Shukri Mustafa, COO/CIO of Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo, describes the bank’s mission to use continuous innovation to improve the customer experience...
The story of Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo (RBK) begins in 2002, when the Austria-based company Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI) established itself in the territory. Following the 100% acquisition of the American Bank of Kosovo’s shares, RBI rebranded it with its current name in 2003. Offering its individual and corporate customers a wide variety of products and solutions, including financial services, asset management and loans, RBK also prides itself on an innovative approach to banking, which ensures its clients receive the highest-quality experience possible. Leveraged through careful research of the latest technology and strategic investment in its IT and Operations departments, RBK’s thoroughly modern outlook was awarded the first Registered Quality Assurance ISO 20000 certification in Kosovo.
Heading up RBK’s digital transformation is Shukri Mustafa, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer. Coming from a financial, insurance and banking background, Mustafa’s previous experience as an entrepreneur, non-profit manager and relationship manager illustrated to him early on how important linking the customer experience with technology is. When he became a member of RBK’s board in 2007, the Bank implemented a three-point-plan to drive the changes it considered to be necessary: updating out-dated systems, creating an infrastructural shift and introducing new business applications. “The legacy of our systems made us consider ‘if we want to be at the cutting-edge and ready ourselves for the digital changes that the market will require, RBK will need to change’,” he says. “So, that’s where we started.”
Introducing a suite of new electronic services, including e-banking and mobile banking, RBK fully embraced the digital era by providing its customers with next-gen communications and intuitive services. “We introduced chatbots to assist customer service and gain a better understanding of what people think about our products,” Mustafa expounds. “We are upgrading our core banking system, which will help our front line staff know our customers better by having the analytical CRM (customer relationship management software) in front of them.” RBK has also introduced Viber banking - a cross-platform IM (instant messaging) application - which enables the company to give its clients convenient access to necessary services, such as account information, processing transactions, balance enquiries and statement history. Viber also gives RBK the opportunity to engage with its customer base in a revolutionary way via personalised promotional activities.
Displaying a keen awareness that the symbiosis of people and technology can yield highly successful results, RBK has become a champion of innovative fintech startups and emerging talent within the sector. A platinum sponsor of the University for Business and Technology, Mustafa explains that the company is dedicated to investing in the people who will help to shape the bank going forward. “RBK wants to open doors and encourage new students to work for us. We achieve that by introducing fresh ideas and ways of working that young people would like to see.” The bank is also organising ‘hackathons’ at the university, wherein students can experiment and explore the potential of data analytics. The bank’s spirited attitude also led to it recently employing QR coupons in stores, utilising augmented reality through a downloadable app, in order to make banking a more enjoyable, interactive and fun experience.
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, RBK, like every bank, must explore ways to retain its customers and attract new ones. “It's hard to try and market for Generation X and Y. RBK is measuring itself at all times to guarantee customer satisfaction and keeping the organisation alert and agile,” Mustafa says. This makes defining a clear corporate strategy and liaising closely with partner companies absolutely essential. Collaborators like InfoSoft Systems and Temenos , providers of specialised system integration solutions, have been essential in helping RBK shape its approach. “As a bank, we invite our partners to sit with us so that they can understand what we want, conduct market research for us and come up with different ideas,” he explains. “InfoSoft Systems and Temenos go further: it looks at things from the client's perspective and helps us stay one step ahead.”
When asked how he would characterise his methodology for implementing digital transformation, Mustafa says that it’s based on offering superior customer service and making the banking procedure as easy as possible. Whether it is through the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning software to make data easier to navigate or enhanced security features to put customers at ease, RBK is constantly exploring people-centric ways of modernising its products. “We have introduced fingerprinting, face recognition and biometrics,” he explains. That’s on the side our clients see, but, behind the scenes, we also invest a lot in security - especially on data encryption. Account fraud, transaction monitoring, data leakage prevention, incident handling, threat intelligence - these are things that clients aren’t directly aware of, yet they’re vital to making clients feel safe when they use our digital channels.”
Although investing in the newest technology can yield a more modern experience, what RBK is achieving is a rare feat: a service which feels personal, secure and cutting-edge. Its corporate culture, which prioritises delivering superlative customer experience, is what helps set the bank apart from its competitors. RBK is striving to unite its customers with the digital age’s greatest opportunities in a way which feels innovative and fresh. “Making sure the customer has an easy experience is very important to us,” Mustafa concludes. “The customer experience is RBK’s mission and its vision. We want to continue to be the number one Bank in Kosovo”.