How Universal Bankers Break the Silo Culture

“Silos of expertise.” “Working in silos.” Given how often we use “silo,” most of us should be walking around with hayseeds perpetually stuck in our teeth. For banks and credit unions, however, silos are disappearing fast. Technology and changing customer demands drive financial institutions to address the isolation that lies at the heart of “silo” culture with new solutions. The “universal banker,” also known as a “universal teller,” has emerged in recent years as a critical linchpin to help financial institutions connect a customer’s mobile, online and in-branch banking experience.

What is a Universal Banker?

Financial institutions have combined traditional teller and customer service positions into the universal banker role. A job description from a Connecticut-based bank presents the universal banker as something of a human Swiss army knife: “With a firm understanding of the bank products/services and the customer’s current relationship, [the universal banker] offers information on bank products and services that can benefit the customer and enhance their banking relationship. [H/she} carefully evaluates needs of potential customers and offers appropriate financial products and services resulting in referrals.”

The job description reinforces the importance of the universal banker to break down silo culture: “…[the universal banker] is to serve those customers who prefer face to face interaction, and [must be able] to look at and understand a customer’s transaction requirements and effectively communicate all options.” Technology has enabled everyday transactions to be handled smoothly via online and mobile applications. A recent McKinsey study shows most customers interact with their bank via multiple channels; less than 20 percent use the branch alone.

Why do Banks Need Universal Bankers?

If a customer runs into a problem, has a question or financial need they can’t get answered digitally, they’ll head to a branch location. In this instance, it’s less of a customer preference for face to face interaction, but a necessity for some higher level of service. “It creates a real opportunity for a branch to be a problem-solver and foundation-builder for the consumer, but it also means the level of expectation and expertise needed to address all of a customer’s needs is quite high,” according to Gina Bleedorn, a customer experience design expert.

From credit cards and UTMA accounts to resolving thorny customer service issues, universal bankers act as a jack-of-all-trades who can cross-sell bank products like no one’s business. It’s an omnichannel approach that many financial institutions are adopting, especially at branch locations with steady volume and traffic flow.

The ROI of Universal Bankers

Universal bankers are paid about 35 percent more than a traditional teller, but the extra payroll is worth it. An Independent Banker comparison shows that universal banker models open up more personal and business checking accounts, record more teller transactions and open more personal home equity loans per employee than the traditional branch model.

But all this improved ROI doesn’t appear out of thin air. Here again, technology plays a supporting role. Universal bankers are often positioned to be the first person a customer sees when they walk into a branch, and spend most of their day with customers. To get the most out of every touchpoint and interaction, they need as much data at their fingertips as possible. Tools like a CRM empower universal bankers to spend less time wondering what to do and more time actually doing it. Pop-up technologies embedded in the CRM provide customer-specific offers and cross-sell opportunities quickly. 

Silos are for Hayseeds

Silos of expertise have no place in today’s dynamic banking environment. Universal bankers transcend specific operational functions and provide the additional expertise customers expect when they visit their bank in person.

Ready to empower your universal bankers with the tools they need to answer every customer question? Learn more about how 360 View’s Growth Platform and Smart Pops technology delivers value and provides a unique customer experience.