- Case study
Santander UK boosts customer satisfaction by 5% in just one year
How a new operating model and the use of advanced digital technologies led to a major competitive advantage for Europe's largest bank
Santander UK, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish Santander Group and the largest retail and commercial bank in Europe with 14.4 million active customers
London is the Silicon Valley of fintechs. For centuries, the UK capital has been a global financial center. Now, it's also an emerging fintech hub and the beating heart of the tech-forward financial world. As a legacy institution that entered the UK market through a series of acquisitions of high-street banks – each with its own systems and processes – the UK division of Santander had a high-cost basis and needed to remodel its end-to-end customer journey to deliver a world-class customer experience.
Customers want easier and faster access to banking services and financial products. But Santander UK's internal operational metrics – including high exception rates, significant human intervention required in customer interactions, and long turnaround times – indicated that the bank could be doing things better for its customers.
In addition, Santander UK struggled to manage sudden changes in customer demand. For example, each year, as students started university, the bank had an influx of student loan applications. But it had no way of determining how big that influx would be or how many staff members it would need to manage the surge. Here's what the bank did know: if it couldn't process student loans in time, other firms would be happy to do it.
Finally, the bank had shared service centers in the UK and Poland that managed many of its core business processes across seven business units. But these captive operations came at a high cost due to outdated systems and processes and a lack of automation. Executives needed greater visibility and insight into how these processes were performing and how they could be improved.
Santander UK knew it needed to transform. Quickly. And that meant partnering. Like many big banks, however, Santander Group was used to going it alone. Never in its 165-year history had it undertaken a strategic partnership for its operational activities.
So, Santander UK launched a robust and competitive partner selection process, investing an entire year to evaluate 10 professional services firms. The bank selected Genpact due to our deep expertise in banking operations and advanced digital technologies and the strong alignment between both companies' corporate values.
"Genpact's flexible and dynamic approach set it apart," says Jas Narang, chief transformation officer and head of operations, Santander UK. "Other companies seemed to have a pre-existing model or solution that they wanted to shoehorn our operations into, but Genpact listened to what we needed and adapted."
Transition to a center of excellence for customer onboarding and servicing
Genpact committed to establishing customer onboarding and servicing solutions across seven core business units: personal banking, mortgages, unsecured personal loans, cards, business banking, payments, and corporate banking.
First, we designed and implemented a new operating model, transitioning 600 full-time roles from Santander UK's shared service centers to Genpact's center of excellence for onboarding and servicing. To 'retain the brain', knowledge transfer was critical. So, we seconded and embedded 20 experienced Santander UK employees to work with Genpact for 12 months. Meanwhile, we upskilled shared service center staff, empowering them to move on to bigger and better things within the bank, such as the financial crime and compliance organization.
The transition had to avoid causing any disruption to the bank's business. This was especially tricky due to multiple headwinds the team had to navigate. First, Brexit prompted changes to the country's regulatory environment. Then, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions meant the team had to meet its goals while working remotely. Despite this one-two punch, "Genpact pulled off the transition seamlessly and noiselessly, and the execution was flawless," says Narang.
Streamline core processes through automation
Our next step was to reimagine core banking processes using advanced digital technologies. We started with the corporate account closure process.
When an agent in Santander UK's contact center received a request to close a company account, they would pass the request to a back-office service agent who had to log on to a wide range of systems. They might need to send an order to the payments department to empty the account or transfer its balance to another account. Using robotic process automation, Genpact fully automated this process – improving the customer experience while eliminating frustrating manual work, saving time, and reducing costs.
Santander UK chose UiPath as its automation partner because it's easy to create bots without significant coding expertise. And while most automation tools perform well with either attended bots (which run under human supervision) or unattended bots (which perform highly complex and repetitive tasks based upon a predefined rule), UiPath performs well with both. As a Gold Partner, Genpact could use UiPath to automate the bank's processes and more.
Accelerate customer onboarding using artificial intelligence
Santander UK's retail banking processes needed transforming too. For example, when a customer applies for a new account, loan, or credit card, Santander UK must first validate their identity. Customers might provide a range of documents, from birth certificates to utility bills, to prove who they are. Collecting and evaluating this information manually was a time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and error-prone task.
Genpact helped Santander UK use AI-powered optical character recognition to extract and evaluate the information in these documents, identify its key elements, and put the relevant data in a table. We implemented orchestration technology that then automatically kicked off a workflow, prompting employees to complete the process and approve (or deny) the application. This significantly reduced the risk that the bank would do business with government-sanctioned customers or customers engaged in illegal activities, such as money laundering, terrorist financing, or fraud. It also dramatically improved the employee experience by allowing employees to focus on higher-level skills that required them to make important judgments and decisions.
Accurately predict business volumes and staffing capacity using advanced analytics
Finally, we created a planning and forecasting environment that's as dynamic as Santander UK's business. We gathered and consolidated historical business data across all seven business units. Then, we developed statistical models to forecast business volumes and staffing needs using advanced analytics.
In just one year, our partnership with Santander UK delivered:
Genpact is now helping the bank advance on its journey from being reactive to proactive. For example, we're developing a management information dashboard that will provide Santander UK executives with near-real-time insights into what business is coming up when and who's on staff to handle it, further enhancing their decision-making and boosting the bank's competitive advantage.
In addition, a full, front-to-back transformation is now underway across all seven business units. In Santander's mortgage business, we have already reduced the loan application-to-offer cycle time by 42%. And we've created the capacity to increase processing by $269 million per week.
Genpact has committed to delivering a total productivity improvement of 53% over five years – 29% from Lean Six Sigma process improvements and 24% from automation and digitization. We will also reduce the total cost of ownership of Santander UK's systems by 60% from year three onward.
"The relationship with Genpact has helped Santander turn a corner from a cultural point of view," says Narang. "Since day one, there has been honesty and transparency in the relationship and a true partnership at every level. The care for Santander's customer is pervasive throughout the organization. We have already enjoyed some massive achievements together, and we look forward to moving from strength to strength."
By embracing advanced digital technologies throughout its organization, Santander UK executives can swiftly anticipate, react, and adapt to challenges. And Santander UK is delighting its customers, securing it a spot among the most successful banks of the future.
This story first appeared in Financial IT.