In an environment where financial services consumers expect to conduct transactions via multiple channels in a seamless manner, customer experience initiatives take on an even grater priority, says Gabriel Sanchez Iniesta, CIO of BBVA Compass.
"An increasing number of customers are demanding to bank any way they want; they don’t want to be exclusively tied to the branch," he adds. "They want a new way to interact with their bank, and use technology-based solutions."
Iniesta adds that the rise of nontraditional competitors in the area of payments and other spaces highlights the importance for banks to prioritize customer experience. "We see them as competitors," he says of nontraditional players in financial services. "They have the opportunity to reach a large amount of people and we have to be aware of that."
For this reason, not only is customer experience a big focus for the Birmingham, Ala.-based bank, but also moving towards what Iniesta calls a "digital transformation."
"We need to bring the bank to the customers and make all channels viable, not just the branch," he adds.
BBVA Compass underwent a complete core systems upgrade last year, and Iniesta says the bank is taking advantage of that to help pursue its goals of channel integration and digital.
"Omnichannel is a word everyone is using, maybe with different meanings," explains Iniesta. "For us it means we have to be able to deliver the same experience to our customers no matter what the channel. It has the have the BBVA Compass DNA across all the channels."
One big project related to this initiative for the bank is a new branch concept it calls "drive-thru banking" where customers can summon remote tellers via devices with high-definition screens that double as full-service ATMs.
Customers at the these locations can opt for full-service assistance from a teller, operate the units in self-service mode like an ATM, or select an assisted mode, where the tellers can guide them through their transactions.
The remote tellers, based in the bank's call center in San Antonio, are available during business hours and can be summoned at the touch of a button. The tellers also can identify customers as account-holders without the use of ATM or debit cards by verifying the customer's information.
Currently, BBVA Compass is testing the concept at three of its Houston-area locations. But Iniesta says it could be expanded if it proves to catch on with customers, which BBVA research indicates is already the case. According to the bank, during the pilot customers are being asked to rate their transactions, and 96 percent reported that they would use the service again.
"Th ATM is a great self-service channel, so we are looking to increase the functions and transactions the customer will be able to make through the ATM channel," says Iniesta. "But when it comes to resolving problems, what we learned is our customers are demanding the human touch, so with this we are combining both the traditional and self-service approach. We are very excited about this concept. Hopefully it can succeed, we see it as a very good way of improving the customer experience."
Another priority for BBVA Compass this year is improving speed-to-market, which Iniesta says the new core system will also help greatly with. "We want to deliver new products quickly and with a low production cost as well. Everything has to be in real-time; not batch."
Iniesta believes doing things quickly, efficiently and with a customer-focused approach is the only way banks will be able to survive and thrive in the new world of increased competition and more demanding customer expectations.
"The challenges it is we are facing here at Compass are the same you are going to face in the banking arena wherever you go," he says.