Ally Financial builds customer trust and innovative services with Zoom

Ally Financial builds customer trust and innovative services with Zoom

Ally Financial deployed Zoom to enable an agile, digital-first approach that improved customer and employee experience alike.

As a leading digital financial services company, Ally Financial is dedicated to ‘making banking smarter and simpler.’ And it has worked to do so for the past century, with the organization evolving as customer needs change – beginning as an automobile financier and modernizing into an innovative provider for online banking, lending, home loans and wealth management.

Sathish Muthukrishnan, Chief Information, Data and Digital Officer, Ally Financial

Now, with customers’ expectations for elevated services ‘through the roof’, Sathish Muthukrishnan, Chief Information, Data and Digital Officer at Ally, knew the company had to deploy the right tools to enable an agile, digital-first approach that would improve customer and employee experience alike. 

Where trust and innovation meet

Continuity and innovation are never in contrast with each other at Ally which is based in Detroit, Michigan. With customers facing unrivaled uncertainty in 2020, the institution took on the challenges posed by the pandemic and found a way to provide both relief and new services to customers. 

“Ally was the first financial institution to provide relief for our customers. We offered a fully digital capability for our customers to rewrite their loans online. You didn’t have to pick up the phone,” Muthukrishnan said. 

While a crisis sparked the innovation, a theme of disruption continued in 2020 and beyond, as Muthukrishnan noted: “From an innovation standpoint, we rolled out in 2020 what we call ‘savings buckets.’ It’s our way of helping customers figure out where and what they want to save for and what is important to them. We allow easy manipulation and movement of money, including automated savings.”  

Customer experience may be fueled by innovation, but it hinges on trust — a fact that Ally, like many financial services institutions, knows well. 

“The relationship that we have with our customers is based on trust, and security plays a massive role in creating the trust because our customers are not coming in and seeing us. Everything is digital,” Muthukrishnan said. 

He added: “I appreciate the fact that we can introduce the level of security that is required for our operations with Zoom. The flexibility and configuration, from a security standpoint, that Zoom offers is beneficial to us and how we operate. We create our relationships based on trust with our customers and security is a critical enabler of that.”

An avenue for learning and growth

Ally had to rethink not only the customer experience but also the employee experience in real time in the face of COVID-19.

“I often say this fondly — we created 10,000 branch offices overnight. When you have a larger population of employees that are remote, you need tools that are easy to adapt, and Zoom definitely fits into that category. It provided functionality in a very simple manner that people can understand across all parts of the organization and adopt,” Muthukrishnan noted. 

“Being only a Zoom call away helps overcome a certain anxiety – an inertia – in terms of having a conversation. And having everybody operate from the same platform is a great place to be for a company like ours,” he added.

Once Ally used Zoom to operationalize widespread remote work, the organization soon applied the technology to update legacy processes and programs. Chief among them: training for customer care representatives.

“Training on Zoom is a major breakthrough for us – you don’t have to sit there and train them physically. It’s a huge help for them in terms of bridging the learning gap and learning curve. We can roll out training at a much faster rate.”

Enabling the future of work

Ally is now transitioning into a hybrid work environment – and Muthukrishnan continues to look to Zoom to connect people.

“Solving the future-of-work problem at Ally means extending digital connectivity, regardless of where our employees are,” he said. “It’s creating a workplace that provides flexibility to come into an office as needed, and also lets you collaborate and interface virtually as well.

“To establish digital connectivity and take it to the next level, we have introduced Zoom Rooms in our new building. As we are creating the future of work, these new buildings are a critical part of it.”

This ‘digital connectivity’ helps bind a distributed workforce together, as Muthukrishnan said: “[With Zoom Rooms] there are people at home connecting to people in the building. Somebody can walk up to the screen and draw something on the board that everybody can see, even if the camera is not pointing. That’s critical for us.”

The need for equitable collaboration across a hybrid workforce has only expanded Ally’s use of Zoom.

“We are testing the Smart Gallery feature to help everybody feel like they’re part of the room,” Muthukrishnan said.

When it comes to events, Ally understands that employees and customers want the flexibility to attend virtually. They used Zoom Events to host their Supplier Diversity Symposium where their top suppliers spoke alongside Jeffrey Brown, Ally’s CEO. 

T.J. Lewis, Head of Supplier Diversity at Ally, said: “We’re committed to providing minority and women-owned businesses with direct visibility to Ally’s senior decision-makers. We used Zoom Events to host our Supplier Diversity Symposium because it enabled our suppliers to speak alongside our senior leaders, including CEO Jeffrey Brown.

“The platform was perfect for giving suppliers the flexibility to attend virtually while ensuring we could share information in an engaging way. It was easy to set up and launch and is a great way to further strengthen our relationships with these businesses.” 

A strategic partner in innovation

Ally found a trusted partner in Zoom — technology that seamlessly ladders into its innovative approach to financial services.

“Zoom is one of the critical pillars for how we develop acceleration and ease of execution internally,” Muthukrishnan said. 

By working with strategic partners like Zoom, Ally is embracing a new era of innovation and agility. “Innovation is not just part of our DNA. It’s expected within the company. And it’s a lifeblood of how we operate as a digital native organization.”

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