Leveraging Leadership Empathy, Communication, and Flexibility at Bank of America

In my conversation with Holly O’Neill, Chief Client Care Executive & Head of Consumer Client Services at Bank of America, we spoke about the importance that empathy, communication, and flexibility played in the customer and employee experience during the pandemic.

Holly, who has been at Bank of America for over 20 years, and has experience in different roles within the organization, shares that navigating operational roles within the banking business is a fairly simple process––the challenge comes when doing the work at scale. She says, “the ability to interact with all of those clients, everyday, 10 billion times a year, is extremely complex.”

Listen to the conversation, as Holly and I chat about some of the customer experience processes involved with how BofA uses storytelling throughout the customer journey, how the leadership team embraces feedback, and some important shifts that needed to be made over the past year. I encourage you to listen to this episode, as I’m sure there are plenty of insights that will resonate with leaders of global operations.

Integrate a Top-down and Bottom-up Approach

Holly shares that focusing on customer experience was a top-down decision, stating, “Our CEO, Brian Moynihan, reads customer emails every single day.” She states that pre-pandemic, she started doing deep dives into “customer math,” looking at who is new coming into the business, who leaves the business, and why. This is what I refer to as, “viewing customers as assets.”

“It’s about understanding what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well, and that’s probably the most important piece of this. And I would say our team at the C suite has gotten really comfortable talking about where we’re not doing it well,” says Holly.

In addition, Holly explains that it was critical that their consumer teams with over 70,000 people, knew how to work directly with clients. When she engaged these teams regarding improving customer experience years ago, there was a culture shift. Holly and her team implemented a service called voices, which gave the teammates real-time touch points on their performance. They were able to immediately see how they did, what they did, what needed improvements, and then use the feedback as a benchmark. Doing the groundwork with the folks at the front line with the customers is also at the heart of Holly’s process.

It's about understanding what we're doing well, what we're not doing well, and that's probably the most important piece of this. — @hollyaoneill @BankofAmerica #CX Click To Tweet

Be Flexible and Over-Communicate with Customers

As we all made our way through the initial stages of the pandemic, Holly says that Bank of America focused on employee safety, which accelerated the shift into virtual work. Additionally, there was a focus on delivering for customers. Similar to other leaders who discussed customer experience during the pandemic, Holly stresses the importance of over communicating during this time — that it was important to let customers know that BoA had their best interest in mind, and they were willing to be flexible.

According to Holly, it was important for BofA to offer assistance and flexibility in terms of new arrangements for handling mortgage payments, to deliver on PPP loans, and to be available for customer contact.

During the past year, Holly also shares that they’ve collected plenty of feedback from customers regarding their performance which has been helpful for them along the virtual transition. Even though collecting customer feedback is a well-established process at BofA, Holly points that the live feedback during these challenging times has incredibly impactful for C-Suite leaders and the customer teams.

Live customer feedback during these challenging times has incredibly impactful for C-Suite leaders and the customer teams at Bank of America — @hollyaoneill @BankofAmerica #CX Click To Tweet

What do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Holly says:

“Things change. You have to be prepared for change. So, don’t ever think that you’ve conquered it, because it will change. And I mean, certainly we’ve learned that over the past year, right? It’s something that I’ve become accustomed to, working at Bank of America for the last, 25 years. You have to be prepared for change. Always think two steps ahead, what could change and be prepared for that? That is, and has been a really important lesson.”

About Holly O’Neill

Holly O'Neill Holly is the Chief Client Care Executive and Head of Consumer Client Services for Consumer & Small Business. Her team provides financial solutions to more than 65 million clients each year, with a focus on delivering exceptional and distinctive client care with each interaction.

Holly joined Bank of America in 1996 as a credit analyst trainee. She spent six years working in various roles in the Corporate and Investment Bank, including corporate banker, covering a portfolio of insurance and asset management clients, and as COO of Corporate Banking Group.

She is also currently the co-executive sponsor of the Massachusetts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Employee Network and has also served as the co-executive sponsor for the Virtual Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development for Woman organization.

The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Wix Answers, the industry’s first customer support platform to solve modern support challenges and create impactful change for your business.

This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Wix Answers! Enjoy the show!

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