My last of a 3-part series on automation in banking and financial services covers refocusing and training workers for the critical skills needed in a digital, customer-centric world. Like the first two, this blog stems from the panel discussion “The human vs. the automated: understanding where each adds value,” at the recent Future of Digital Banking conference in London.
As part of any enterprise-wide initiative to adopt automation and digital processes, finance executives with their human resource staff need to be proactive about identifying new categories of jobs and the traits and skills required to fill those positions. These jobs should complement and take advantage of artificial intelligence and automation and, equally important, align with the company’s strategic goals. For example, employees who had been involved in a basic transaction operation can be trained and redeployed to become process experts on an entire line of operations. Data entry specialists can be trained to become data insight experts.
With more reliance on automation, it’s also important to remember that systems will fail or break down due to a variety of reasons. Technology pioneers such as airlines who already run on automated systems have built in disaster recovery and contingency planning to cope with system breakdowns. Banks and investment firms should take note and ensure that workers are trained to monitor system operations, keep an eye out for trouble and intervene or step in with manual processes when computers fail. It won’t be a matter of if, but a matter of when that training will save the day. Customer-facing employees can be retrained to interact and serve social media outlets as well as traditional customer contact channels. Initial plans and implementations can be continually influenced and shaped by ongoing customer and staff feedback and real-world operational experiences.
As I stressed in my last blog, companies will primarily need to retrain and refocus more of their workforce to successfully handle person-to-person interactions and develop a better sense of customer empathy. Humans are at their best ferreting out and understanding the complete picture involved in complex or emotion-laden customer issues—and taking the initiative to solve problems. This vital work can only be done by skilled, trained staff.
We all need to recognize that new skills will be needed in this customer-centric digital world. Recognizing that reality means taking the time and effort to create clear, comprehensive job descriptions and define the attributes and talents these jobs require. It means taking the time to think about how to successfully recruit people with the latest digital skills. It also means encouraging the professional growth of existing employees by providing them with the time and resources to take on new responsibilities and enhance their skills and knowledge.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on the impact of automation in financial services and would be very interested in hearing about your experiences and opinions.