Banks reskilling frontline staff and creating new jobs to help employees stay ahead of tech disruption

DBS customer service officers Lee Pei Ying (left) and Esther Tan (right) with DBS’ Head of Customer Centre Geeta Sreeraman. DBS said more than 500 of its contact centre employees were reskilled to take on 13 new roles as part of the digital transformation. PHOTO: DBS

SINGAPORE - Banks are reskilling employees and drawing up new roles at contact centres to better serve customers as technology continues to overhaul jobs in the financial sector.

The upgrades are also necessary to ensure that workers do not become obsolete, especially with more customers preferring to bank online.

A study released last month said banks acknowledge that contact centres and frontline staff serve as a critical component in a bank's ability to manage and enhance customer relationships.

However, noting that bank chatbots and self-service platforms are already doing the work of humans, the study said that jobs at contact centres will need to evolve.

Crucial customer service skills that employees will need to pick up include technology troubleshooting, product awareness and data interpretation and analysis, according to a report of the study on what skills workers in the financial sector will need to cope with the changes brought about by technology. The study was commissioned by the Institute of Banking and Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Banks have responded to the new challenges by creating tech roles, reskilling workers and using more technologies in their contact centres, The Straits Times learnt.

An example is the four roles that DBS Bank has created over the past 18 months as it envisions and builds a contact centre of the future.

More than 500 contact centre employees were reskilled to take on 13 new roles as part of the digital transformation, a DBS spokesman said on Thursday (May 2).

New roles come with snazzy new names such as digital evangelist and scrum master.

Digital evangelists encourage customers to use DBS' digital channels through monthly roadshows at community centres or bank branches.

Scrum masters help their colleagues use a project management methodology called agile to solve problems.

At Citibank, employees started training last year to develop skills in customer journey, design thinking and cyber security.

The bank launched a professional conversion programme to help 400 workers stay useful in a more technologically advanced age.

It will introduce roles such as data intelligence and automation manager, multi-channel service adviser and digital engagement adviser.

United Overseas Bank trained a team of live chat agents in Thailand to serve customers of its mobile-only bank TMRW.

Its group human resources head Dean Tong said that the training will allow employees to be familiar with TMRW's features and technology.

They will also learn how to engage with people through digital channels.

Mr Tong said: "We can see that the contact centre of the future will include more such intersections between technology and human-assisted services."

The bank's professional conversion programme trained 440 branch employees last year, equipping them with skills such as design thinking, customer journey design and scenario analysis and planning.

Graduates have since taken on expanded roles in the bank, Mr Tong said.

OCBC Bank is reskilling bank tellers to become digital ambassadors at branches to help older customers use new ATMs and digital service kiosks.

Its group human resources head Jason Ho said: "Our staff at the contact centre have also stepped up from their traditional task of just handling simple and straightforward service requests to now taking on sales roles."

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