The Rabobank vision of cooperative customer service in 2016

Back in 2010, who would have thought that in just four years, we would be using our smartphones for everything, from making dinner reservations to managing our finances? That many families and businesses would have taken to replacing their laptops with tablets, that e-commerce would sweep the retail world the way it has, that a growing number of people would routinely do extensive research online before making a major purchase or decision? And even if we did, could we have anticipated that all this would be amplified by a factor of 100 just a few years from now? In 2013 Rabobank has launched a programme in response to these changes: Vision 2016.

Changes for consumers, businesses and the bank

Along with technological advances, these changes in society and the economy inevitably also affect consumers, businesses and the bank. As online retailers continue to muscle in on brick-and-mortar stores, there is a growing demand for flexible, efficient and reliable payment processing services.

And if tablets really are the most user-friendly of electronic devices, banks need to ensure that customers can easily access their services through this medium. In a 24-hour economy, consumers expect to be able to apply for a mortgage or business loan online when and where it suits them.

The emergence of all these trends has raised a number of pressing questions for Rabobank and its organisation. If people are increasingly conducting transactions and having meetings online, what is the role and significance of physical offices? How can the bank maintain efficiency with so many channels operating alongside each other? Perhaps most pertinently, how does Rabobank, with its 115-year history as a cooperative bank, maintain this proximity to the community in an online world?

Moving faster towards a new reality

Rabobank integrated all these challenges into a single programme last year, known as ‘Vision 2016’.
The programme was created to enable Rabobank in the Netherlands to step up its preparations for the ‘reality of 2016’ and to reap the opportunities offered by the online world. For one, customers who used to drop into their local Rabobank four times a year or withdraw cash from an ATM once a week now use their smartphones or tablets to connect with Rabobank.

Cooperative customer service

Cooperative customer service is the core of ‘Vision 2016’, whose key elements are outlined below.

  • Digitising financial services (virtualisation).
    Our goal for 2016: retail and business customers will have access to their own personal online environment that enables them to manage their finances. This intuitive environment will feature an ingenious interface and design, that is  simple and straightforward, thereby  strengthening the relationship between Rabobank and its customers. On top of that  it will be secure and comfortable for users. In this online environment, customers will also experience the bank as involved and nearby.
  • Providing personalised advice to customers across a variety of channels.
    It is in our customers’ interest that we provide useful and valuable advice. Our goal for 2016: further strengthening and standardising the quality of our advisory services and developing such services for various customer groups in the retail and business markets, from managing their daily banking business to achieving their long-term financial goals. In our new, digitised organisation, customers can contact us for advice across a variety of channels (cross-channel) in a customer-friendly and efficient manner. At the same time, face-to-face interaction will remain as important as ever in 2016.
  • Taking part in networks in order to strengthen customers’ living and working environment (participation).
    People need to take personal initiative in strengthening their living and working environment, but local Rabobanks can actively support them in this process. If our customers thrive, so do we. Rabobank members and members council members are all vital in strengthening the local community. This is their home territory; they know the local business scene well and enjoy close relationships with their local Rabobank. The bank can provide support by sharing its knowledge, bringing people together and providing access to its facilities.

Call for greater efficiency

If we are to provide these services and at the same time remain a solid bank, we will need to improve our results. This requires us to make our procedures more efficient, enhance customer satisfaction, reduce costs and the number of employees. We will also need to make a number of investments, such as automation on the customer end and administrative processing on the bank’s end.

Local Rabobanks take centre stage

The local Rabobanks in the Netherlands, whose employees are service-minded, well trained and flexible, are instrumental in delivering on the promise of cooperative and efficient customer services. Local Rabobanks maintain relationships with retail customers and the majority of Rabobank’s business customers. These banks can rely on Rabobank for online services and other types of support. This central organisation serves to assist local Rabobanks, of which there were around 136 in 2013, a number that is set to be further reduced to roughly 100 in 2016. They will be leaner, more efficient organisations, staying true to their strong local roots.

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