How Customer Engagement Tools Help Support Employment Challenges

Part 1: Guided Conversations Ease Staff Shortages for Financial Institutions

In this two-part series, we discuss how customer engagement tools, such as digital conversation guides, can help banks and credit unions address the current employment shortage, while also improving employee and customer satisfaction. First let’s take a closer look at what created this situation and how financial institutions are responding.

Everywhere you look it seems there are “help wanted” signs – in both small towns and large cities, and across all industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly four million people quit their jobs in June 2021 alone, bringing the number of job openings in the United States to 10.1 million that month. While the situation may seem bleak, Americans are starting to see positive changes. As the economy rebounds and pandemic-related unemployment relief tapers off, employers anticipate more people will return to the workforce. However, right now many companies are finding it difficult to hire, including banks and credit unions.

Four out of five financial institutions are worried about staffing.

The Financial Brand, September 2021

Despite these challenges, financial institutions are pivoting in creative ways to transform how business is conducted, while maintaining their focus on customers. Insights reported by McKinsey identified three ways banks have adapted during the employment crisis:

  1. Accelerated the shift from hierarchical to agile structures where employees have autonomy, leaders delegate responsibility to empowered teams and relationships are more flexible.
  2. Invest in a scalable learning structure to allow bankers to come on-board and add value from day one on the job with minimal to no training.
  3. Commitment by leadership to develop talent to be experts on all banking products. From personal to small business, to be the universal banker of tomorrow, today.

Projection: 20% growth per year through 2030 for universal bankers – employees who serve as both personal bankers and tellers.

McKinsey, August 2021

Finding Solutions that Support Both Customers and Employees

Reassignment, upskilling and reskilling are excellent solutions to the staffing shortfall problem. Financial institutions may also consider bringing back employees who were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. If any of these options are possible, it will help alleviate one major aspect of this multi-faceted problem: the cost. While estimates vary based on a number of factors, it can cost between $4,000-$7,500 to hire a single employee – and take up to 2 months to fill the position. Here’s another benefit. Looking to former or current employees to fill staffing gaps also provides continuity in relationships, so customers are able to see a friendly face and hear a familiar voice when engaging with your branch.

Another option is to use digital conversation tools to make the most of the time spent with customers by reduced staff resources, which also improves the experience for customers. Imagine walking into a branch location only to see a few employees and a long line of people waiting. Rather than risk creating an immediate, negative impression, offer customers access to interactive devices (kiosks or tablets) so they can complete an assessment while waiting to be helped. This automatically reduces the perception of time spent waiting and improves satisfaction because customers are kept busy in a positive way.

A financial wellness assessment, an educational questionnaire that helps identify the reason for the customer’s visit, initiates the conversation and provides a framework for the employee who will provide assistance, making the interaction more efficient. This streamlined process creates the ultimate win-win situation: The customer experiences a more relevant, satisfying engagement and the employee feels more confident the assistance provided was appropriate.

Add Digital Resources to Your Team

Rather than be discouraged by the challenge of staffing storages, look to augment your team with valuable and efficient digital resources. Guided conversation and financial wellness assessment tools enhance the customer relationship management experience while supporting and empowering employees.

In part two of this series, we’ll take a deeper dive into how digital tools can help banks and credit unions boost results in employee recruitment, onboarding, training and retention. Subscribe to get notification when the next article is published.

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Ignite Sales is the leader in digital customer engagement, using artificial intelligence for engaging analytics to facilitate growth, deepen product penetration and increase satisfaction levels of bankers and customers.

Part 2: Digital Technology Improves Employee Recruitment, Onboarding, Training and Retention

Read Part Two

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