Transforming Your Branch: Technology Updates Make a Significant Impact on a Bank’s Future
In 2007, the iPhone was released. In 2019, predictions estimate consumers will spend $122B on iPhone applications. In less than 15 years, mobile technologies have taken hold and immensely impacted consumers way of life. But before the birth of smart phones, applications, and the internet, advancements in banking technology were a primary influence to consumers’ routine. Nearly 50 years ago, a surge of banking technology advancements brought ATMs to market which allowed customers to access their accounts 24/7. Point of Sale technologies emerged for credit and debit card use which dramatically reduced processing and increased security, allowing for faster and more flexible payment options. Without these two major innovations, just to name a few, we would still be confined to only accessing our accounts during normal business hours and watching cashiers make carbon copies of our credit cards. Banking has always been at the forefront of advancing technology. And while seemingly unrelated technologies have emerged into the mainstream, banking innovations have persisted to evolve and integrate, developing robust online banking platforms and mobile applications built on revolutionary, and often unnoticed, technology. This push and pull of tech leadership and influence has reshaped the landscape for consumers’ needs and expectations from the companies they interact with most. And banking is no exception.
The new technologies impacting the way customers conduct their banking has also impacted the perceptions and expectations customer have for their financial institutions, especially as it relates to in-branch experiences. A recent report from Celent asked customers what sort of branch experience would prompt them to switch banks. Customers responded with: banking associates not equipped to help them (68 percent), long wait lines (55 percent), and impersonal service that shows the bank doesn’t know them or what they need (49 percent).
But, while customers want automation for quick transactions, 77 percent said they preferred face-to-face branch visits for more in-depth topics.
Achieving the right balance of technology and in-person servicing is a strategic focus of current and future bank leadership. How to approach the evolving role of brick-and-mortar experiences with tech-saavy customers and still provide personalized service is an exciting new challenge that will grow customer loyalty and reduce operational costs. For instance, incorporating transaction fluidity by equipping branch employees with tablets that provide an uninterrupted customer interaction from initial greeting to final close can be implemented by a branch-by-branch transformation strategy. Or, increasing accessibility by positioning Interactive Teller Machines (ITM) in remote locations that act as a “branch-in-a-box”, connecting users with live human bankers and offering services of a traditional branch. But transformations can also come to life with less direct impact to customers. Transformed branches see significant return from an approach that focuses primarily on updating the existing operational technology. Investing in a conversion to upgraded teller capture or image processing systems quickly yields strong efficiency gains and substantial reduction in overall back-office expenses.
Implementing a branch-by-branch strategy or a comprehensive systems conversion, these approaches share a fundamental consideration, and it doesn’t involve screens or buttons, construction or renovating. It’s the people – branch employees. All too often the dominant focus of determining appropriate upgrades for the customer or the bottom line leaves the company’s most valuable asset to an afterthought. And as employees grow uncertain of their new, or eliminated roles, reluctance to change ensues and low morale sets in. Change management, at all levels, must be considered and in action throughout the entirety of the process to achieve a successful branch transformation.
Seven Technology Considerations for The Bank of the Future:
- How does technology fit into the physical layout, strategy, and mission of the individual branch in relation to the overarching brand?
- What changes can be implemented now to meet the needs of customers in 5 and 10 years?
- How will present employees responsibilities be effected? What will future responsibilities entail?
- What banking technology does your customer base already operate outside of the branch?
- What is the most effective way to select and manage vendors of a transforming branch?
- How will marketing tactics be adjusted to integrate with new servicing options?
- How will the rollout of these changes be structured to gain buy-in from internal teams and customers?
The bank of the future is here, and it utilizes current technology to streamline operational processes, and enables customers to personalize their own level of in-person service with quick independent digital transactions to one-on-one servicing from start to finish. Whether it’s implementing service terminals, teller cash recyclers, robot greeters, or interactive digital walls, transforming a branch requires a thoughtful examination of customers, employees, brand, and budget to create a pinpointed game plan and successful integration.
At The RWC Group, we embark upon branch transformation projects with discovery–beginning with a review of the bank’s core mission and values, bank structure, and strategic initiatives to build a tailored 360-degree plan of transformation to ensure overall success. Branch transformation initiatives are both complex and invigorating. Our expert team will work together with bank executives and branch management to develop a strategic road map for implementation, improved customer experience, and increased bank productivity and efficiency before we put that plan into action with our experienced conversion teams to ensure proper execution, and a smooth transition.