CIBC, First Citrus, Bridgeable discuss digital transformation

Legacy banks are struggling to transform their brick-and-mortar ecosystems to fit into an increasingly digital world. How do they do it? And more importantly, how do they do it without alienating customers who are accustom to one-on-one interactions?

Those were just a couple of questions addressed by Nika Stelman last week during a panel at the Bank Customer Experience Summit in Chicago.

“As a customer, I don’t care how a bank is organized,” said the director of design strategy at Bridgeable, a service design consultancy that deals with financial institutions as well as other companies. “I care about how and when my problem is going to be dealt with.”

The panel, moderated by Bill Stutzman, director of strategic initiatives at Ventus Global Network Solutions, focused on the evolution of digital banking.

“Whether I walk into a branch, or I call in, or I want to use the chat function, I want all of those things to work seamlessly,” Stelman said. “I don’t want it to be confusing.”

Advice centers

As the fifth-largest bank in Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce recognizes that some customers adjust to online banking at a different pace than others. It is all about education.

When talking about digital, banks cannot forget, there are a lot of customers who need to be educated about what is available and how that can help them to become more efficient in their banking, said Leslie Martinez-Moreno, CIBC’s senior manager of user experience and design for secure banking at CIBC.

“Yet, many customers still expect the same user experience as if they were interacting person to person,” she said during the session.

To make the digital transition easier on them, CIBC has transformed some of its branches into advice centers by adding more advisors.

“They are teaching them how to use digital, so they don’t feel left alone,” she said.

A new kind of employee

First Citrus Bank in Tampa, Florida, is tackling the problem in a unique way. Jessica Kendall Hornof, the bank’s EVP of retail banking, said although First Citrus has always been an advice center, it’s now looking for a “different caliber associate,” who can understand the bank’s clientele.

As she explained, the demographic in Tampa is a “bit older.”

“We are trying to get people who really understand the digital, and we are hiring non-bankers, which I think is something new in our industry,” she said.

At First Citrus branches, the focus is on guiding customers through their questions and giving them the best advice. As Hornof explained, a lot of banking customers don’t have a desktop or a laptop, so it is all about letting them know what other options are available.

“We are not pushing them out of the branch and onto digital, but educating them that there is another channel available,” she said. “We want our customers to be able to bank when they want to, how they want to and with whom they want to, whether is is with the mobile app, the online browser or mobile phone.”

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