Mark Vanderpool
Founder and President

In the evolving commercial banking landscape, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked a conversation about the future of employment within community banks. I want to address a common misconception: the goal of AI adoption is not about replacing jobs; it’s about bolstering the human element of customer service in community banks.

In today’s regional job markets, finding, training and retaining qualified staff is one of community banks’ most significant challenges. In this regard, AI can be an ally, helping address unmet customer demand by handling routine inquiries and tasks like fetching balances, transaction histories or bill payments. This augmented automation allows employees to focus on more complex issues that require a personal touch or critical thinking.

Consider the frustration of customers waiting on hold, only to be greeted by an overwhelmed service agent who is managing a 10th consecutive call without a break. Contrast this with the option of immediate self-service for routine tasks, with the assurance that a live agent is available for more nuanced support. This dual approach respects the customers’ time and offers a more satisfying interaction.

Here are some of the key areas where banks that leverage AI can benefit:

1. Customer Expectations: In the digital age, customers expect 24/7 availability. AI can provide after-hours service, answering basic questions and performing simple transactions to help ensure that customer needs are met in a timely fashion.

2. Resource Optimization: AI can handle high volumes of routine tasks with consistent accuracy, allowing human employees to concentrate on areas that generate more value for the bank and its customers

3. Job Satisfaction: Removing monotonous tasks from staff workloads can allow employees to engage in more rewarding work, improving job satisfaction and reducing turnover.

4. Scalability: AI systems can be scaled to handle increased demand without the need for proportional increases in staff – something that can be particularly beneficial for community banks with limited resources.

5. Risk Management: AI can help identify and mitigate risks by analyzing patterns that may be indicative of fraudulent activity.

When contemplating the adoption of AI, senior leadership should prioritize these considerations:

  • Human-AI Collaboration: Establish clear protocols on how AI will enhance, not replace, the work of human employees.
  • Training and Development: Invest in training staff to work alongside AI, turning potential job displacement into job evolution.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure AI tools comply with industry regulations and maintain the confidentiality and security of customer information.

Implementing AI is not about choosing technology over people; it’s about integrating technology into the workforce to create a more dynamic, efficient and customer-centric banking environment. Banks that deploy AI in this way can meet current market demands and future-proof their operations.

The strategic adoption of AI in community banks should be seen not as a tale of man versus machine but rather as a synergistic partnership with the potential to elevate customer service and significantly enhance operational efficiency. This integration, when handled thoughtfully, promises to complement the human workforce, foster job satisfaction and help ensure that community banks remain competitive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.


Mark Vanderpool

Founder and President

Mark Vanderpool is the founder and president of Directlink, a provider of communications solutions for community banks. He formerly worked in the military and for IMS, Inc., where he was vice president of conversational AI.