How engaging the back office can improve your bank’s CX

In this environment, the back office participates as a valued partner in defining the strategic approach for the end-to-end delivery of a product.

Traditionally, the back office of many financial institutions focused on a transaction-centric approach, largely reactionary and subordinate to client-facing roles in the front office. But positioning the back office in a product-centric model that promotes collaboration of cross-functional teams to create better end-to-end experiences for customers can deepen those important relationships in an increasingly competitive environment.

In a product-centric environment, the back office participates as a valued partner in defining the strategic approach for the end-to-end delivery of a product, rather than simply reacting to requests from the front office.

The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital capabilities, and in a product-centric model, the back office is positioned to advise partners on potential product iterations that can effectively achieve customer engagement across platforms and drive success for the business.

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For example, when the back office builds a model that has the right infrastructure to support business needs throughout the maturity of the product, a product-centric approach allows the team to preemptively address important factors such as pressure points from a controls perspective, seasonality adjustments, upgrades and product iterations, and other factors reliant on back-office support.

By shifting the relationship from reactive to collaborative, the back office no longer focuses on purely transactional work, but plays an integral role enhancing the customer experience and contributing to growth.

Working toward a shared purpose not only provides direction, but also establishes a sense of meaning and fulfillment. By breaking down silos and bringing cross-functional teams together, product-centric models create opportunity for stronger dialogue between product and back-office partners. Working together toward the same purpose creates a shared experience between teams and a better end-to-end experience for customers.

With the impact of the pandemic, it’s become even more vital for banks to meet customers where they want to engage. A product-centric model can help achieve that. Product simplification and streamlined processes reduce unnecessary complexities and enable teams to respond to the shift in customer interaction and product delivery preferences quickly and effectively, and in turn, deploy enhancements to optimize the customer experience.

Traditionally thought of as stationary and change-resilient, back offices that are structured in a product-centric model are positioned to pivot from siloed teams working a variety of large initiatives and projects to smaller, cross-functional teams dedicated to agile deliveries designed with speed to market and focused on innovation.

A product-centric model enables back-office functions to remove barriers, create flexibility and institute new ways of working that encourage employees to quickly correct course to meet evolving customer expectations and, through the agile framework, set the foundation to effectively manage and influence large-scale change at financial institutions.

While aligning the back office by product is good for customers, it also helps foster an environment of continuous learning and development for employees that can generate enormous value and impact. As the financial services industry delivers more personalized and customized experiences to meet changing customer demands and expectations, continued talent development is critical to stay relevant and competitive.

In a product-centric environment, teams can focus on the product at hand and what it takes to deliver and enhance it, developing subject matter expertise and fostering innovation across the entire lifecycle of the product. This model also provides opportunities to cross-train employees who are already familiar with similar products, building stronger resiliency within teams and stability within processes.

Many employees are operating in a remote environment due to COVID-19. A product-centric model enables focused learning and development to enhance the skills of employees based on the product in which they support, fostering a sense of connectivity and purpose.

Financial institutions must create a culture for continuous learning, development and improvement to prepare and support evolving customer expectations and deliver connected experiences. By nurturing an inclusive and supportive environment where employees are given the opportunity to fail safe and fail fast, financial institutions can build high-performing teams that manage change with poise and confidence, regardless of their work location.

Financial institutions with product-centric, back-office functions can better innovate, deliver speed to market, and create end-to-end customer experiences that drive organizational growth. In this capacity, the back office is a competitive advantage and an enabler of innovation, as opposed to being a cost of doing business.

Stephan Schenk is head of shared services at TD Bank.