The days when financial institutions could deliver services based on their own corporate agendas are long gone. Banking in the 21st century has put the customer in the driver’s seat. Increased competition, stringent regulations and the sheer abundance of choices mean it’s now “all about the customer” and established banks are finally working with fintech organizations to tackle this digital disruption challenge. Personalization is at the forefront of this movement. For banks to deliver a truly personalized customer experience, they must first abandon their “inside-out” approach and gain a better understanding of how customers consume services and how to deliver across multiple platforms.

What’s the holdup?

When it comes to personalization, banks are seriously lagging behind. E-commerce sites have provided a personalized customer experience for years, presenting offers based on customer preferences (not what the retailer prefers to sell). In one click, the transaction is completed and the data collected from the transaction is used to further segment customer preferences. A win-win.

As technology advances, so do customer expectations for a fast and seamless experience with their bank. The gap between systems of engagement (the point of customer interaction, i.e., the bank’s website, email, mobile apps) and systems of record (the bank’s line of business systems, i.e., core banking system, CRM, BPM/workflow) is perhaps the greatest barrier to delivering a standout customer engagement experience. Further, established banks struggle to create an omnichannel experience that takes advantage of front and back office synergies.

Pick up the pace 

In recent years, financial institutions have primarily focused on customer-facing, front-end systems such as the bank’s website, customer portals and mobile apps. These newer tools empower customers to carry out everyday banking tasks wherever and whenever they wish. A boon for the industry but not necessarily the Holy Grail when it comes to creating an exceptional customer experience. It’s the less-glamorous back office that provides the ability to transform “straight-through processing” of transactions, those in which workers perform manual repetitive tasks like updating multiple systems.

Robotic Process Automation or RPA is the emerging technology embraced by both IT and business groups within enterprise organizations. The Institute for Robotic Process Automation defines RPA as “the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”

RPA software robots essentially mimic how a worker would interact with various systems to collect, retrieve and deliver information. These could include websites, portals, modern applications, legacy systems, and even desktop tools like Microsoft Excel. RPA sits on top of existing technology It complements an organization’s legacy systems, increasing their functionality without disrupting the day-to-day business operations or creating the need for major transformational projects which could cost millions and take years to complete.

When you think about it, core retail banking is all about repeatable actions and processes, so RPA is a natural fit in facilitating the connection between both environments which allows the back office to “catch up” to front office processes.

Automate for a better bottom line 

According to industry experts, human interaction accounts for two to five errors per 100 tasks. With the implementation of RPA, banks can experience productivity gains of 25-50% compounded across thousands of transactions, enabling greater agility. An RPA solution will streamline operations, reducing manual labor overhead, increasing data quality and improving compliance and standardization.

Banks built for the future are counting on the speed, accuracy and efficiency afforded by RPA to create a competitive advantage that capitalizes on personalization and improving the customer experience.

Written by Darren Collins