Engaging Employees to Accelerate Digital Banking Transformation

With the vast majority of financial institutions placing digital banking transformation as a top priority, employees face changes in roles and perspectives that have served them well for decades. If employees don’t accept these changes, not only will they be left behind, but digital banking transformations will fail.

Digital banking transformation is much more than simply enabling the customer to access products and services on digital channels. Done correctly, it involves the digitalization of business processes, applications, data and business models. The goal of digital banking transformation is to improve the customer experience and the productivity of employees for an increasingly digital world.

As banks and credit unions evaluate their digital banking maturity, they look at ways to improve the sales process, rethink product offerings, use data and analytics to personalize the customer journey, and increase digital engagement all while hoping to increase efficiencies that will positively impact the organization’s bottom line. But as organizations rush to become ‘more digital’ for the customer, many may forget about the importance of the employee in the transformation.

Whether it’s the scope of digital banking transformation, the need to deploy new technology, or the potential reorganization of legacy business units, these changes impact people, process and technology that have been around for a while. This makes it difficult to get leaders to embrace change – and even harder for employees.

Quote from MIT Sloan - Employees can either be the greatest inhibitors or the greatest enablers of transformation success.

It is imperative for financial institutions to engage employees early in the digital banking transformation process and to get them excited about the opportunities on the horizon. At the same time that an organization focuses on the customer experience, the employee experience must also be at the center of the digital banking strategy.

This can be accomplished by making current employees part of the digital customer engagement process. From training staff on new digital products and applications, to leveraging customer contact employees to educate customers on the power of digital, employees can be a powerful tool to accelerate digital banking transformation and improve the customer experience.

Once employees understand that digital transformation does not need to equate to the elimination of existing jobs, they be encouraged to share their ideas around new ways to improve the digital process. By fostering an environment of creativity and innovation, you’ll improve employee satisfaction — and create new digital capabilities not considered in the past.

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Where to Start

Digital transformation and employee involvement can’t be successful in a vacuum. It is important to create open dialogue where employees don’t get the impression that change is being forced upon them. Remember, most employees are worried that digital transformation will eliminate their jobs. In reality, it is more likely that their jobs will be redefined for a digital marketplace.

Leaders should engage employees to find out what they believe are the most important digital improvements that need to be made. As opposed to simply issuing pronouncements from the top of the organization, all members of management should become champions of change, moving the culture of the organization towards the new digital reality. The alliances through the entire organization will speed up the process and minimize negative push-back.

“Employees need to know what’s coming and how it will be rolled out; what processes will change, in what order; how these changes will affect or evolve their roles; and how they’re going to be trained.”

— Zendesk

Even after the digital banking transformation process has gained support, the lines of communication must remain open … constantly asking staff for suggestions and any concerns. By focusing on an improved employee experience with open communication and clear goals, the customer experience will be positively impacted and employee satisfaction will improve.

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Invest in Your Employees

Many financial institutions are investing heavily in new technologies and processes to support their digital banking transformation goals. Research by the Digital Banking Report has found that banks and credit unions have increased investment in digital transformation in each of the past four years.

There is no doubt that these investments are justified given the flight to digital by consumers and the game-changing technology that can support digital customer experience improvements. Unfortunately, with such a focus on data, analytics, technology and systems, most firms ignore the need to invest in employees to make sure they maximize the value of the new tools being deployed.

Beyond open communication around how employees can be a part of the digital banking transformation process, it is important to invest in training the people to ensure that the digital banking transformation efforts succeed. If you don’t, it’s like buying a new car but failing to fill the gas tank (or charge the batteries).

To respond to the need to reskill and upskill current employees, new models of managing learning and development have emerged. More than replicating legacy training methods, new learning officer positions have been created with the responsibility of not only creating ongoing learning opportunities, but also supporting cultural transformation.With change happening so quickly in organizations in every industry, learning experiences are becoming more personalized, digitized, strategy-based and agile. This enables learning opportunities that can be adjusted in close to real-time.

Not every new digital position can be filled by existing employees. This is why financial institutions also need to build new talent sourcing options. In some instances, a new full-time hire will be sought. In others, outsourcing or using contingent workers may help address the challenge. Banks and credit unions have also found unique ways to partner with existing solution providers to assist in areas where talent is hard to find.

Employee Satisfaction Drives Positive Customer Experiences

Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between unhappy employees and dissatisfied customers. Therefore, the opposite must be true, right? More importantly, well-trained employees can be a valuable asset in helping consumers understand and use many of the digital tools at their disposal.

With improving the customer experience being the top priority for financial institutions surveyed by the Digital Banking Report, it is clear that a financial institution’s employees must have a conducive work environment to deliver a positive experience to the customer.

According to Susan Lahey from Zendesk, “It’s challenging to bridge the gap between people who embrace changes and those who fear change, as well as those whose jobs will be substantially improved, and those who are impacted in a less positive way. It helps to remind employees that if disruption doesn’t come from within, it may come from outside, or a competitor.” In other words, change won’t stop.

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