Waltz with elephants: from the Soviet box office to pay in one click

Paying bills in Sberbank 10 years ago was a whole quest. Task number one is to catch the cashiers until they are gone by the company for lunch, task number two is to keep the line. The opportunity to stand in a civilized manner on a coupon, jealously not watching the next “who is the last,” seemed to be something of science fiction. What to say about paying bills in a couple of clicks from a mobile phone. How the brand of the bank has changed, or who taught elephants to dance, read in the “Izvestia” material.

“We have to prove that elephants can dance,” said German Gref in November 2007, almost immediately after he replaced Andrei Kazmin as head of Sberbank. On Friday, February 8, he turns 55 years old.

The experts appointed the appointment of the ex-Minister of Economic Development and Trade as a whole approvingly, excluding the possibility of collapse. But they did not even assume that an organization associated with the population with a Soviet-type savings bank would survive such a transformation.

Simple complicated things
Brand Finance, an international consulting company, recognized Sberbank as the strongest banking brand in 2018. Its value at the end of the year was estimated at $ 12.4 billion.

In 2007, such a rank had only to dream. It was still a long way from the same electronic queues. But it was possible to make it faster without new technologies. German Gref canceled an hour-long fixed lunch break at the bank’s offices. Then the employees began to leave the workplace in turn, which solved many problems. In addition, in order to perform various operations, customers had to defend the notorious queue in different windows. The head of Sberbank also introduced the principle of the work of one window. Priorities were lined up with numbers: at least 20% of free time people spent in queues. “We can donate one day a week to our clients for the realization of their personal main goals,” said the chairman of the bank’s board.

Optimization of work within each department gave a quick and visible effect to the client. But it was possible to achieve a massive breakthrough by streamlining Sberbank’s extensive regional network throughout the country, with an adequate load distribution. And all this taking into account the interests of people on the ground – of all ages and opportunities. There were products for students and retirees, and the point bank is setting up a system for people with disabilities.

Internal order
To create a “bank with a human face”, we cannot do without a stable staff. Because one of the priorities was the reduction of turnover. This figure dropped sharply – 1.5 times. So, the problem of the inhospitable staff, who happened to be in the structure by chance, was partially solved. In order to have an assessment from the outside, a panel with emoticons appeared on each window – after each operation each client can assess the friendliness of the employee and thereby influence the personnel policy so that the bank does not return to the echoes of the Soviet banks.

Three years ago, German Gref himself decided to check the consistency of the system. To do this, he put on a special suit, so that the staff took him for a person with disabilities, and went to the test purchase. Pretending to be a disabled person who needs a loan, the head of Sberbank has become a trend in social networks.

Having stopped the turnover, the bank management launched a permanent process of professional development for employees of all levels and divisions. Weaning employees from rudeness and inculcating European friendliness became not a kick, but training. And this is one of the milestones of Sberbank’s corporate culture.

It is significant that the management sent employees – not ordinary, but division heads – to the “Leaders of Russia” competition, in which German Gref himself acts as a mentor. He is confident that for a leader the main mission at a certain stage is to raise one’s own kind. Moreover, now in Russia “the meritocratic principle begins to work, when your career depends only on your talent and your abilities to realize it,” he noted.

This approach is confirmed in the cases. Sberbank’s own corporate university has been operating for several years. In addition to his staff, top managers of third-party organizations are trained there. If we are talking about the public administration sector, the accumulated knowledge is ready to be transferred there even for free. Cooperation with him, of course, does not end with the educational sphere. One of the important measures was the opening of branches in remote areas, which, in addition to banking services, are provided by public services. So Sberbank helped doubly simplify the lives of customers living in difficult conditions.

Blow number
Ten years ago it was difficult to speak seriously about a mobile application and transferring money to another account in one click. Even the SMS notification of operations was a novelty, greatly simplifying life. Now a convenient interface in a mobile application can be a decisive factor when choosing a bank.

Sberbank has advantages here – it has become one of the main promoters of the digital revolution among Russian banks. He was the first to make a payment on the blockchain technology, tested the delivery of pensions by the drones, mastered the latest Big Data management technologies, and started developing a face recognition technology and evaluating a potential borrower on social networks, which they promise to implement in the next couple of years. Already, the mechanism for obtaining a loan is maximally simplified – piles of papers are in the past. It is significant that Sberbank occupies 40% of the lending market. The automated systems of the bank cope with the current threats, reflecting several hundred cyberattacks a day.

The changes affected the commercial sector. Sberbank strengthened its position in the eyes of legal entities, refusing the help of the government and the Central Bank at the height of the 2014 crisis, and, most importantly, it finally proved its strength. The representatives of small and medium-sized businesses have at their disposal tools that have created significant competitive advantages for Sberbank. First, these are special conditions for cash management services, especially relevant in the wake of the mass phased introduction of cash registers for individual entrepreneurs and self-employed. Secondly, personal managers who can be sent to the territory of the client. Third, Sberbank has developed salary offers for corporate clients.

And this is only a part of the spectrum of possibilities, among which is also assistance in tax registration, accounting programs, etc. Returning to the topic of education, entrepreneurs can get in Sberbank a package of special training programs created jointly with the IT giant Google, where they learn about the intricacies of doing business, including its initial stages.

Advanced training is only one of the areas of non-banking business, in which Sberbank has gone deep. He went beyond the financial sector, in particular, by launching a free IT school for young programmers of the sample of Silicon Valley.

Application for the future
Returning 10 years ago, you can appreciate the difficult way built in stages, which is much more complicated than the evolution of the Soviet box office to financial operations in one click. The team of German Gref is going to build a platform with an independent ecosystem, which includes both partners and customers, which now number more than 80 million.

“We set ourselves a new goal, a new task – to achieve a new level of competitiveness, allowing us to compete with technology companies, while remaining the best bank for our customers,” emphasized German Gref, presenting the development strategy of Sberbank until 2020.

He assesses the future without illusions, not excluding that in the long term, taking into account the digitalization of banks, he will not remain at all. But while such a picture is presented with difficulty, Sber is consistently developing both as a bank and as a new format for our country — an ecosystem.