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RBS and NatWest hire 'TechXperts' and prioritise digital skills

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest are employing specialist ‘TechXperts’ in all of their UK branches to help customers with online and mobile banking.

The banking giants will have a TechXpert in each of their branches, over 1,000 and 200 respectively, by the end of April 2017. These TechXperts will support customers in setting up and making the most of online banking. They’ll also provide demonstrations and “raise awareness of other convenient ways to bank” (RBS).

Although online and mobile banking are nothing new, managing one’s money digitally is becoming more commonplace. In just 10 years, the percentage of bank account holders using online banking has doubled from 30% to 60% (ONS). This rises to 87% amongst adults aged 25-34, indicating a generational shift.

The banks aren’t stopping there. Over 10,000 RBS and NatWest branch staff will receive training so that their workforces are digitally savvy. This ensures customers are speaking to technically-qualified staff in-branch that can help them with any query they might have. It’s unclear, however, whether the RBS and NatWest training schemes will include contact centre workers that largely interact with customers over the phone.

This is a significant step for the banking firms, and indicates how businesses are adapting to digitally-driven changes. However, banks and indeed wider businesses need to look further than their branches, stores and offices: Caci research showed that logins to a mobile banking app (895m) occur twice as often as branch visits (427m).

RBS and NatWest aren’t the first banks to invest in digital skills to improve their customer service; Barclays launched its Digital Eagles programme in 2014, which is still successfully operating now. These B2C initiatives are all aimed at helping the technically unskilled as more services are hosted online, including the government’s Universal Credit application; research has shown the people using these services are likely to be the most digitally disadvantaged. Barclays’ Managing Director of Digital Channels, Darren Foulds, said of the Barclays initiative “It may not be Barclays products that they help people with – they have gone out to help people understand what the benefits of being digital are.” He argues that businesses must work to help both consumers and staff improve their digital skills.

Businesses with a digitally savvy workforce have a significant advantage over competitors. However, a damning report by the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport indicates the UK has a significant digital skills gap. The digital skills gap is linked to one in five vacancies, while 72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are experiencing a digital skills gap. While it’s encouraging to see another two well-known brands invest in digital skills, and in doing so offering a better customer service, the report suggests digital skills aren’t high on many business agendas.

At TSG, having a highly-qualified team of technical experts is essential due to the nature of our business. Our software and technical specialists regularly undergo additional training from reputable partners including Microsoft and Sophos to assure you that they know their stuff; between October 2016 and January 2017 alone, our experts gained 78 qualifications. These qualifications are also essential to our business accreditation; we’ve gained our 7 Microsoft Gold Competencies because of our highly qualified workforce. But not all learning has to be formal, and you don’t need to be operating in the technology sector to prioritise digital upskilling.

By embedding digital skills into your induction programmes, or providing focused training around them, you can give your business and your staff an advantage. Digital transformation is happening, but it won’t happen with a workforce of technophobes. We’re big advocates of Office 365 and the innovative tools it comes with, but not everyone knows how to make the most of it. We use 365 Cloud Academy, an online hub dedicated to Office 365 training. It covers everything from the basics to the complicated, and allows our staff to upskill at their own pace, and focus only on what they need to. Cloud Academy estimates that 4 hours per week, per person, can be saved thanks to employees understanding how to use every day programmes and how they can implement more innovative technologies to improve their productivity.

Are you focusing on digital skills in your business? Or have you felt the effects of the digital skills gap?

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