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Carl Helling, Regional Director, Financial Services, UK & Ireland at Riverbed Technology

Financial institutions have focused a huge amount of budget and energy towards enhancing the digital aspects of their infrastructure over the past few years. With customer expectations shifting, banks have been put under pressure to provide fast, reliable and secure solutions to cater for today’s digitally savvy consumer base.

The evolution from ATMs to fingerprint payments has been a swift one, and massive strides have been made in the realms of both customer experience and internal efficiency. The automation of low-value, high-frequency transactions has been of huge benefit to banks, freeing up time for staff to focus their attention on face-to-face interactions that hold much higher value, such as mortgage or loan applications.

Despite the rapid advances in both consumer and employee-facing systems, there is a deep-rooted issue that plagues customer and employee experience, hiding itself in unwritten emails and unread call logs. Archaic and slow networks.

If a customer needs to make their way to the teller’s desk, you’ll often find the poor cashier sat there struggling with a computer that is taking ages to download simple customer data. He or she will often also apologise for the “slow running system today”. This ultimately results in a lose-lose situation for all involved – the customer loses valuable time from their day and has a poor ‘customer journey’, and the cashiers have a more stressful work environment and will be blamed for the slow service. In financial institutions, poor IT performance directly in front of customers can be devastating to brand reputation and consumer trust.

So why is nothing being done to solve the issue? We know, from our experience with other sectors such as retail, that technology exists to remedy the situation. The issue lies in the workforce accepting “slow” as the way it has always been and the subsequent issue of this not being reported to the relevant IT support functions. In an environment where staff are struggling even to keep customers satisfied, it is rare for them to take the time out to report IT slowness that has been accepted as ‘normal’. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle of unsatisfied customers and employees alike, leaving the IT business units powerless to make any meaningful change.

The answer? Give the power back to the IT organisation. This can be achieved by implementing visibility solutions that are able to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies throughout their network. By doing this, CIOs will give their IT support teams the ability to put out fires before they appear. Bypassing the reliance on the stretched end-users, to build a more proactive and agile IT infrastructure, is key in enabling the entire workforce to focus on their designated job roles. Moreover, it also enables IT to reduce delays that impact productivity, before they happen and ensures improved application performance and end-user experience.

Ultimately, in today’s market where banks need to keep pace with the increasingly demanding user expectations of immediate accessibility, it is vital that they look within themselves. After all, it is impossible to deliver a first-class digital service if your IT department haven’t been kept informed or are not armed with the right tools that provide them with the visibility over the entire network and 3rd party ecosystem.

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