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Improving the Employees’ Experience at Financial Institutions

Editor’s note: This feature originally appeared in the October issue of MReport.

Most organizations are happy to commit resources to improve customer experiences due to the obvious effect that customers have on a company’s bottom line. It is no different for financial institutions, who have continued to place a strong emphasis on providing customers with superior user experience. These institutions invest in new technologies, branch redesigns, stronger security, and more all focused on better customer service and achieving a higher return on investment (ROI) with a meaningful impact on the financial institution itself. 

But isn’t it equally important to allot resources to the employee’s user experience? 

The customer’s experience hinges on the happiness of the financial institution’s employees, so allocating time, money and effort into improving the employee’s user experience should also be top of mind for financial institutions.


The Need for Tech

All too often, financial institutions are completely unaware of the impact an employee’s user experience has on their customer’s overall experience. In most cases, placing more emphasis on the employee’s user experience can be significant to the institution’s success. 

Any person using technology of any kind has high expectations—the staff at any financial institution are no different making it imperative to consider the employee’s experience when choosing and implementing technologies that their employees will use on a daily basis. Why? Because today’s consumer—whether employee or customer—finds a mediocre user experience intolerable. 

Additionally, if a person has a negative user experience, customers do not hesitate to switch to a competitor. The same goes for employees of a financial institution. If the employees find their daily technology making their jobs more difficult than they perceive it should be, they push for an implementation of a new solution or they might look for another job. In fact, the banking and finance industry has an 18.6% turnover rate, which is one of the highest among all industries, according to a Compdata survey.

When a solution is hard to use and is not making employee’s jobs easier, they often are not using the product to the employer’s intent and ultimately end up wasting money for the financial institution, and when a solution is hard to navigate, too much time is wasted on learning how to use the solution and training new employees. In this case, a high ROI can’t be achieved because employees are not fulfilling the functionality of the product the financial institution invested in.


Advantage Employees

To improve the employee experience, financial institutions must truly understand their employee’s frustrations with existing technology while trying to do simple daily tasks. Failure to do so will undoubtedly result in reduced productivity within the workplace. In fact, a report by the IBM Institute of Business Value states, “With this greater reliance on software-based tools comes a host of issues that, left unaddressed, can increase employee frustration and reduce productivity.” 

Compounding this problem, consider that most financial institutions have many extremely complex technology solutions which increase the risk of a poor employee user experience and frustrated staff. Although employees are seeking advanced, top-of-the-line solutions, financial institutions frequently don’t realize the complexity of using it. 

To understand how to create a positive user experience for their employees, financial institutions must go beyond looking at the overarching uses of the solution and thoroughly examine the employee’s day-to-day uses of it to ensure it is working to their benefit. Employees often feel resentment towards the technology they are using. This can stem from the delay of a solution requiring data entry by hand rather than the use of simple import functions or automated entirely. 

Employees expect solutions with high levels of automation that make their jobs easier because they know these options are available. 

Another cause for employee frustration is when processes have to be completed in spreadsheets because the core product is not capable of providing the needed functionality. Over time, these spreadsheets become extremely difficult to manage or audit and as a result become less reliable and a tremendous time sink.


The Other Perspective

Knowing the inner workings of a company’s technology helps employers provide their staff with the right tools to do their jobs. Increased efficiency of decision making processes, automation, dashboards, and intuitive solutions will result in employees feeling empowered. 

On the employer’s side, understanding how a new product will impact employees before the implementation is critical because changing systems after such an implementation may not be possible. By giving users a tool that allows them to do their job better and more easily, employees will be able to do more thereby providing a greater likelihood of achieving the goals set for the new system. 

When considering new technology we should ask, are employees using the existing solution to its fullest capability? If the staff had a choice between using new technology or figuring out a different way to complete their tasks, what would they choose? 

When employees are using the current solution and utilizing all its features, then they are more likely to be happier at work and produce better results for the institution and its customers. But, if they are avoiding the solution at all costs, then the financial institution should re-evaluate the technology and decide if a different one might yield better results for employees, their customers, and the overall bottom line.


A Peak Behind the Scenes

While customer experience is imperative, financial institutions need to place more emphasis on the employee’s user experience. When employees can utilize the solution more efficiently and effectively, the staff can parallel this experience to the financial institution’s customers. 

Improving the user experience of employees may mean that financial institutions will need to re-evaluate and upgrade to new, modern solutions, but reducing frustration and improving their employee’s user experience behind the scenes can often mean the difference in a higher ROI or an unsuccessful financial institution.

About Author: Brian Lynch

Brian Lynch is President and Founder of Irvine, California-based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and financial management tools for the mortgage industry. More information on the company can be found at MortgageAccounting.com.

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