Making changes today to help clients tomorrow

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Martine Hochstenbach

Back when I was at university, if you’d told me that some day I’d be working at a bank, I would have said you were crazy. After all, I was convinced that banks were just big, dust-filled organisations where nothing ever changes. Now that I actually do work for ABN AMRO, though, I realise how far off the mark I was. And I understand why people so enjoy working here, and often stay on for so many years. I mean, where else do you get the same opportunities and freedom to develop yourself?

One month, I might be focusing on virtual assistants – next week, maybe it’s another form of AI, or even 3D printing. Martine Hochstenbach Martine Hochstenbach New Digital Services Developer

I work for the Innovation & Data Office, a department focusing on technological innovation and data application. We’re part of Operations, which carries out all the bank’s client transactions – from the Dealing Room and Corporate Clients to Retail. Given the nature of our work, we have to manage volumes of critical data. With all the recent developments around big data, all this information represents a key to our clients’ success, as well as our own. The bank is constantly reinventing itself in order to remain relevant to its clients. Not to mention that new legislation has been introduced which offers more players access to the payments market starting this year. Technology is also enabling a growing number of small, flexible businesses to quickly develop into strong competitors in their own right. The bank has to move with all these changes. I’m truly convinced that innovation is no longer a luxury but a necessity if we want to remain competitive.

Testing digital assistants

You might say our department is like a laboratory where we explore promising technologies to see if they can help us take the bank’s services to the next level. We pay particular attention to the customer journey. At the moment, for example, I’m evaluating how we might use digital assistants to help clients more efficiently online. I’m looking at how certain companies are already using this form of artificial intelligence, asking whether people actually like using virtual assistants and how effective they really are. My work also relates to existing services and processes at the bank. Not long ago, I was involved in a project focusing on how the bank deals with the family members of recently deceased clients. Obviously, it’s a very delicate process, one which demands the highest possible level of service, clarity and respect. I’ve also been analysing how clients feel generally about the level of service we provide and what improvements we can make.

From project to project

I enjoy working to help introduce simple but real improvements, since it’s often these which make life a lot easier for our clients. At ABN AMRO, there’s a deliberate focus on making changes today to help clients tomorrow, rather than on innovations which could take another twenty years to reach maturity. I also like moving from project to project, sort of like an internal consultant. One month, I might be focusing on virtual assistants – next week, maybe it’s another form of AI, or even 3D printing. I love the variety. Some of my colleagues have been with ABN AMRO all their working lives, and now that I work here myself, I can see why. There are so many exciting roles, and the organisation is so diverse. I think that makes the bank a very interesting place to work.

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