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05.03.2021
| Reading time: 4 min

At CCB Group, Customer Connectedness Survives and Thrives in the Digital Age

Success Stories: Experiences in the Digital Sphere told by Businesses Themselves

How do you digitise your services without losing the human touch, and without forgetting the importance of personal bankers? This is the major challenge looming with the digital transformation, one that is keenly felt by those who, like the Cassa Centrale Group, are building a legacy based on one-to-one communication, and a person-centred focus.

A little background is in order. The Cassa Centrale group is quite young. Founded in 2019 as Gruppo Bancario Cooperativo [Cooperative Banking Group], its members number 85 credit unions (including agricultural credit unions) and Raiffeisenkassen, boasting 1,500 teller windows across the country.

During the 2020 pandemic, although most bank branches managed to stay open, many shareholders and customers were forced to stay at home. How, then, to keep that personal connection alive using digital channels?

“Last year, we faced a situation that no one could have foreseen. The Group’s banks have always known direct contact with the customer to be the hallmark of the credit-union model. Services provided by the bank had to remain accessible by the customers in a way that complied with government orders. In some cases, this changed the way we interacted with our customers because we weren’t always able to do so in person. This prompted the question: how can we connect with those customers accustomed to going into their branch lobby?” notes Alessio Bonetti, Head of Digital for the Cassa Centrale Banca Group, during a webinar held 14 January last, and entitled “Online Digital Contracts: Reimagining HR and Sales”.

This in turn prompted Cassa Centrale Group to reach out to Intesa (IBM Group). The solution chosen, and later implemented, contemplated an online signature option featuring Qualified E-Signatures, and customer identification via video. “On that first day, it all seemed impossible. Then, the service began its capillary distribution. On one level, we saw it generate concrete, practical value, but on another level it was expanding our corporate culture and our horizon”, says Bonetti. This option had all the advantages of “going paperless” without sacrificing regulatory and audit compliance.

The Group’s experience serves as a testament that digitalisation can find a place within every pocket of the business world and beyond. This story is also one of a Group experiencing dynamic growth who recognised the importance of taking an open-innovation approach with its “early-adopter” stakeholders. This allowed it, within a timeframe suitable for a start-up, to launch a digital service that in the meantime had become something they could not do without. Flexibility and cooperation were the key factors.

Bonetti further notes that this digitalisation project within the Group had a kind of “trailblazing” effect with respect to other initiatives they’ve tackled, and helped raise greater awareness about digital solutions. “Mixing in a digital perspective into a Group whose culture was focused on customer rapport is an incremental process: showing, rather than telling, our stakeholders that digital solutions are not anathema to customer service. They can enhance it, improve it. This first project we developed with Intesa had the virtue of allowing us to understand that even though our Group is very much focussed on the local community, we have the ability to use digital services in a way that allows us to improve how we approach our customers.

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