on customers instead of navigating the technology. All things being equal, frustrated workers leave, while happy, productive ones stay — especially when they’re providing customers with real value.
Universal bankers can help improve customer satisfaction. If one bank employee can handle the majority of a customer’s banking needs, seamlessly and efficiently, the customer will naturally be more satisfied. Customers also get the right information at the exact time they need it, further raising their satisfaction and retention. Cross- and up-selling opportunities increase, too. That’s possible as technology gives bank employees access to customers’ full banking portfolios, as well as the tools and techniques they need for selling new products and services. Being able to integrate customer interactions in all channels and anticipate future needs and understand how the customer wants to interact and what could save them time and money. All of this working seamlessly due to the technology tools available.
If creating a universal banker position is such a good idea, why aren’t more banks doing it? One major reason is that some of the technology and deployment of it while mainstream, is still specialized to a point that many customers do not have adequate resources or technology within their organization. Working with trusted partners and leveraging their expertise of multiple deployments allows financial institutions to execute on such a strategy.