Anna Roughley

Head of Insight & Support

With every aspect of life disrupted as we learn to live side-by-side with a global health emergency, there has never been a more important time for financial service firms to provide reassurance, continuity and tailored outcomes for individual customers and businesses. How can banks ensure their teams are providing this level of service to every customer?

The introduction of a new tier system and local lockdowns is causing confusion for communities as measures are implemented across the UK at varying levels. As a result, the challenge facing firms and their frontline staff is greater than ever before. Having an awareness of the various rules under the tier system and how they are affecting different areas is a challenge but one that will set firms in good stead as they consider the differing customer impacts and needs.

Branch and call centre teams are likely to have different customer experiences as the country transitions though tiers.  Tier three is similar to the original lockdown period and banks should therefore be better placed to implement the changes required to adapt to the restrictions this time round.  Many have taken lessons learned on board through post implementation reviews, but what else can banks do to make sure that their frontline staff are equipped to guide businesses and personal banking customers through the new normal?

Using the branch network as an example, those operating within a tier three community will likely feel the intensity of the impact to the local customer base. New vulnerabilities are emerging, those that may not have been vulnerable before may now be, businesses are trying to find ways to survive and mental health and well-being concerns mount in the face of isolation.

Creating virtual branch communities at tier level provides the opportunity for the network to quickly identify and share new trends and emerging risks in relation to customer impacts and operational challenges. This forum also allows the community to share insights and innovation around how these have been overcome, such as proactively supporting customers and keeping branches open.

Not only could a ‘virtual hub’ offer agility in respect of sharing tried and tested solutions or experiences, it also provides the support network for employees to explore suggestions on current challenges they face.  Collating key points from these should be provided within the feedback loop to management and the second line, highlighting how the restrictions are impacting personal and business customers.  This creates a support structure to other transitioning branches as they move into a new tier. Insights and a ‘knowledge pack’ could be swiftly shared outlining what they may expect in this new stage.

A similar model could be implemented by relationship managers in business teams who will have a wealth of first-hand experience of the impacts of COVID, invaluable to other relationship managers and teams who could be based hundreds of miles away.  Key information could also be drawn upon and provided to contact centres who are managing high volumes of calls from customers across the country in various tiers, affected in very different ways.  Importantly, customers seeking assistance via digital channels, such as web chat, should also benefit from the insights gathered and disseminated.

As we continue to navigate this landscape, moving through the many iterations of the new normal, banks must support their people. The power of shared experience, learning and listening creates a much needed sense of community during uncertain times for both colleagues and customers.