Preparation, Leadership & A Little Luck Help Bankmobile Thrive

January 20, 2021


Bankmobile is a nationwide, completely digital bank, offering accessible and affordable consumer and commercial financial solutions that empower people to take control of their financial future. Bankmobile’s COO, Bob Diegel participated in a recent Fortimize Focus panel discussion, where he shared how Bankmobile’s unique culture and approach to banking helped the company thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a tough challenge to banks in 2020, forcing companies to change course and innovate quickly or risk losing customers. Leaders at banks across the country abandoned or adapted digital transformation plans and pivoted to expanding their virtual services to support customers without face-to-face interactions.  

As an all-digital bank, Bankmobile faced a unique set of challenges. Their mobile-first business model meant that they already had a strong virtual banking and customer support platform, but the pandemic tested their adaptability, partner management, and commitment to exceptional customer care.

Read on to learn how sound core principles, strong leadership, and yes, a bit of good timing, helped Bankmobile manage their essential partnerships, strengthen customer relationships, and support their employees during the pandemic.

Partner Management & Collaboration Was Key 

Diegel said that transitioning Bankmobile’s operations to remote work was relatively smooth and easy — with one exception. Bankmobile outsources call center operations to a third party. When call centers were forced to close to protect workers, the Bankmobile team had to figure out how to adapt.

One of the key challenges was finding a solution that let call center employees safely take customer calls from home while maintaining the level of security required to protect customer data and accounts. Diegel shared that they receive over 3 million calls a year, so getting secure remote call centers up and running was a high priority. 

The Bankmobile team worked with their partners to quickly find and implement the technologies needed to make this happen. As a result, Bankmobile was able to support its existing customers, as well as onboard large numbers of new customers who transitioned to digital banking during the pandemic. 

Exceptional Customer Support Strengthened Relationships

As the pandemic spread across the country, many of Bankmobile’s commercial clients needed help navigating the switch to remote operations. Bankmobile offers cash management solutions to over 700 higher education institutions. As these schools closed their campuses, Diegel and his team seized the opportunity to strengthen customer relationships by providing exceptional customer support.  

Schools on the West Coast were the first to close. Diegel’s team worked one on one with each of their clients to provide customized solutions that ensured students were able to get the scholarship, grant, and loan money they still needed.

Bankmobile then quickly assembled an online content library of best practices for schools transitioning to remote operations and shared it with higher education clients across the country. Diegel also said his team enhanced their cash management product to make the whole process smoother. Their efforts were rewarded with “lots of kudos and feedback” from happy customers.

Strong Core Practices & Good Timing Paid Off

Diegel highlighted Bankmobile’s robust change management process as an important part of successfully weathering the pandemic. In what he described as lucky timing, the company spent 2019 developing and implementing a strong but streamlined change management process.

By the time COVID hit, Diegel’s team was already accustomed to a quarterly cycle of meetings and action plans to improve products and processes. Once the challenge of adjusting to meeting remotely had been met, the team was off and running. They used their existing process to focus on changes needed in response to the pandemic.

While Diegel credited some of Bankmobile’s change management success to lucky timing, the strong core practices his team developed and implemented put them in a good position to adapt and succeed.

Leaders Provided Support, Guidance & Tools

Bankmobile’s leaders stepped up in a big way to guide the company through 2020. Diegel credited the leadership team with making sure employees had everything they needed to succeed from both a technology and an emotional standpoint.

After COVID hit, the leadership team tested several collaboration technologies before settling on Microsoft Teams. Once the decision was made, Diegel said company leaders communicated clearly about the chosen technology and produced quick how-to guides so employees could get up to speed quickly. They used a tool called Everbridge to keep everyone up to date on the company’s COVID response.  

Diegel also praised the leadership team for supporting employees.  Managers were required to meet with teams multiple times every week, and senior leaders were always available to help with problems. Bankmobile developed a scorecarding tool to provide helpful analytics to remote managers.

Where Diegel and other senior Bankmobile leaders went the extra mile was in working with a corporate psychologist and an executive coach to understand the emotional stresses their employees were facing. Their deliberate efforts to calm employee fears and connect emotionally with remote teams were critical to Bankmobile’s success.

Build A Strong Foundation

Successful digital transformation starts with a solid foundation. Fortimize has years of experience across more than a thousand engagements implementing the foundational platforms and new technologies that power growth and success. 

To learn more about how Fortimize can help your bank build a strong digital foundation for the future, contact us today.

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