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Have you ever tried purchasing your general insurance through an iPad? If your answer is no, perhaps Janariah Suhade can help you navigate the world of digital financial services.
As a self-professed people person, Janariah is invigorated by daily opportunities to meet and interact with her customers at the DBS Bukit Timah Branch. She is most happy solving problems and sharing knowledge, and as an Assistant Service Manager, one of her core responsibilities is to convert customers to online banking and self-service platforms.
“A lot of the work that I have been doing is to understand how digital banking is more relevant today and how I can help my customers adopt digital banking,” she explains. “We do have long-standing customers that are from the older generation, so one of my roles is to help them transition into new digital banking services.”
In addition to helping customers use the Branch Teller Machines, she also guides customers who are looking to purchase General Insurance (GI) products to complete their transactions via the new online platforms.
This includes introducing and explaining the product, digitally logging the customer’s information, and helping the customer to submit their application via the bank’s internet banking app.
All this is done on an iPad, with no paper brochures, handwritten forms, or hardcopy contracts.
“It’s more efficient and user-friendly, and more accurate compared to manually typing in their information,” Janariah explains. “The customer just needs to provide us with their email address and they will receive their policies immediately by email, much faster compared to last time when they would receive their policies in the mail.”
It isn’t always easy, and some customers are more resistant to change than others. But Janariah is always ready to tackle such challenges with a sunny disposition.
"The process of getting customers to adopt a digital approach has actually had a positive impact on our relationship with them."
“When we teach our customers, we have to be patient with them, and in return, they are also patient with us. It’s a good experience, actually,” she shares, cheerfully.
With the financial services rapid digitalisation, which has only gained momentum since COVID-19, frontline service workers like Janariah are stepping up to the challenge of keeping their skills updated to stay relevant.
The only way forward? Transitioning from a single-skilled mindset to a multi-skilled one.
Janariah was originally a Senior Teller with ANZ Bank. When the bank was acquired by DBS in 2017, she was transferred to DBS Bank, where her manager nominated her for the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) to be upskilled in customer service and familiarised with DBS product offerings.
The PCP is a structured training programme managed by the Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) as part of Workforce Singapore's (WSG) Adapt and Grow Initiative. The programme aims to help mid-career Professional, Manager, Executive, or Technician (PMETs) in the financial services industry to upskill and gain greater confidence in their work.
In her previous role, Janariah's main responsibility was to handle cash transactions. But in her current role at DBS, the nature of her job has become much more complex and persified. She now has to be well-versed in all manner of banking processes and products – including the opening of corporate accounts, which Janariah admits was the most challenging for her.
“We have to do KYC checks to be sent to the corporate team for approval before we can proceed to open the corporate account,” she shares. “We check the company’s background, interview the directors, the secretary, and if [the corporate team] needs further information we have to liaise with the customers too.”
“From what I was previously doing as a frontline teller, which is handling cash, this was really alien for me.”
But Janariah was determined to do a great job. When asked if she was scared about how her role would change following the job transition, she says clearly and firmly, “I told myself I needed to stay positive and be receptive about it. I must be open-minded.”
As part of the PCP, Janariah underwent training in customer service and problem solving. The soft skills she picked up have proven invaluable in handling the more complex cases that walk through her door.
“First things first, you have to listen to the customer before you can help them solve their issue,” she shares.
And when dealing with difficult customers? “We need to be empathetic, put ourselves in their shoes and understand what actually is the matter,” she says. “Whatever it is, don’t let a challenging situation affect your mood or your work. Once you settle a difficult case, it’s done, it’s over. You have to move on and continue with the next customer with a positive attitude.”
In hindsight, Janariah feels fortunate for the opportunity to learn new skills. Yet balancing work and studies wasn’t easy –Janariah typically had to complete her e-learning modules after working hours and on the weekends.
“My biggest personal challenge was time,” she shares. “Luckily, DBS has an app (called Digital Learning Hub) so I can do my e-learning on my mobile phone.”
Now, equipped with more comprehensive knowledge of the bank’s products and services, she has become a better problem-solver and is more self-assured when dealing with customers.
“If I hadn’t undergone this PCP, I feel like I would be more nervous and panicked about what to do when a customer comes to me with their problems.”
“But now, with a broader knowledge of the bank’s products, SOPs, and procedures, I feel more confident in helping them with their issues,” she shares.
It’s something she hopes to impart to her younger colleagues as a “big sister” at her branch. “My advice is: it’s actually good to learn new things to broaden your knowledge,” she shares. “The more you know, the easier it is for you to do your work. At least when a customer comes to you with a question, you can answer them with confidence."
This article is part of a series of stories on PMETs who have gone through an upskilling or reskilling transformation journey within the financial services industry.
(Information in this article are accurate as at time of publication, July 2020)
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