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The Digital Disconnect

To Give Customers a Great User Experience, Your Employees Must Have One, Too

By Eric Crabtree and Weston Morris

There were roughly four apologies in five minutes from the well-meaning (but helpless) bank call center agent, recalled a bank IT executive in lamenting the plight of a fellow colleague. First, the agent had to run through another round of security questions, the same ones a colleague had just gone through minutes earlier. Then, the call center agent apologized because she only had access to the colleague’s personal account, and not his business account. Then, because the agent’s system was underperforming (a/k/a “so slow today”), she struggled to keep pace with the screens she wanted to walk him through. And ultimately, she had to transfer him to another agent, once again apologizing because he would likely have to answer those same security questions, once again. This is not unusual. Bank employees struggling with the shortcomings of yesterday’s end-user services model can hardly be expected to deliver on a seamless, customer-centric model. Many banks have invested heavily in digital banking advances and are seeing a welcome pay-off with customers. But raising customers’ digital banking experience can highlight a mismatch with outmoded employee user services.

What does that look like when it happens?

Consider a profitable customer of your rural branch, accustomed to doing business face-to-face. To meet this customer’s needs, your branch manager is skilled at using video-conferencing technology to remote-in business experts when needed, which puts an enormous premium on video working well all the time. But your branch manager is, after all, “just” a branch manager. When she reports a video outage, where does she rank in service desk priority? It only takes a couple of blank screen incidents to convince the customer he’s dealing with faceless technology, not a trusted adviser.

Many banks have invested in mobile banking technology to attract the hard-to-bank younger generations who will inherit baby boomers’ trillions. Consider the first time a newly banked Gen X-er calls the contact center about a problem with his mobile deposit app. He discovers that the call center agent has to take him through a different authentication process and she can’t see his recent activity – he has to explain it all to her. When she has to transfer him to another agent, he has to go through the whole process again.

What about the commercial lender who spends his day at prospective borrowers’ sites? He uses his tablet to access the bank’s database online so he can give his customers real-time answers – a big competitive advantage. When he can only access certain databases from his desktop and not his tablet, or when his tablet fails and he has to wait for IT to provision a new one, the delay can cost the bank a customer. That is why customer-focused banks are racing forward with innovative end-user services.

IT Persona Model

One of the first changes is to replace the old one-size-fits-all service desk model with an IT Persona Model in which IT delivers exactly what each employee needs to be productive. A persona-based system treats a finite resource – IT expertise – as a business resource to be allocated according to business needs. Every employee is associated with a specific persona based on that employee’s working habits, business processes, key performance indicators, attitudes toward technology and support, and the work experience desired. Once the banks’ personas are defined, effective technology profiles follow naturally – the devices and applications, the appropriate level and style of support, and the relevant levels of security.

User Self-Service  Self-service is an increasingly popular strategy for shifting problem resolution to the most cost-effective level of support. In their non-working lives today’s users are often tech-savvy, accustomed to acquiring and provisioning their personal devices, choosing and downloading apps, and trouble-shooting tech problems. Banks can satisfy their own capable end users by letting them self-provision their devices and giving them access to a virtual service desk where they can find information that tells them how to address problems they are likely to encounter. As for the productivity impact, imagine a new employee being provisioned with all the necessary devices and applications in an hour or so!  

Predictive Analytics
Many banks are also moving forward with predictive analytics to avert problems for end users. They capture data from employee behavior and the performance of their devices and apps and use it to detect potential problems before they interrupt employees’ work. Workers who must visit web sites in security-risk countries might be monitored to detect intrusion attempts. A new app with a bug, a device that tends to overheat under some circumstances, a part that tends to fail, or an app that generates excessive complaints – these are the opportunities where predictive analytics can help others avoid and/or address the problem.  

Proactive Automation
Predictive analytics lays the foundation to enable proactive automation, another valuable time and money saver. Many repairs and solutions that today must be delivered by field agents or live service desk agents can be automated and delivered to end users as soon as the problem is detected – and in many cases, before the end user even realizes there is a problem. Likely bank candidates for automation would include solving password problems, installing patches, running health checks on vulnerable devices, backing up devices or registering software. Which common problems take up 80% of help desk time? Those are the ones to automate and make instantly available.

Omni-Channel Management
End users also need transparent omni-channel management capability to satisfy customers. The contact center agent above was obviously at a disadvantage when the mobile customer needed help and she had to quiz him without being able to see the history of his problem from other channels. Tough problems typically get escalated across different channels. To solve them efficiently, end users must have access to full transparency and full history of problems, no matter what contact channels are used.

Customer loyalty depends heavily on an engaged, productive workforce. We knew that back in the analog age, so it should be no surprise that the digital age also relies on that fundamental truth. To achieve their digital transformation goals, banks need to meet employees’ and customers’ digital expectations. Banks will enjoy more productive employees, more satisfied customers, and valuable IT resources freed up for higher level pursuits.    

Eric Crabtree is global head of Financial Services, and Weston Morris is chief portfolio architect for End User Services at Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys Corporation. They can be reached at and

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