Branch – Making your primary sales engine more efficient

A new NCR survey reveals consumers expect greater personalization and a more integrated service from their banks. Are companies ready to respond?

The once critical bank branch has come under a lot of strain in recent years, with the rise of online and mobile services offering alternatives for consumers, and cost pressures a constant factor.

But it remains an essential channel that banks cannot afford to reduce their focus on. Closing branches is always a last resort, and one that’s typically met with negative headlines, because despite the growing capabilities of online and mobile, the branch experience is still the first port of call for over 50% of Gen X or Y customers.

So how can branches maintain profitability and effectiveness without compromising on service levels? The key to a successful branch transformation is to understand where digital and self service activities can help, and where the personal interaction is still required.

Boosting efficiency with self service

One of the biggest challenges for many bank staff is that they often find themselves spending large parts of their day dealing with straightforward, routine transactions that do not make the best use of their skills, or generate much revenue for the bank. Activities such as handling deposits can be very time-consuming – but are something that can be easily shifted to self-service technology.

By encouraging consumers to try out these kiosks when they enter a branch, this reduces queues for tellers and frees up their time to deal with more complex transactions and those which generate revenue for the business. This will allow bank branches to manage their staff much more efficiently and ensure they’re always available when they’re needed.

However, branch transformations that focus exclusively on self-service solutions may find these solutions do not please everyone. Such strategies must be carefully planned to ensure they do not disenfranchise certain customers who may be more resistant, and banks must understand that digital should not refer only to self-service.

Beyond the counter

Maintaining the personal touch of a face-to-face interaction is hugely important, but with a well-planned digital transformation, this doesn’t have to mean customers queuing up at a counter. In today’s environment, the branch doesn’t just refer to the physical bricks and mortar. It extends to offerings such as home visits and, thanks to video technology, the contact center.

Self-service kiosks that have video technology equipped can serve double-duty as both a quick and easy way to complete basic transactions and a hub to get advice if and when they need it. As more than half of customers still favor personal interactions, this is a great way to balance digital and face-to-face services.

As well as countering any worries that migrating to digital and self-service solutions may alienate non-tech savvy customers, as there will always be a friendly, human face available to help them, the use of video teller technology helps futureproof the role and make it fit for a 24/7 society.

This means staff can work more flexibly, assist customers wherever they are and are not restricted to the branch and its standard working hours, allowing banks to provide services around the clock. This therefore makes the best possible use of one of their greatest assets – knowledgeable staff – and allows them to transform branches to support this, rather than close them.

Written by Martin Shires

Martin Shires is a global evangelist for branch transformation strategy, based out of NCR’s R&D center in Dundee, UK. Martin has held a number of senior regional management roles in European retail banking.

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