This article was originally published in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Record.
Customer-facing professionals are likely to use the latest smartphones and tablets with advanced user interfaces in their daily lives. They drag and drop, double tap or even speak to their mobile devices to get things done. However, when they are at work, they are forced to use dated software and technologies. The complexities of this older software make it difficult for front-end staff to engage with customers and complete tasks, making them less enthusiastic in their roles.
Banks branches and their contact centres are overcoming these issues by implementing unified front end (UFE) solutions, which consolidate the user interface of all banking functionalities into one application. UFE applications have one login and one navigation menu, and they are intuitive and easy to use for front-end staff. Although users see a unified interface, the UFE simply acts as a thin layer that connects the back-end systems and applications, which all stay the same.
UFE solutions can also help banks to modernise the employee experience and align it with the types of user interfaces of the applications that they are familiar with interacting with in their personal lives. When bank associates have a piece of software they love that makes daily tasks easier to perform, they have much more time to engage with customers. In fact, banks see benefits in three key areas when they roll out UFE in branches and contact centres.
First, UFE cuts the costs of various operations. For example, VeriPark’s clients can now fulfil customer requests between 17% and 48% more quickly because their staff are only using one application, rather than several. In addition, UFE enables banks to authenticate users and transactions via biometrics, debit card pin validation or smartphone-based passwords. This eliminates the expensive step of signature and transaction verification.
The second benefit of UFE is that it minimises operational mistakes made by employees. Banks can use the UFE application’s in-built engine to manage and change operational rules. Importantly, because the applications integrate with back-end systems – such as the customer relationship management (CRM) and data warehouse platforms – banks can even implement complex business rules while the transactions are running. For example, if the bank changes the minimum income requirement for loan products in the rule engine, the UF application will check the salary mentioned in the transaction and alert the bank associate. Similarly, the UFE can surface alerts about a customer, such as an expired ID or a missing mandatory field, so the bank associate can rectify the issue.
Finally, the third significant benefit of UFE is that it helps tellers turn into sellers because they can spend more time engaging with customers and finding ways to increase the bank’s wallet share. UFE applications have integrated machine learning models that predict what ‘next best actions’ sales associates should present to individual customers, enabling them to suggest relevant products or services. Without these systems providing guided selling assistance, sales associates do as they’ve always done and try to drive sales in areas where the bank is missing targets. For example, an associate may offer a customer a credit card if the bank is missing sales targets on that product, without realising that the customer cancelled their credit card the month before. This type of sales attempt is valuable to nobody – and it annoys the customer.
However, when banks use ‘tellers as sellers’ initiatives and machine learning-based guided selling systems, associates can suggest relevant products – such as card upgrades, limit increases and top ups – and banks can start seeing high conversion rates of up to 14% on product offers. VeriPark has already seen successful implementations that have enabled bank associates to conclude product sales within 200 seconds.
UFEs also have multiple intangible benefits, particularly when it comes to enhancing the employee experience, reducing training times and improving client interactions. Although they don’t need to be, UFEs built into a CRM application can certainly help banks to transform from product-centric to customer-centric organisations.
Özkan Erener is CEO at VeriPark
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