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Why Transforming the Back-Office is Key to Customer Experience Success in Financial Services

The back-office is finally getting its due and credit for its contributions to customer experience

By Nicole Nevulis, Senior Director of Strategy for Back-Office Workforce Engagement at Verint.

One of the biggest factors that contribute to customer engagement success is automation. Quite often teams are investing in automation solutions for customer-facing processes such as using chatbots to provide customer self-service. However, there is a tremendous opportunity to transform back-office operations to make this a competitive differentiator for long-term customer engagement success.

Back-office employees are critical to bank and credit union customer experience. Even if they’re not talking to the customer, they have a huge impact on the customer journey. Are they processing things on time? Did they process it with the right quality?

Negative customer experiences arise from issues such as failing to update addresses and other changes to accounts, which can lead to a card payment being declined and risk of fraud from an unauthorized person receiving a card. Failing to properly update account information can also lead to missed deposits for ACH and wire transactions, which are especially critical in a down economy and for anyone living from paycheck to paycheck.

Automation can help with this process, helping financial institutions serve their customers quickly and more efficiently, with digitization replacing many paper processes. Moreover, streamlining these processes enables frontline employees and managers to focus on creating exceptional customer experiences.

Helping the Human Side of the Equation

Though automation is critical, banks and credit unions can’t ignore the importance of the human side of the back-office. Automation isn’t about replacing humans, it’s more about augmenting the human workforce. The main focus of automation shouldn’t be to eliminate jobs, it should be about automating routine tasks to free up employees’ time to do more value-added engaging work.

For example, while automation can speed the application-to-approval process for a loan, the final decision for those in the grey area (just below approval thresholds) will often involve conversations between managers and potential customers, finding different ways to make a loan work (e.g., paying off an outstanding debt to boost a credit score). These conversations must revolve around empathy and contextual elements that are uniquely understood and delivered by humans.

Financial institutions will want to look at ways to attract and retain top talent. To do so, they need to ask these fundamental questions: How do we become an employer of choice? How do we provide job mobility? How are we improving collaboration? How are we bringing in the right candidates? 

Automation also enables managers and employees to make faster and more accurate decisions and improve the employee and supervisory experience. Here’s an example of automation that makes everybody’s lives easier and improves employee engagement: With a mobile workforce management app, employees can review their performance remotely. An employee can sign up for a shift in the back-office or ask for time off, all via their phone.  It provides instant information to the employee and eliminates the need for managers to manage excel spreadsheets or other manual tools for scheduling.

Blending automation with engaged human agents also helps companies fill the Engagement Capacity Gap, meeting growing customer engagement volumes and higher expectations.

Where Transformation Efforts Fall Short

One of the challenges financial institutions face in making back-offices more efficient – and delivering improved customer experiences – is that many still have siloed systems, channels or areas of responsibility that aren’t unified.

Sometimes automation implementations stop at a very rudimentary level, such that the full benefits of the technology are never realized. For example, some financial institutions have implemented robotic process automation (RPA), but if systems are still siloed, the workflow benefits from the automation are limited.

Customers want to interact via their channel of choice, and they want to be able to pick up conversations where they left off. They want frictionless experiences. That means eliminating the barriers rooted in the back-office: quality issues and late delivery due to inefficient use of resources.

Financial institutions will broaden the automation solutions they invest in, focusing on those that equip their employees and managers to get the job done. These tools provide real-time performance feedback to employees, empowering them to self-adjust their performance and proactively seek coaching. Back-office automation can provide real-time support and centralized knowledge to quickly answer questions and bolster employees’ confidence to do their work.  It means simplifying the managers’ jobs – providing data-driven insights, freeing up their time to make faster, more accurate decisions and allowing them to maximize utilization of their resources.

Equipping the back-office of the future entails employing the means to attract and retain top talent and make it more seamless for humans and bots to work together to bring about the types of experiences that customers and employees value.

As financial institutions begin to integrate the front and back-office for improved customer experience, there is a need to embrace an approach that leverages employees across the organization to support the customer.  The fact is that customers want to interact on their own channel of choice, and they want to be able to pick up conversations where they left off. Financial services organizations are going to need to supply their employees with the tools they need to get the job done well, no matter where they sit in the organization. This necessitates real-time support and guidance as well as centralized knowledge resources to empower employees to quickly answer questions.

In the future, financial institutions will embrace a One Workforce approach and optimize and orchestrate resources – both humans and bots – across the enterprise to foster a fully connected experience.

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