Branch still matters – but are you giving users the channels they want?

These days, banking isn’t just about the branch or the contact center. Today’s consumers expect a full range of channels that allow them to bank how, where and when they like, and this is something that financial institutions have to respond to.

This means delivering a comprehensive omnichannel experience that ensures customers are able to conduct the activities they what on the platform they want, without having to compromise on features or user experience. However, it seems not every customer is actually receiving such a service.

Consumers still reliant on the branch

A recent study by Bain and Company of US banking consumers, for example, found that millennial customers – those normally thought of as ‘digital natives’ – remain reliant on in-branch services. It noted that while 82 percent of these customers had adopted mobile technology, 86 percent had still visited a teller in the last three months.

This may indicate that these consumers still value the personal interaction and quality of service that the branch provides, but closer inspection suggests this may not necessarily be the case. Among the heavier users of tellers, 42 percent of younger customers stated they had attempted to use a different channel before visiting the branch.

In fact, when it comes to activities such as paying bills, depositing checks and resolving issues with their accounts, younger customers with less banking experience report that digital options are often confusing or inadequate for their needs, which therefore drives them to seek help from the branch.

Encouraging digital interactions

Helping customers of all ages to migrate day-to-day interactions to digital channels will therefore be invaluable for banks, as it is much more cost-effective and frees up in-branch staff to focus their time on more complex interactions where they can provide value added services.

Gerard du Toit, head of Bain’s Banking Practice and lead author of the report, highlighted that for straightforward activities, digital self-service channel costs can be around one-tenth that of a teller visit or phone conversation. So how can financial institutions encourage their uses towards these services?

While improving the functionality and usability of digital options is a key first step to creating a truly omnichannel banking experience, the branch itself also has a role to play in highlighting these services to customers – both old and young.

“Banks are missing a major opportunity to teach young consumers to bank and older consumers to self-bank,” said Mr du Toit. “Boomers in particular are ripe for mobile conversion. They just lack support and help from their banks to make the leap.”

Providing the support users need

The research showed only 17 percent of older respondents and 26 percent of younger customers had received any guidance or training on how to use their bank’s mobile app.

The branch therefore has a key role to play in changing this. Intervening on the front-line and highlighting to users how they can save time by embracing digital channels is another way in which people can be introduced to digital alternatives for everyday transactions.

Bain’s research highlighted, for example, how one bank was able to achieve a 70 percent conversion rate for future interactions by inviting customers to try digital banking with the guidance of a trusted employee they already know.

Written by Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom is NCR’s Senior Director of Global Solutions Marketing. In this position, he is responsible for leading global marketing efforts for all of the division’s consumer- and FI-facing solutions, including digital banking, branch, ATM hardware and software, channel management, payments & transaction processing and enterprise fraud & security. Prior to joining NCR and Digital Insight in 2008, Glenn previously held marketing and general management positions at Intuit, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and American Express. Glenn has a BA in Liberal Arts from Claremont McKenna College, a BS in Industrial Engineering from USC and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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