Joseph Valasquez has had a few months to settle in at Bank of America in the position of Technology & Operations Quality and Productivity executive. He's trying to get to know his new colleagues, of course, but also his new industry. This is his first position in banking.

In what has become something of a trend, recently appointed BofA Chief Financial Officer Ken Lewis has appointed almost two dozen executives from outside the financial services sector to high-powered positions within the bank. In Valasquez' case, however, being a non-banker in the banking industry is not necessarily a disadvantage. Valasquez, who served most recently as the chief quality officer at Sunbeam Corp., a position strikingly similar to his new job at BofA, comes to the bank with a wealth of experience in customer service.

Valasquez envisions his role at BofA as one that will be firmly built on experience, utilizing his knowledge from former positions to improve customer service at the bank.

Before Sunbeam, Valasquez worked with Allied Signal-Aerospace, which has now merged with Honeywell, as a key figure in making strategic and tactical plans for "Operation Excellence," utilizing Six Sigma principles. Valasquez describes the use of the Sigma Process at Allied Signal as a "very aggressive approach to drive out defects" and thereby improve customer service.

The Sigma Process is the methodology of improving overall customer satisfaction at Allied Signal. It is a process adopted by Allied Signal as a compilation of experiences and development of strategy over the years.

With the Sigma Process concept in mind, Valasquez says that one of the most important parts of banking is being "intensely customer focused." He intends to "start at the end and work backward" as a way of improving customer service at Bank of America.

Valasquez sees technology as a powerful tool in the banking industry when approaching customer service. He says that it is necessary to "[align] the core processes of technology that we have so that they're directly related to the customer. [Technology] should be externally focused on the customer," Valasquez explains.

In the most simplistic of terms, the ultimate goal, which is contingent on customer satisfaction, is to "be one of the most admired companies in the world," Valasquez emphasizes.

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