The workplace as we know it has been completely reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since banking is considered an essential industry, many frontline employees continued to work at branches and call centers during government-mandated shutdowns. However, many financial industry employees who are able to work from home have made the shift to working remotely.
Major banks including Capital One plan to have employees work from home until at least September, Bloomberg notes, and 60% of financial services executives say they are looking for ways to make more positions remote permanently, according to American Banker.
At the same time, many consumers are turning to digital banking solutions that eliminate the need to visit bank or credit union branches. In an article for The Financial Brand, Jim Marous noted that the COVID-19 crisis has made consumers “increasingly aware of the digital solutions providers who were empathetic to their need for simplicity and transparency.”
As both workplace and consumer behaviors change, it is becoming increasingly critical for banks and credit unions to make operational investments that remove friction points for their employees, no matter where everyone is working. This in turn will empower employees to deliver exceptional experiences to customers who more and more are seeking streamlined customer service and seamless digital interactions.
Importance of Creating Knowledge Engagement
One of the first steps financial institutions should take to improve both the employee and customer experience is to invest in an organization-wide knowledge engagement strategy. True knowledge engagement goes beyond publishing company policies and FAQs in a static intranet.
It requires organizations to invest in technology that enables employees to easily access and contribute knowledge in all its formats, from any location. It also requires company leaders to promote a culture of knowledge sharing, which may include the following steps:
- Encouraging employees to document anything that might benefit their co-workers, from standard operating procedures to best practices learned through years of experience.
- Guiding employees to ask and answer all questions in a central repository or knowledge engagement platform where everyone can benefit from the information exchanged.
- Giving all employees access to the documented knowledge of different teams and departments.
An effective knowledge engagement strategy improves the employee experience by ensuring employees in every department can access and leverage the information they need to do their best work, no matter where they’re working. It eliminates information silos by creating one central, searchable place for all organizational knowledge and empowers employees to find the information they need, rather than going through an information gatekeeper.
” When employees have access to their organization’s collective intelligence, they’re better able to improve the customer experience.”
— Jordan Slabaugh, Bloomfire
When employees in every department have access to their organization’s collective intelligence, they’re better able to drive innovation and improve the customer experience. Consider this example: a customer service department at a bank uses a knowledge engagement platform to build a growing customer FAQ library and centralize all customer-facing information. This makes it easier for frontline customer service reps to quickly find the information they need to assist customers. It also gives employees in every department visibility into the questions and issues customers are sharing, which can fuel new ideas for everything from new service offerings and marketing materials to product improvements.
Here’s a real world example of a company successfully implementing a knowledge engagement strategy: MetLife has used its knowledge engagement platform, Bloomfire, to centralize all COVID-19 syndicated, internal, and news content that is relevant to its markets.
The company uses the knowledge engagement platform to distribute crisis research and video content to internal stakeholders across the organization, allowing everyone to make informed decisions at a time when information is changing quickly. This has allowed its teams to stay agile and meet the changing needs of its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Field Guide to Navigating Flex Work
- How to Elevate the Credit Union Member Experience Through Knowledge Sharing
- 4 Change Management Lessons to Help Financial Services Companies Grow
Building a Data-Driven Culture
A data-driven culture, which places data at the center of decision-making processes, is crucial at a time when consumer mindsets and behaviors are changing quickly. Financial institutions that have successfully built a data-driven culture are able to use data to generate insights which drive faster and smarter business decisions, ultimately leading to a better customer experience. The return on investment can be significant. According to Richard Joyce, Senior Analyst at Forrester, a 10% increase in data accessibility will yield more than $65 million in additional net income for a typical Fortune 1000 company.
In addition to contributing to the bottom line, having a data-driven culture empowers employees to use data and insights to optimize processes and make confident decisions. Centralized data and insights also help provide a holistic view of the customer, ensuring that employees in every department have the information they need to help shape a positive customer experience.
The following actions can help instill a data-driven culture:
- Democratize data and insights by giving all employees access to relevant research and reports. (This should be part of a knowledge engagement strategy.)
- Communicate the business value of data from the top down. Identify executive champions who can lead by example and promote the value of data-driven decision-making across the organization.
- Provide training in data literacy and research methods to internal stakeholders when needed.
- Work with data science and market research teams to package data and insights in a way that’s digestible for non-researchers. For example, a market research team could add calls to action for different stakeholder groups when sharing insights through their knowledge engagement platform.
Promoting a data-driven culture can help improve collaboration across teams and lines of business, eliminate bottlenecks, and uncover new opportunities for innovation. For instance, Capital One democratizes data and insights across their entire organization leveraging Bloomfire, giving employees the opportunity to learn from existing research into customer behavior. Different groups are able to build on one another’s data, and decision-makers gain a deeper understanding of the customer journey.
Empowering Frontline Employees
When discussing changes to improve the employee experience, it’s important not to overlook the experience of front-line employees. Whether these employees are working at a contact center, branch, or from home, they need to feel that they’re aligned with the larger organization and have all the tools they need to deliver the best possible service. Frontline employees are the faces of their financial service organizations and investing in their employee experience can have a direct impact on the customer experience.
In addition to giving frontline employees access to the same centralized knowledge as corporate employees, financial services organizations should also invest in onboarding programs and continuous learning and development opportunities. Front-line employees should receive training on all the tools and technology they need to leverage customer information so they can confidently serve customers without transferring them to another staff member or putting them on a lengthy hold.
Third-party insurance administrator AGIA Affinity, is an excellent example of a company that has built front-line employee empowerment into their digital transformation strategy. The company uses Bloomfire across its operations center to centralize all policies, procedures, and other customer-facing information, and it has built checkpoint quizzes into the platform to allow frontline employees to measure their comprehension (and help trainers hold their trainees accountable for essential learning). As a result, the company has seen a 15% reduction in average onboarding time for new customer service employees and have also reduced the number of customer calls placed on hold by 50%.
As the Workplace Changes, Don’t Lose Sight of the Employee Experience
Companies in every industry are reckoning with rapidly changing business and consumer behaviors, and the financial services industry is no exception. As work becomes increasingly decentralized and financial transactions become increasingly digital, it’s essential not to lose sight of the importance of empowering employees with the tools they need to do their best work.
Organizations that invest in the employee experience have a distinct strategic advantage — in fact, research shows that companies with highly engaged employees outperform competitors by 147%. And in a world changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial institutions that commit to promoting exceptional employee and customer experiences will stand above the rest.