Banking reimagined: How Citizens Bank plans to stay ahead in a digital landscape

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At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Bank—like many companies across different industries—found itself activating digital transformation plans that were still under development. In our webinar with American Banker, How one of America’s oldest banks is reshaping experiences in the digital age, Marissa Morris, SVP, digital banking portfolio execution manager, and Kelly Mittiga, head of consumer contact centers at Citizens Bank, joined Chris Condon, global head of BFSI at TTEC, in explaining how Citizens Bank is adapting to its customers’ and colleagues’ (the company’s term for employees) new digital needs and expectations.

Employee retention innovations

In such a competitive hiring market, retaining “skilled employees, especially from a technology perspective,” is a priority, Morris noted. This is where innovative approaches such as enabling customers to seamlessly interact with the bank at a branch and online as well as offering a FLEX labor model can help increase retention by providing employees with opportunities to learn new skills, Mittiga added. “Our incentive plan is aligned with our digital strategy and of course our coaching routines have all been revamped to support that effort, so it's been an organization-wide effort.”

Faced with incredibly high call volumes and branches that were in lock down, Citizens Bank made the unprecedented move of quickly training tellers to support their contact center counterparts. “The branch [colleagues] really rallied to support the contact center and we were able to connect hundreds of colleagues with our team to start taking calls, which made a significant difference to the customer experience,” Mittiga said.

The FLEX labor pilot worked so well that the company is exploring opportunities to train more colleagues to perform contact center tasks when foot traffic at branches is slow. “This is a great way to help colleagues expand on their skill set and work full-time and so it's a real win-win,” Mittiga noted.

Customer adoption of digital channels

Convincing customers who are “less inclined” to use digital channels is the “biggest challenge” that Citizens Bank’s contact center agents face, Mittiga said. The Bank is developing more training and processes to help agents address customer concerns and assist them in transitioning to mobile banking, messaging, and other digital channels. “It’s about having those processes in place for the VIP coaching routines and helping our colleagues have those conversations with our customers,” she said.

Looking ahead

Even though some customers are still reluctant to embrace online banking, Citizens Bank is seeing enormous growth in its mobile and online banking adoption rates, Morris said, and the company will continue to develop those areas. “In 2020, 70% of all Citizens banking transactions took place on a mobile device, which was 65% higher than the previous year,” she said. “That tells us that we’ve got to have a really good product to be able to really engage digitally.’

Indeed, “from a digital standpoint, having a roadmap to then execute on for accelerating and re-prioritizing was a huge advantage,” Condon noted. Prior to the pandemic, Citizens Bank was in the early stages of improving its app as well as implementing digital channels like mobile messaging, which proved to be useful in diverting traffic from overwhelmed phone lines. Looking ahead, the company plans to “dive into” AI-powered chat bots, virtual assistants, and other AI tools over the next 18 months to “truly help the customer where and when they want help,” Morris added.

Watch the on-demand webinar, How one of America’s oldest banks is reshaping experiences in the digital age, here.