Customer Success

Why Digital Banking Is Here to Stay: Insights from Zions Bancorporation

When the livelihoods of Zions Bancorporation’s customers and communities were threatened by COVID-19, the Utah-based bank turned to Salesforce and Customer 360 to support a high volume of loan requests. Using Salesforce Customer Communities and Service Cloud, Zions Bancorporation has been able to automate the application process, and provide tracking information and increased visibility to customers waiting for their loans.

And to prepare for the availability of relief funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Zions built a loan application portal on Salesforce in just seven days and became the ninth largest distributor of Paycheck Protection Program funds in Round One — an outsized contribution from the nation’s 38th largest bank. In total, Zions Bancorporation processed more than 42,000 loans, valued at approximately $7 billion.

Salesforce sat down with Zions Bancorporation’s SVP and Director of Digital Marketing, Jesse Ronnow, to discuss how it has responded to COVID-19, including leveraging Salesforce technology to support its bankers, customers and communities virtually:

Q. What are the challenges your industry is facing as a result of COVID-19?

The pandemic has significantly impacted the banking industry as a whole. Banking has often been a late adopter in terms of technology. And while the majority of big banks had already started pushing towards digital transformation before COVID-19, there were tools and services that had not been fully implemented or utilized.

With shelter-in-place orders and restricted branch access protocols, banks have been compelled to accelerate digital initiatives as employees and customers have become more dependent upon technology. Consumers are rapidly adopting digital tools — such as mobile wallets, mobile check deposits and contactless payments — which is making digital banking a critical, lasting imperative for the industry.

Q. What are the specific challenges Zions Bancorporation needed to solve, and how did Salesforce help your organization overcome them?

Zions Bancorporation carries a strong tradition of stewardship toward the communities in which we do business. In fact, it is one of our Guiding Principles. Anticipating the potential disruption to the livelihoods of friends and neighbors from the effects of the coronavirus was a challenge for our entire enterprise and we knew we needed to reach out and offer assistance in any way we could.

As more and more details regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) emerged, our Chairman and CEO Harris Simmons, along with our entire executive leadership team, viewed this as an important opportunity to offer business owners and their employees this lifeline. Our clients were telling us how crucial this relief would be for their businesses, and the scope of the demand quickly became overwhelming.

We needed a proven platform that would allow us to quickly design a solution that would scale fast enough to capture the largest demand we could foresee. We installed the Communities Code on the morning of Wednesday, April 1; accepted our first application in test on Saturday, April 4; went live on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 7; and by the end of that same day, we had accepted over 15,000 PPP applications via Salesforce Community Cloud. Salesforce enabled us to accelerate the entire solution process from design to launch, allowing us to help thousands of small businesses in communities across the 11-state Zions Bancorporation footprint.

Q. As the PPP program evolves and focus shifts to managing a forgiveness process, what role will Salesforce play?

We have deployed a Community Cloud based solution for all forgiveness requests. The system is live now and many borrowers have started the process. As there have been many recent changes in the legislation, the development work has shifted focus and changed in scope many times. The flexibility and ease of working with Community Cloud has been a huge win for us, and made the forgiveness process easy for our borrowers.

Q. What lessons did you take away from this project?

I never intended to be a banker. I wanted to live in Idaho to fly fish, so getting a job at Zions Bancorporation was a means to that very specific end. But the reason I have stayed in the industry, and with Zions for nearly 16 years, is because of the positive impact banking has on the lives of so many people. Small businesses are the lifeblood of this country, and helping small business owners grow and thrive is a special type of work to be involved in.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the people, regardless of what you do. So, as I look at it, Salesforce Community Cloud allowed our teams at Zions Bancorporation to help as many people as we possibly could, as quickly as we possibly could. This experience has taught me many lessons, but two really stand out:

First, as Winston Churchill once said, “Fear is a response; courage is a choice.” Choose to be courageous, in everything you do.

And second, digital transformation is a mindset, not a tool set.

Q. Many business processes will be forever altered by COVID-19. What are some ways in which your organization has reinvented how you serve your customers, employees, and business partners, now and going forward?

Digital technologies amplify the unique business model Zions Bancorporation employs to enable our bankers to be more responsive and efficient in delivering superior results to our customers.

To take this to its fullest impact, we need to adopt the digital mindset we employed to build our PPP solution and use it to solve the many other problems of tomorrow. Digital banking solutions are here to stay. So, we must build off the momentum we created with Community Cloud and continue working with our business partners to implement new digital solutions that will enable our employees to solve problems for our customers.

Q. The way companies take care of their stakeholders during this time is critical and will have an enduring impact on trust. How are you living your values during this crisis?

I hold myself accountable when I don’t do my best. Taking accountability demonstrates that we all stumble from time to time and that we can course correct, move forward and do better the next time around. Showing people how to grow through times of struggle is far more effective than telling them how.

Q. What is your vision for the future, and how is Salesforce helping you realize this vision?

I hope community banking continues to be a profession that is sought after, interesting and cool — a profession that attracts talented people who want to solve big problems and help others.

I’m working to make that vision a reality by deploying digital solutions from Salesforce in an effort to set up our bankers to win, help bring our clients greater success and enable our employees to make positive contributions in their communities.

For more information on Zions Bancorporation, N.A. and its affiliates, please visit their website.