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How One Community Bank Is Making the Shift to Digital: An Interview with Dan Mercurio

Dan Mercurio is the SVP of consumer banking at Cambridge Savings Bank (CSB), where he oversees retail banking and residential and consumer lending. He develops strategic initiatives and manages performance metrics in each of these areas.

In this interview we talk about how Cambridge Savings Bank has navigated the shift to digital banking.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Given the strength of my managers overseeing our day-to-day operations, I spend a significant portion of my time focused on strategic initiatives at the company level. So, for example, we just developed a three-year strategic plan, and we are now on the cusp of implementing the core initiatives. As we begin implementation, I’ll work closely with our management team, reviewing key performance indicators to measure the success of business line specific initiatives.

How much of your strategic plan is focused on digital banking?

We like to say that it's our goal to be more local than our national bank competitors and more digitally innovative than our community bank peers. That theme really transcends our entire strategic plan.

We’re driven to be more digitally innovative than the traditional community banks we're competing with here in eastern Massachusetts, and as a result we dedicate a significant portion our plan to digital. We’re creating the best digital experience for our customers wherever they want to do their banking, and so we are prepared to disproportionately invest in digital solutions that allow consumers to not have to visit a branch to interact with us. Because of this, mobile is the priority for us in the digital space.

How has the organizational structure of your bank shifted as digital has taken center stage?

In addition to having a specialized online team, we recently created what we call an e-delivery governance committee that is made up of members of the executive staff along with key business line managers. We meet monthly to look at the strategic horizon, talk about trends we're seeing, and review performance metrics related to our digital offerings. The group collaborates seamlessly with our legal and compliance, so we make sure we’re considering all points of view.

Interesting. Since CSB brought that committee together, are there any areas where you've innovated around process improvement to support the digital experience?

Yes, we recently launched an entirely new deposit account opening process for consumers with the ability to open deposit accounts online. While most of our competitors have some version of paper that supports opening an account online, we were able to work cross-functionally to develop an innovative process by which everything is done through e-signature and no paper is passed between the consumer and us when opening an account. This wouldn’t have been possible without strong collaboration between consumer banking managers, deposit operations and the legal and compliance team.

In addition, a community bank of our size relies on third party vendors, so a significant portion of the role of our role has turned into collaborating and influencing vendors. We are passionate about working across departments to engage our vendors most effectively to customize products for the most impactful customer experience.

What roles have shifted most dramatically in the past decade, and what roles remain the same if any?

The hard part is trying to identify roles that haven't changed. Legal, compliance, HR, tech, and operations — all of these groups have evolved significantly. The way HR sources candidates has moved to a digital platform. Legal and compliance now spends their time translating legacy guidance that was based on a paper-based world to a digital world.

I would say the roles that have changed the most are in our customer contact center. If I look back three years ago, the contact center was a reactive service center for our customers. Now the contact center takes the lead role in digital consumer engagement. So, as customers start their banking relationship with us online, the entire on-boarding experience happens digitally and is managed by human beings in the customer contact center.

Our objective is to align with the way in which the consumer wants to bank with us. As we see the number of phone calls decreasing year over year, we also see the number of electronic communications increasing. As customers are calling us less, they're e-mailing us more. The role of the contact center has changed to not only include phone support but support for our virtual customer as well.

A few years ago we had what you’d call digital ambassadors in the branch network, but we’ve now done away with them. Our perspective is that even though clients visit the branch for their in-person needs, every team member should be a digital ambassador for the company. This philosophy has governed the strategic initiative that we plan to bring online over the next three years. It's not about identifying certain individuals within the retail banking group to be the digital experts; it's about how can we make sure everyone is interfacing with our customers and has strong discipline and knowledge related to our digital solutions.

What has most helped your team members in making the transition to digital?

We incentivize our team members to use the products and services we offer to our customers. Some community banks have typically had a separation between the employee's personal banking and the place of employment. We completely disagree with that. We encourage all of our team members to bank with us and use the products and services. The other thing that has really made an impact is that we have been able to attract millennials as employees to the organization. By employing these digital natives, people who’ve grown up their whole lives with the Internet, we’ve been able to influence the culture to transition to digital.

What new roles do you think will be added as banking increasingly becomes digital?

Roles that center on data leadership and data management. What we've experienced, and we're not alone, is that community banks have data sitting in various systems, in multiple locations. To support the digital experience, banks should have a robust data management program operating behind the scenes.

So right in the tandem with the work we're doing in the digital space, we have similar governance in the organization around data management. We ask ourselves questions such as, What is it we absolutely need to know about our current customers? How do they behave, what do they look like, how do they act? How do we get that info from our third party vendors and marry that with our core operating system data to create a holistic view of that customer? How do we analyze that? We also ask ourselves if we have the right analysts in the organization to effectively meet all of our needs.

We have a strong analytics discipline that is supporting the business lines at Cambridge Savings Bank. But we know we need to enhance our data management discipline. So that is certainly an area I see community banks investing in more and more.

Learn more about the importance of using digital to improve experiences and empower account holders in our user experience white paper.