1. Omnichannel is table stakes. Nearly everyone agrees that a true omnichannel experience is a requirement to succeed in retail banking. “The industry is doing pretty well providing real-time data for monetary transactions in all channels,” Kerstein believes, but he sees limited integration on customer service. “Most institutions still lack the ability to start an application in one channel (e.g. online) and have it be immediately available on others (e.g. a branch).
2. Rethink and remake the branch experience. There is increasing recognition that even in this era of smartphones, it is still worth a visit to a branch if the experience is worthwhile. Several sources pointed to Capital One’s branch cafes that re-imagine branches as coffee bars and co-working spaces as a good example, but there are many others.
3. Keep the bankers relevant. As long as the fundamentals of location, function and product-set are sound, the physical structure is not the key to branch relevance. Rather, maintains Bancography’s Steve Reider, the key is “keeping the bankersrelevant.” That puts the focus on hiring and developing staff with the right skill-sets, giving them decision-making authority, and encouraging them to assimilate themselves into the fabric of their communities or local markets.
4. Fully automated cash and coin handling. Ideally, all or most cash and coin deposits and withdrawals will migrate to ATMs and other automated machines, freeing up staff time and space. The number of financial institutions planning to equip universal bankers (or other staff members) with tablets shot up 25% in 2017 to 51% in 2018. Interactive kiosks and interactive teller machines both came in at 44% in 2018, a ten percentage point increase.
5. Observe and take lessons from the retail industry. Consumers expect and demand technology that works during the online buying experience and they require the in-person shopping experience to reflect that, says Codigo’s Brian Nutt. Elements of this that banks and credit union can include in their “stores” include digital signage, interactive self-service experiences, and remote access to subject-matter experts.
6. Branch relevance is emotional as well as practical. The practical, which includes transactions and problem-solving, must be done well — account opening in fiveminutes, not 45, for example. On an emotional level, the branch must deliver a consistent, increasingly personalized experience if the consumer relationship is to be deeper, last longer and be more profitable, says Market Insights’ Joe Sullivan.
7. Provide branch staff with the tools and training to fill a relationship/advisory role. That includes robust CRM tools, tablets, fast data connections to reduce wait times, and training in proactive listening and other interpersonal skills.
8. Think “digital first”. That’s not a contradiction. Remember, many consumers prefer digital and then use the branch for what they cannot get from digital, says LEVEL5’s John Hyche. “Each channel must work together in an ecosystem that drives engagement.”
Source: Bill Streeter, The Financial Brand