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Entrusting KM to improve communications for banks and their customers

This article appears in the issue July/August 2016, [Volume 25, Issue 7]
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Financial services firms are relying on knowledge management to help customers with their self-service needs, to monitor and process loans more quickly and to analyze channel activity.

As its customers started using digital channels and its customer base began to skew toward younger, more digitally adept clients, FinecoBank, a Milan-based financial institution in Italy’s UniCredit Group, needed a better way to optimize its customer services operations so clients could take advantage of self-service across all digital channels, including mobile applications.

FinecoBank sought a technology solution that would collate siloed data collected by each channel to provide a single, unified view of customer information, according to Massimo Maggioni, the bank’s head of CRM. The company selected Expert System’s Cogito Answers technology in 2014, because it gave customers easy access to self-services in a speech-enabled application. The application combines semantic analysis with natural language processing, enabling users to send queries and receive answers via SMS messages.

When FinecoBank decided to introduce the SMS service to connect mobile customers with the bank, the goal was to be as automated as possible to increase communication efficiency, according to Maggioni, who sees text messaging as clearer than other forms of communication. The beta version went live in March 2015, with the full version rolled out later that spring.

An intelligent semantic filter “reads” the messages and uses a set of APIs to build the complete answer using templates. The 10 percent of messages that cannot be managed by the system are routed to operators who answer the questions manually, according to Maggioni.

“Today we manage more than 10,000 SMS per month with an increasing level of automation due to the infrastructure fine-tuning that is the key success factor for the project in our experience,” says Maggioni.

He adds that customer feedback has been positive because users have found the Cogito Answers system “easy to use and very effective.”

Better loan management

Anyone who has ever applied for a loan knows that the process can be slow despite all the technology that lenders have employed in the last several years to speed it up. Sometimes the issue is that the lender doesn’t have the information in place to identify where the bottlenecks are, so resolution is impossible.

Such was the case with Morris Bank of Georgia, according to Jessica Brown, its lead loan documentation specialist. The financial institution started looking for a solution in 2013 because its executives felt they needed more granular knowledge about where loans were in the pipeline in order to streamline the process, Brown says.

The bank chose nCino Document Manager, part of the nCino Bank Operating System, and went live with it in September 2014. Document Manager enables Morris Bank to collect and organize important documents and manage and track exceptions, allowing it to remain audit- and compliant-ready at all times. The information integrates with the loan documentation available from the nCino Bank Operating System, enabling personal bankers to keep track of everything they need in one centralized location. That hastens the movement of information from one end of the loan process to the other while also helping the bank assess loan portfolio risk, according to Brown.

“We were looking to grow. Our old process was very time-consuming. This was something that needed to be done,” Brown says. With the old system, no efficient way existed to track the time it took to process a loan. Now bank executives can track approvals better and see if a problem arises within the process or if the bank needs to hire more staff due to volume increases or other issues causing bottlenecks, Brown adds.

Additionally, nCino allows the bank to follow best practices for reporting, enabling it to organize and set up permissions for reports. The loan information integrates with additional customer information from deposit accounts and other customer relationships, enabling the bank to holistically evaluate the institution’s data and customer relationships and make informed decisions and cross-sell offers.

“We really enjoy working with nCino. It’s very customizable for our needs,” Brown says.

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