CrossFirst Bank is taking digital banking to the next level. With a dedicated focus on providing clients with the advanced technology and tools to make banking seamless, CrossFirst Bank’s Chief Technology Officer, Jana Merfen, shares insight into the digital transformation process and how she’s bringing talent and technology together to enhance the customer experience.
Next-Level Digital Banking
The banking industry is experiencing massive digital disruption as consumers show an increased demand for digital banking services. With that trend in mind, CrossFirst Bank embarked on a digital transformation journey starting in 2021. “We looked at our client expectations and where the market is headed over the next five to ten years. We want to ensure we have a tech stack that can integrate solutions with more agile capability and partner with vendors who have the same dedication to moving faster with technology,” shares Merfen.
CrossFirst has a history of listening to their clients and adapting to technology trends quickly. Moving forward with a new digital banking platform is the logical next step. To get there, Jana and the technology team partnered with the business to prepare for a digital transformation journey.
“We identified a firm to evaluate our current environment. Then we built a cross-functional team to perform the RFP, evaluated four vendors, and used a data-driven methodology to set clear, defined requirements that appropriately match our needs with the right vendor,” Merfen explains. Through this process, CrossFirst found a partner to meet the critical pieces of their transformation and help with the inevitable issues and challenges of a large-scale initiative. “We want someone who will get in the trenches with us and figure it out,” adds Merfen.
CrossFirst is currently developing a digital banking solution in partnership with its vendor. It is nearing the finish line and will bring an enhanced experience to clients starting in the fourth quarter.
Supporting the Transformation
No transformation is possible without people. Recognizing the importance of the team doing the work, CrossFirst makes a concerted effort to invest in and communicate to the employees driving change. “We’re focusing on talent and technology. Those are our top two key areas of investment across the entire enterprise, and we’re investing in the best people,” Merfen describes.
"In any big initiative, the focus is on the communication, change management, and training to make it successful."
Perhaps equally important, the organization views digital transformation as a business initiative, not just a technology initiative. “We have an incredible culture here, and we’ve always had strong collaboration in getting the right team members involved. This is one of the more significant initiatives we’ve taken on in the last few years, so the company recognizes the importance of that,” elaborates Merfen.
One of the critical components to approaching such a large initiative is communication, both to internal employees and external clients. Jana and the team intentionally share the impact of changes, communicate early and often, and detail any training needed to support clients and employees throughout the changes. “In any big initiative, the focus is on the communication, change management, and training to make it successful,” Merfen comments.
Taking the time to develop a detailed employee and client communication plan thoughtfully is paying off. “We also leveraged outside resources to augment and help us with training, communication, and onboarding to prepare and support our team and clients,” shares Merfen.
Learning from the Experience
After undertaking the digital transformation experience thus far, Jana has insight for others facing similar initiatives. “Whatever your business, spend time and invest in building relationships and talking with your teammates and clients. When I first joined the bank, I spent a lot of time meeting with our markets and the leaders in each area to really listen and understand areas of opportunity,” advises Merfen. “That’s the biggest lesson – spend more time listening and understanding. It’s the first step before you attempt to make any change,” she adds.
She believes emphasizing the company’s mission and values is critical to moving initiatives forward successfully. “Our mission is to serve our clients in extraordinary ways and anticipate their needs with outstanding products and services,” reveals Merfen. Likewise, the CrossFirst Bank culture unifies employees by focusing on four values that define their approach – character, competence, commitment, and connection. “Our team works together to support our clients and strategy by upholding this concept of one team, one bank, with a shared vision,” expresses Merfen.
Lastly, Jana believes team unity and trust are critical to achieving any initiative, particularly complex digital transformations. She encourages teams to celebrate success along the way. “I personally write thank you cards to my teammates to show appreciation for their work. These initiatives are long and challenging – it’s so important to communicate the wins and accomplishments internally with the team and the broader organization,” Merfen declares.
Keeping the team aligned and focusing on the mission allows CrossFirst to support clients with a new digital banking platform that will enhance their experience and further the mission of delivering extraordinary service.
ABOUT CROSSFIRST BANK
CrossFirst Bank offers business and personal banking services for clients in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. Their vision is to be the most trusted bank in the market by making and keeping their promises while serving people in extraordinary ways.