teller stations in the bank with the arrival of cash recyclers and pod banking experiences (free-standing discussion centers). Th e enhanced tech-nology led to making transactions more effi cient, which led to redesigning bank lobbies to support movement in the fi nancial center with pod bank-ing experiences. Essentially, the technological advances have prompted the customer interac-tion options available in upgrading the fi nancial center experience. In eff ect, the technology advancements have enabled or allowed for universal employees. Extraco Consulting partnered with Extraco Banks and developed SWARM Banking more than 10 years ago. SWARM Banking is a uni-versal banker model, allowing full movement in the fi nancial center — or SWARMing to where the customer traffi c is in the lobby. Employees are trained to focus on quality conversa-tions and provide a full-service experience to customers, when-ever possible. Technology is one of the four main components of SWARM Banking (see diagram above), but notice where it is in the progression. It enables the change in experience but it is not the fi rst step in the process. Most organizations purchase technology fi rst, but we learned fi rsthand that you ca n’t buy your way into effi ciency — that’s where the people, products, processes and technology are related as the foundation of the model. For instance, in changing the customer experience to a universal banker model, the people component was the fi rst step in the process that needed to be considered and modifi ed. Th ere needed to be new job tasks performed to support the experience objectives, enhanced and much more robust and structured training, as well as a new hiring model for future employees. Th ere was truly a change-management process required to support the change in expectations and delivery of the service model, illustrating that banking background is no longer the most important attribute for a new employee. Instead, hiring for personality became the most important ob-jective, as we have a robust training program that can certify someone to become a banker. Th is new hiring model allows for additional fl exibility in recruiting talent to provide a superior customer experience. Th e next step is to focus on the products off ered, support-ing market demands while keeping products simple to explain and understand. In some cases, fi nancial institutions may off er too many products for employees and customers to truly un-derstand. In fact, institutions that have been around for longer periods of time may even need to review their grandfathered accounts to determine if they need to be streamlined in an ac-ceptable manner to their customers. Th e third component, processes, is extremely important to support true effi ciency in daily operations, as well as the desired customer experience. Some processes may need to be modifi ed to provide empowerment to the frontline employees to have owner-ship of the customer experience. Other processes may need to be centralized in the back offi ce to remove the administrative tasks on the frontline and support quality conversations with custom-ers. It is important to map each process reviewed from start to fi nish, not skipping any steps, including all departments involved. For instance, don’t just map the front-line or operational aspects of a process, instead the process needs to be all encompassing. Th e objective of the project is to focus on the desired customer and employee experience in all interactions. Technology, the fourth component, is the hub and enabler of the experience. It ’s important to note that if you don’t have the other components around it and in the correct order, it is hard to be successful and fully experience the effi ciency benefi ts. In fact, last year Extraco Banks and Extraco Consulting worked with Jack Henry and Associates to become the certifi ed beta bank to continue their branch transformation strategies with the launch of “ExtraBanker.” Th is is a full-service and self-service delivery channel, both inside and outside of existing branches, allowing customer transactions to be serviced by an off -premises relationship banker via video technology. Extraco focused on choosing a solution that could provide direct inte-gration to the institution’s core system and remove the necessity to re-key every transaction into the core, which simultaneously removes the prevalence of human error and provides a more ef-fi cient process to support an enhanced employee and customer experience. Th is integrated approach will shorten the return on investment for this type of technology dramatically. In conclusion, branches aren’t going away, but fi nancial institutions should consider upgrading their technology to match the culture of customers with the technology available to support customer preferences. Technology is constantly evolving and fi nancial institutions need to focus on enhancing their people, products, processes and technology to continue to be successful. James Geeslin is vice chairman and chief consumer banking offi cer for Extraco Banks, a privately owned $1.4 billion bank headquar-tered in Temple, Texas. Geeslin is also the president and CEO of Extraco Consulting, a fi rm providing guidance to fi nancial institu-tions across the United States. Lindsay Green is managing director of Extraco Consulting. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.