Unlock capacity and improve profitability through cultural transformation
Address challenges in client service operations
A leading global bank was facing 30% additional unplanned growth in client investment portfolios and transactions, largely due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Combined with a rapid shift to remote working, this was causing significant challenges, impacting quality of client delivery and risking damaging the bank’s reputation for great client service. In order to maintain a competitive advantage, the bank needed to swiftly address the capacity challenges.
Following a prompt diagnostic review, the key levers to developing increased capacity were identified:
- Implementation of world class operational practices to improve productivity
- Simplifying and addressing processes issues
- Shifting working culture to empower employees to understand what aspects of service were most important for clients, and how employees could improve client service delivery
The bank wanted to focus capacity and improvement efforts in two key locations, on different continents: Both locations faced individual challenging circumstances, but shared an objective to deliver a 15% capacity uplift at a neutral cost.
The deployment required a broad set of expertise in operations and delivery, client service improvement and cultural and behavioural change. Gobeyond Partners collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders, from heads of location through to junior team members, to support the design and implementation of effective operational practices and productivity improvements. The engagement team worked in partnership with front-line staff to introduce operational practices tailored to each location, and helped to embed a culture of process ownership and improvement.
For different reasons, both sites were struggling to service client demand in their onboarding, settlements, and custody functions. One location suffered from ongoing gaps in IT modernisation, persistent backlogs and a lack of capacity to successfully make changes that would deliver outstanding client services. The other location was already dealing with multiple large-scale projects, along with system upgrades and balancing conflicting service delivery and improvement priorities.
As the issues were occurring simultaneously, this was causing strain on the organisation and its people, to the extent that five weeks into the remedial programme, a pause was requested. All options and outcomes were explored: Ultimately, the team concluded that pausing and restarting would be more consequential than continuing. The team decided to continue to invest effort into the programme in order to stabilise the operation and deliver long-term benefits as soon as possible.
Changing culture and empowering employees
The programme of work was designed around the needs of the teams and clients. The focus was on delivering operational capabilities to address the challenge of multiple existing work streams and priorities. Cross-learning and training helped build long-term capabilities and close knowledge gaps. Managers were coached in leadership practices, allowing them to move away from production, to support, coach and lead their teams.
This was followed by dedicated process improvement to identify the root causes of inefficiencies and further build on capacity benefits. Team members were developed to become effective problem owners and solvers.
There was an initial level of scepticism from staff about the cultural changes required: Broad engagement in the solution, clear communication of the goal, as well as a plan to capitalise on early ‘quick wins’ ensured that staff were fully bought in to the programme and became strong advocates. As the engagement progressed, the culture of the teams began to positively shift, enabling even the most junior team members to identify and own improvements to client service.
Crucially, the core programme objectives for both sites were achieved, exceeding the 15% capacity improvement target and delivering an equivalent $1.9M of annualised benefitA substantial and lasting impact on capacity, backlog reduction and quality of client service were successfully implemented in both sites. Collaboration from the outset enabled a change of culture, empowering staff and ensuring that world class operational practices were maintained, delivering further benefits long after the formal conclusion of the programme.
Additional benefits achieved were:
- Overtime reduced by 75%
- 1,200 work hours a month saved through implementation of process improvements and world class operational practices
- Successful transitioning to ‘work from home’, with minimal impact to quality of client service
- An empowered workforce, with a culture of ownership and improvement that has continued to find and deliver benefits
At the conclusion of the programme, there were some important lessons that the bank adopted to aid with future transformation programmes:
- Ensure buy-in to the vision: Collaborating across the organisation, from junior employees to senior stakeholders. Ensuring full collaboration on designing the changes and taking onboard feedback.
- Focus on client service: Harnessing client feedback and employees’ desire to serve their clients. Channelling this into practical measures to improve client services, such as quality, turnaround times, and the ability to smoothly cope with unexpected volumes.
- Be pragmatic: There are times when it all seemed ‘too much to handle’. Taking a balanced approach; maintaining focus on key deliverables, but reprioritising objectives where required and flexibly amending the programme to ensure the overall goal is achieved.
- Take the initiative: There is never an ‘ideal’ time to undertake transformative change. However, the sooner change is undertaken, the sooner the organisation can reap the benefits and be better placed to tackle future challenges.
In this project, we worked closely with multiple client stakeholders, at all levels, to develop an approach that delivered outstanding, transformative change for the bank. Here’s what they had to say on the partnership:
“In 20 years with the bank, this has been the best collaboration I’ve ever seen. Really enjoyed it, even found it fun. Very open, honest, and challenging” Head of Country
“We achieved great progress across all my teams. Allowing the time to discuss and problem solve issues is a really good enabler to achieving improvements” Senior Manager
“I was struck by the consistent positive feedback. You’ve managed to change cynics into believers.” Head of Continent
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