How Financial Services Firms Can Automate Business Processes with Power Apps
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The Microsoft Platform is a business application platform that leverages low-code in order to enable organizations to design and build end-to-end business solutions without the need for traditional programming. Power Platform consists of four components:
- Power BI: a powerful cloud-based business analytics engine
- Power Apps: low-code software application development for citizen developers
- Power Automate: the business logic and automation engine behind Power Apps
- Power Virtual Agents: a no-code graphical UI for building custom chatbots
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the Power Platform and its individual components, we recommend reading our blog post on the subject.
The Power Platform is uniquely positioned to consolidate disparate data sources in a simple, easy-to-use interface; this makes it ideal for financial services firms, which grow through acquisition and often find themselves juggling multiple legacy systems and data sources. Read on to learn more about FinServ-specific Power Platform use cases, as well as to find out how Hitachi Solutions helped one credit union achieve operational excellence through the Power Platform.
9 Ways Banks Can Use the Power Platform
- Global Contact Management: Banks and credit unions have traditionally held a very account-centric view of the world — that is, they tend to see customers and members as accounts rather than individuals, and act accordingly. This mindset is outdated and ill-suited to the realities of digital banking, which prizes a customer-centric approach.Power Apps helps financial institutions shift to this customer-centric model by enabling them to build apps that can connect to over 300 different data sources, including Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, to gain a 360-degree view of the customer. Armed with this data — including household information, service history, products owned, major milestones, and customer preferences — banks and credit unions can focus on the individual and deliver personalized marketing, customer service, and more to enhance the customer or member experience.
- Manual Process Automation: Despite the proliferation of modern technology, a surprising number of banks and credit unions still require their customers and members to fill out paperwork by hand and rely on manual processes, such as Excel sheets, for data entry and management.In order to save time and effort, banks and CUs can use Power Apps to create digital forms that customers and members can fill out via iPad or another mobile device. Once a customer or member has filled out a form, Power Automate can automatically upload this data to a centralized database, where it can be securely stored, accessed, and updated as needed. This enables financial institutions to eliminate clunky legacy systems — for example, one of Hitachi Solutions’ clients recently replaced its paper-based financial preferences system and customer profile form with a PowerApp. Using this app, the client is able to repeatedly go back to their live data and update it any time a customer indicates a change in preference.
- Streamlined Onboarding: There are a couple different ways banks and CUs can use the Power Platform to streamline onboarding; the first is for new customer or member onboarding. As previously mentioned, financial institutions can use Power Apps to create digital forms that customers can fill out electronically with basic information such as their name, date of birth, address, contact information, general preferences, and so on. Power Automate can then upload that information to a centralized database and automatically start to build out a customer profile based on the details provided.Second, banks and CUs can use Power Automate to simultaneously update information across multiple systems. A bank can make it so that any time Power Automate uploads new customer information to its core customer relationship management system, that data is also pushed to other solutions within its software ecosystem and customer data records are automatically updated.
- Business Process Automation & Management: There are many manual processes that take place at a bank or CU. For example, a bank teller might talk to a customer who’s interested in a mortgage and then have to manually route that information to a loan originator. From there, the loan originator would have to use one system to originate the loan application, and then another to track that application as it is processed. Financial institutions can use Power Automate to automatically track this process and a Power App to build an interface to view progress updates, thereby enabling them to manage everything from a single system and save time and clicks.
- Remote Work Empowerment: Mobile banking has been an essential service for banks and CUs for some time now but, thanks to Power Platform, financial institutions can now extend that mobility to their employees, as well. Banks can use Power Apps to create mobile apps and experiences that enable financial advisors and other employees to securely service their clients even when they aren’t in the main office. As mentioned, Power Automate has also enabled banks and CUs to replace manual processes, such as approval (more on that in just a moment), with automated processes, which enables employees to collaborate in real time without the need for face-to-face interaction. This functionality has proven especially useful as financial institutions embrace remote work in light of COVID-19.
- Multi-stage Approval Automation: Banks and CUs can use Power Automate to automate complex, multi-stage approvals for larger deals.Hitachi Solutions worked with one client that had an Excel-based approval process, which created a significant amount of work not only for the individuals requesting approval, but also for the approvers, who had to open multiple spreadsheets in order to get all of the information they needed. This client’s approval process also wasn’t consistently enforced or validated, which meant that very few people checked to see whether a request had been approved, when it had been approved, and whether any changes were made, so key details frequently slipped through the cracks. In an industry as competitive and tightly regulated as financial services, this lack of diligence and slow, inefficient process was holding the client’s business back.Hitachi Solutions responded to this business challenge by creating a flow in Power Automate that enables the client to automatically trigger an approval request any time a deal reaches the approval stage. The flow then automatically sends a request to one or more approvers, who can review and either approve or reject a deal from the web, email, or their mobile device. If a request is not processed within 48 hours, it is escalated through the appropriate channels, and if any details materially change, the approval flow automatically restarts. Finally, once a request has either been approved or rejected, Power Automate updates the deal with its approval status.By leveraging Power Platform, Hitachi Solutions was able to reduce the client’s approval process from one to three weeks to one to three days, saving valuable time. Additionally, the client’s approval history is automatically preserved, thereby ensuring traceability.
- Member Engagement Modernization: There are a number of different ways banks and CUs can use Power Platform to modernize the customer and member engagement experience, starting with Power Virtual Agents. Power Virtual Agents makes it easy for financial institutions to create artificially intelligent chatbots that can integrate with any number of services, from their online banking platform to their mobile banking solution. Power Virtual Agents is based on the Microsoft Bot Framework but uses a visual designer so citizen developers can easily build chatbots, too; these chatbots can also authenticate users and route customer support issues to a live agent using Omnichannel for Customer Service.
- Customer Portals: Using Power Apps, banks and CUs can build easy-to-use portals that enable customers and members to submit requests, securely look up account information, and so on. Although Power Apps portals are unlikely to replace online banking platforms, they’re ideal for lower-level use cases, such as asking questions or submitting customer support tickets.
- Internal Collaboration: Every bank or CU consists of multiple different departments, such as loan servicing, retail banking, risk management, IT, and so on. These departments are typically very siloed but Power Platform and Common Data Service can break down these walls by providing a common underlying data platform while still giving each group the unique experience it needs.
The Power Platform in Action
To see the Power Platform’s financial services capabilities in action, look no further than the work Hitachi Solutions did with one D.C.-based credit union. This credit union stored data in multiple core systems, which made it very hard to get a complete customer view. It also had no process for routing issues and opportunities to different departments. These challenges had a negative effect on the customer experience and made it difficult for tellers and other employees to do their jobs.
To resolve these issues, Hitachi Solutions used Power Apps to deploy a canvas app that provides tellers across different branches with a simple user interface for interacting with customers. This app enables tellers to quickly locate the customer’s account, validate the owner or joint ownership, and access common teller interaction tasks. The canvas app also replaced a manual paper-based survey that the credit union would use to gather details about a prospective customer’s financial needs and objectives.
As a result of using the Power Platform, the credit union now enjoys the following benefits:
- Superior customer service via streamlined branch interactions
- More empowered employees
- Comprehensive capture of member data to enable predictive analytics
- More efficient routing of cases and opportunities and fewer missed requests
- Faster response time to prospective customers via integrated “Contact Us” forms
- More efficient routing of incoming calls and emails to department queues
Want to learn more about how banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations are using Microsoft Power Platform to transform operations through the power of low-code? Contact Hitachi Solutions today to get more information.