The banking sphere was not spared from the implications of COVID-19 with a myriad of issues to resolve. With branch closures, remote working, and increasing customer expectations, most banks’ digital transformation accelerated beyond everyone’s imaginations. Traditional, often-antiquated procedures in banks had to revamp and redefine their strategies to bridge offline with online while putting their customers and needs to the forefront.
UnionBank of the Philippines, a true leader in the information age, is known for its revolutionary digital innovations since 2016. Strong ahead of the competition, they empower their staff to upskill and engage with customers to deliver exceptional customer experience. The organization as a whole has a clear roadmap in place and in this exclusive interview with their VP & Customer Experience Designer, Ron Batisan, we find out how they grabbed the reigns of digital and anchored on customer success.
Ron will be speaking at NGCX Asia, in partnership with CXPA.
How has the focus shifted on equipping your workforce with the right skills and helping them become more agile in your digital transformation journey?
It started with a deep desire to uncover the needs and pain points of our customers and making sure we address them quickly. To achieve this, the whole organization has to have a customer-centric and agile mindset. I’ve been with UnionBank for the past 10 years and I’ve seen a tremendous change when it comes to People Transformation since we shifted our gear to digital transformation sometime in 2016. I completely agree with our Chief HR Officer, Michelle Rubio when she said that the success of our digital transformation is largely attributed to UnionBankers more than any investments in the latest technology and software. UnionBank invested in its people to become agile, open, forward-thinking, and innovative - a culture practiced by all UnionBankers, a complete organizational transformation.
How does the team foster a culture of innovation to play a strategic role in the business?
What’s unique about our organization is the openness of the leadership team with regard to innovation. It has become a way of life in UnionBank. The culture of innovation is ingrained in the projects and initiatives that we do. We are given the trust to experiment, make mistakes and learn from these lessons. We are not always bound by what traditional players are doing. We always think outside the box and make other industries outside of banking our benchmarks. With this innovative culture, we were able to launch relevant and game-changing projects quickly focused on offering superior customer experiences. The secret to me is that we don’t stop after launching these innovations. We continue to iterate and iterate based on customers’ feedback.
How has digital supported the marketing strategy of UnionBank?
I remember the statement of our President and CEO Edwin Bautista, who is one of the country’s Market Master, in one of our leadership sessions years ago. He said no bank in the Philippines has claimed “Best Digital Bank” yet and he said we should aim for it as our unique selling proposition. From then, the rest is history. Digital has supported our marketing strategy in a huge way. We have been the leader in digital transformation for the past 5 years already and this resonated well with the most important people in our lives, our customers. Our customers are very happy with the effects of this digital transformation and they even share these positive sentiments with their friends as evidenced by our very satisfactory Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction Score. They often talk about how easy it is to open an account with UnionBank digitally and how the UnionBank Online app is very easy to use with very relevant features like mobile check deposit, bill payment, funds transfer, etc. They also recognize the service given by our Branch Ambassadors who taught them how to use the app and self-service machines and advised them about financial products relevant to them.
What are some factors to ensure that the shift to digital will be a success among existing customers?
In UnionBank, we believe no one should get left behind. We started first with our internal culture transformation so that the employees themselves will advocate this to our customers. It was really tough at first and we experienced numerous challenges. Since I am leading the Branch Transformation initiative, we experienced resistance especially from traditional clients who are so used to going to the branch to update their passbooks, receive paper-based validated transactions and statements of account. Some clients were wary to use the app for the fear of being hacked while others simply did not know how to use it. With this in mind, we launched a program called “Promote & Convert” so that whenever a customer walks into the branch, our Branch Ambassadors will make sure to educate them on using digital channels. This ignited a dramatic increase in digital transactions and enrollment to our digital channels. Our customers have been transformed too! We are so happy with the results of this program and it has been a way of life for our branch ambassadors.
How do you manage the increasing customer expectations?
Customer expectations will always evolve, so we need to make sure that we are a big part of their evolution. Our main thrust is to embed banking into their lives without them feeling they are actually banking. The agility of our organization has prepared us to meet this increasing customer expectation. UnionBank also established Customer Experience Group which I am a part of for 5 years already to focus on this ever-changing customer needs to ensure that all customer touchpoints will have superior customer experiences.
What most excites you about the future of CX in Asia?
The proliferation of CX in Asia is very exciting because I know the result of this will bring the best experiences to customers who should always be the focal point of all CX initiatives. For CX Designers like myself, it is our dream to fulfill what the customer expects from us or even exceed their expectations more so if we make their lives better. Exciting times indeed!
What’s one thing you’re trying to learn more about right now related to CX?
Since superior CX can only be achieved with relevant data, I’m particularly interested in Data Science, Analytics, and Behavioral Science. I am also trying to learn DevSecOps which is our enhanced version of Agile in developing and launching products/services.
Why is NGCX Asia an event you're excited about, and what will you be sharing there?
I’m looking forward to successful CX practitioners in Asia coming together to share CX principles/frameworks and practical applications to guide and inspire the budding ones or those who are just venturing in providing superior CX. I will be sharing my CX journey in UnionBank, on being brave and bold to deliver the change required – how can we build back better around a revitalized customer experience?
Keeping customers at the heart of what they do, UnionBank is steering in the right direction as they propel the growth of their digital-banking capabilities while delivering a superior real-time customer experience. The main focus is to continue building a collective mindset of their employees, stakeholders, and customers in creating seamless and meaningful experiences.
So given all that progress, what’s next?
Register for NGCX Asia Virtual Summit, happening from 2-3 June. They’re setting their highest attendance ever, with over 250+ senior Asian CX/UX executives in attendance from Getfly CRM, Generali, SIA, DHL, Flipkart, Saint Gobain, Bank of Singapore, Roche, and more. Register now as an attendee(for FREE!) Discuss opportunities, overcome challenges, and fast-track your CX journey. Together.#2021#ExperienceDesignImprovementInnovation