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Silicon Valley Bank: Leading the Way in Payments Modernization and Customer Experience

Given that payments modernization can be incredibly daunting for banks and financial institutions of all sizes, it’s critical to acknowledge and learn from powerful use cases and success stories.

Volante’s SVP, Global Head of Payments as a Service Deepak Gupta, alongside Paul Kizirian of Aite-Novarica Group, sat down with Savit Pirl, Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) at Volante Evolve, to discuss how integrating modern payments solutions enabled the bank to transform its onboarding process, improve customer experiences, and support major growth during the pandemic.

In this blog, we’ll share some key insights from the discussion, including an overview of SVB’s recent accomplishments, the importance of team building and communication, and how to maximize the value of new payments solutions when working a payments provider.

SVB’s Remarkable Modernization Journey

SVB was once a fairly modest-sized institution, managing around $40 billion with a primary customer base of early-phase tech startups. But after the pandemic hit, prompting a historical inflow of investments into the financial and medical technology sectors, demand for the bank’s services skyrocketed, launching SVB from relative obscurity into one of the largest financial institutions in the country.

However, SVB’s exponential growth also became one of its greatest challenges. Not only did the bank need to bulk up digital payments capabilities as a result of widespread lockdowns, they also needed to ensure that all new customers could begin transacting as soon as possible.

Knowing that it would be nearly impossible to transform their entire infrastructure in such a short timeframe, SVB worked with in-house developers and Volante to implement payments solutions that addressed the bank’s most urgent needs. More specifically, they decided to focus on increasing customer satisfaction through seamless onboarding, as well as making significant strides to increase straight-through processing (STP).

What SVB was able to accomplish with the help of Volante’s solutions is nothing short of astonishing. According to Savit, prior to the bank’s transformation, it took an average of 212 days from when a client opened an account until their first transaction, whereas it currently takes just over three weeks. Moreover, SVB has been able to increase their STP rates for payments from 6% to 80%, and triple the user base of their payments application.

Looking to the future, Savit is focused on the longer-term transformation of legacy systems, as well as improving onboarding and customer satisfaction even further in the near term. “Wherever we can, we’re trying to automate these payment journeys to improve the customer’s time to onboarding and, realistically, the whole banking experience.”

Opening the Lines of Communication

Of course, SVB’s success hasn’t come without some considerable challenges. In addition to securing stakeholder buy-in on new solutions, Savit pointed to the difficulty of building a team, and further to the importance of ensuring communication and inclusion both within individual teams and across departments.

“One of the things we did was ensure we had a partnership with all the different groups in the bank,” he said. As an example, Savit recalled bringing various department heads together, from Core Product and IT to Sales and Implementation, to put together an RFP for a new vendor solution. Beyond obtaining valuable strategic input from all parties, he stressed the effectiveness of the exercise toward building a culture of strong communication and mutual investment within the bank.

“When we have everybody there, while everyone may not win in the discussion, everyone feels that they have a voice,” he said. “You build the camaraderie inside the team and everyone feels invested in the success of the project.”

Similarly, Savit shared how he has come to treat his operations and implementations teams not only as collaborators but as customers whose satisfaction is just as important as the bank’s clients. “Those are my customers, too,” he said. “[And] if you’re respecting them and working for them throughout all this, they are much more willing to pull out all the stops to help you in the long run when you need it.”

Preparation is Everything

Finally, Savit was asked to reflect on his experience and lessons learned. As well as reiterating the importance of internal cooperation, he described his biggest lesson as one involving preparation, or lack thereof.

Looking back on an initial partnership at the start of SVB’s transformation, Savit recalled a strain that he attributed in part to his teams’ lack of strategic planning. “We didn’t do a good job thinking through all the non-functional stuff,” he said. “What are the scalability needs? What are your SLAs for servicing? You don’t want to wait to have these conversations.”

On the same topic, Savit and Paul further discussed why it’s crucial to focus primarily on your customer’s experience, which includes asking the right questions to understand their needs, and ultimately to build the best solution possible for their individual goals and requirements.

“Teach your teams to ask why,” said Savit. “Figure out why your customer needs X, Y, or Z, and what they’re doing with that item after the transaction is done. Because if you can understand their reasoning for why they’re looking for that solution in the first place, you’re going to build a better journey holistically across the board.”

Missed Volante Evolve? Stay tuned for more information on Volante Evolve 2023 to mark your calendar and save your seat.

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