Two majors unveil significant operational changes

by Madison Utley30 Jul 2020

Two of Australia’s four major banks have unveiled significant changes to their models of operation, intended to both improve customer experiences and positively contribute to Australia’s job market.

Westpac yesterday announced it will be transitioning around 1,000 jobs from overseas back to Australia, a decision partially driven by the stress the surge in demand for customer assistance at the start of COVID-19 put on home lending processing.

Westpac CEO Peter King acknowledged that “at times [the bank’s] response rates have been too slow”.

“Today’s announcement is a further step in transforming our business and mortgage operations, helping to support local employment, reducing the risk of offshore disruption, and accelerating our ability to simplify processes through digitisation,” he said.

“We will also be returning all dedicated voice roles to Australia to enhance the capacity of our existing call centres. This will mean when a customer calls us, it will be answered by someone in Australia.”

The bank expects implementation to take around a year as it works through existing obligations with its overseas partners and develops a new service model for the jobs brought back to Australia.  

The 1,000 new roles will support Westpac’s call centres, while providing processing and operational assistance to functions like home lending and consumer finance. They will be filled with new and existing employees, with the jobs distributed across regional and metro areas, according to the CEO. 

Off the back of the news out of Westpac, NAB announced it is also adopting a new model that will “see hundreds of jobs maintained and a more consistent banking experience for customers” as the group shifts slightly away from the traditional branch model.

As of 17 August 2020, NAB will be adjusting the opening hours across 114 of its regional branches to 9:30am to 12:30pm, with bankers supplementing their in-store service with digital banking support – a shift the group has attributed to more customers moving online.

“Our colleagues will learn new skills to support customers in new ways, including on the phone and online chat, which presents the opportunity for our bankers to work remotely at times when more of our customers want to do their banking,” explained Rachel Slade, NAB group executive of personal banking.

According to Slade, bankers will also be using some of the newly freed time to assist with application processing. More than 450 bankers have already been trained in new skills to support customers in different ways since the start of COVID.

“It is clear the face of banking is changing, especially in the way customers want to interact with us,” said Slade.

“We think this move will strike that balance, keeping the doors open at 114 branches around the country and providing the opportunity for around 300 bankers to learn skills while we continue to serve our customers well.”