The renaissance in retail banking is here, and not a moment too soon.

Since the economic crisis in 2008, nearly 5,000 U.S. banks have closed their doors, and the rest of the world isn’t too far behind. In the last year alone, more than 600 bank branches have closed across Britain.

While some of this is a reflection of macroeconomic issues, the primary – and growing – threat to banks and credit unions is related to the digital age we’re living in. Declining cost-income ratios, competition from fintech startups and blue chip technology companies, as well as mobile and online banking channels – these are the new realities facing financial institutions today.

However, all is not lost. As we’ve seen with our own clients, the success and survival of financial institutions in our digital age is now predicated on the adoption of consumer-friendly technologies to create personalized, omnichannel experiences.

Today, many banks and credit unions are bridging the gap between their digital content and physical locations. Similar to the retail industry, omnichannel strategies are quickly becoming a key component in attracting and retaining new customers.

The promise of these digital transformation projects has been validated by management consulting firm, McKinsey. Their analysis suggests retail banks embracing digital may see profit gains of more than 40 percent. Further, the inflow of revenue from digital sales can reach more than 50 percent by 2018, according to their estimations. So, what’s there to lose?

Recently we’ve seen more financial institutions at the regional, national and multi-national level, make strides toward digital innovation. And the common thread between all of these projects has been the focus on making them customer-centric, and bringing about positive and profitable change.

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), the world’s largest credit union, has been using tablets in their branches to reinvent the customer experience and to help address some key business problems. Tablets were a cost effective and flexible option enabling NFCU to quickly test and rollout digital solutions across branch locations nationwide.

Replacing traditional teller lines with iPad kiosk solutions, customers interact with self-service touch points to manage all of their personal banking needs. Employees can assist customers if they have questions, of course, but it also frees up bank staff to spend more time focusing on high-value transactions. Additionally, some NFCU branches have infotainment stations where children can play games and interact with educational content.

Salesforce, the enterprise computing company, is also working with banks and credit unions to help them get more out of their digital marketing efforts. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud gives financial institutions the tools to stay connected with their customers at every touch point. By mapping out the customer journey and understanding more about them, businesses can create more intelligent, personalized experiences that can lead to more revenue-driving, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Omnichannel strategies are a new cornerstone for financial institutions. Businesses must focus on the customer experience to drive innovation. The successful projects we’ve seen in retail and now in banks, center around the user not technology. This is a paradigm shift a lot of companies are struggling with, but with smart design approaches and consumer technologies, banks can offer better commercial and customer services.

 

Tobi Schneidler is the founder and CEO of Bouncepad. In his role, Tobi drives the strategic direction and growth of the business, while ensuring the company continues to shape the future of retail technology and customer experience.

Written by Tobi Schneidler