The Complete Guide to Universal Associates (Part 1) – What’s A Universal Associate?

The Complete Guide to Universal Associates (Part 1) – What’s A Universal Associate?

More and more Financial Institutions are pivoting toward the Universal Associate model to evolve their branch experience and better connect with clients. In hundreds of branches across the country, this new approach to servicing clients has created a repeatable path to success by decreasing costs, increasing staff flexibility and supercharging client engagement.

Despite the fact that many Financial Institutions have already implemented Universal Associates as part of their branch transformation projects, we’ve learned that there are still plenty of you out there that either don’t quite grasp the concept of Universal Associates or aren’t sure what’s so great about this game-changing model.

If you’re interested in expanding your understanding of Universal Associates or want to know more about why your branch network should be transitioning to this method, read on for a real definition of Universal Associates and a synopsis of what kind of benefits you can expect in your branch.

What Exactly Is a Universal Associate ?

Whether you call them “Universal” Associates, Universal Tellers, or Universal Bankers, this role is best defined as an employee that is able to handle just about every type of transaction in the branch. Instead of specializing in one small area, a UA’s lack of specialization is precisely what makes them special. Since they’re not chained to a desk, office or teller station, a UA can roam through the branch freely to help clients with service transactions and provide a more advanced level of advice.

The Universal Associate role can vary from branch to branch, but their job responsibilities remain similar—in the course of a day, a typical UA will provide customer service, greet clients, process basic transactions, open and close new accounts and even process loan applications.

What’s Driving the Shift To Universal Associates?

With the steady decline in foot traffic, higher transaction costs and rising salaries, FIs have realized that the traditional branch model is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Many FIs are making the switch to Universal Associates as a pro-active response to several trends:

Consumer expectations have increased: Over the past decade, changes to customer service in the retail world have resulted in greater consumer expectations. Restaurants, movie theaters and other retail industries have already adopted universal-based models, which means your clients have already been enjoying an advanced level of service while going about their daily business. If you don’t evolve to what they are already use to experiencing, your clients will quickly see you as outdated and behind the times.

Branches are no longer essential: Gone are the days of going to the bank on Friday or during a lunch break—banking can now be done from anywhere at any time.

Banking is no longer traditional: Members don’t just need an advanced associate, they need one that can handle future needs (even if they don’t know what they need yet).

Why Should You Implement Universal Associates In Your Branch Network?

The Universal Associate approach to servicing clients may be a new concept to you, but there are hundreds (ore more) branches that have been deploying UAs for several years with great success. We asked several of our clients what their big wins have been after implementing the UA model, and here are just a few of the many benefits our clients have reported:

Do more with less: Skyrocket staff efficiency and scheduling by combining multiple job functions into one role.

Better experience and higher satisfaction: One-and-one service leapfrogs convenience, satisfaction and the WOW factor in your branches.

Increase your cross-sell ratio: Higher quality interactions lead to more opportunities and closed product. Independent studies have shown that Universal Associates can sell at least twice as many products compared to the traditional teller.

Shift the focus from transactions to interactions: Your staff can spend more time with your clients having meaningful conversations, resulting in a higher level of client satisfaction.

Want to learn the right way to bring Universal Associates into your branch network? Just fill out the short form below and a CFM advisor will be happy to bring you up to speed and make customized recommendations for your unique situation.


Editor’s Note: This is Part One of our Complete Guide to Universal Associates  – a multi-part series devoted entirely to helping financial institutions understand how to bring the Universal Associate strategy to life.