Branch – Just deliver a coherent service that works please

Discussion abounds about what great consumer experience is, with much of the attention given to ‘Branch Transformation differentiation’. Within this, innovative, digitally-based technology delivered via amazing interfaces with visual excitement is seen as a must.

However, if we were to apply a Maslow approach to consumer experience, long term, ongoing daily consumer satisfaction surveys within retail FIs themselves reveal the most basic need for any customer is a joined up set of processes. This means delivering the services they need with minimum friction, and seamless knowledge transfer across any channel to ensure consumers enjoy conversations with the correct, knowledgeable individual.

Therefore, Branch Transformation – more aptly entitled ‘staff/consumer interaction transformation’ – needs to begin by fixing the basic, long term inconsistencies that lose revenue and goodwill every day, due purely to the failure of the most basic consumer handling processes.

A seamless physical to digital transition

With more people using digital tools, being able to deliver a simple, seamless transition when consumers are moving between physical and digital channels is a must. Everyone involved needs to have the right information at every stage, so both the bank and the customer are on the same page and no-one has to search around for details or repeat themselves.

One challenge is there may be a lot of steps involved in handing over a customer from one channel to another, and each of these creates a risk of crucial data or context being lost. For example, when an employee in a call centre takes an enquiry or a branch employee has an in-person interaction that needs to be followed-up, how do banks make sure this is done as seamlessly as possible?

If a ticket is created that end up in someone’s inbox alerting them they need to contact the customer, banks need to make sure this info gets to the right person and is acted on quickly. Every time someone new gets involved in an interaction, this creates complexity and more potential points of failure that can annoy customers, and crucially lose revenue.

Giving customers the options they want

For example, the author recently attended a local bank branch to make a check deposit, and while there, the member of staff correctly identified a need for an investment review, setting up a later appointment to discuss other products. I received text and phone reminders – solid banking practice – but when I had to postpone and rearrange, there ensued a clunky process involving separate calls from people in various unnamed branches trying to find a new appointment time, in a different location.

All in all, a very disjointed experience caused because the bank didn’t have full visibility of its customer or its team members, with an uncertain end which resulted in no new appointment being offered, and a product sale lost. A differentiated experience here would have been achieved a better outcome just by making use of existing scheduling and workflow technology that has been around for ten years – or more crucially, solid management within the FI of its staff.

This is the sort of issue that won’t necessarily be solved by a flashy digital banking solution – it’s about ensuring that everyone involved can communicate easily with each other and deliver a coherent, reliable service that works consistently across all channels.

At the end of the day, consumers won’t be impressed by any smart mobile apps or digital experiences if they feel the people behind them don’t understand their needs. A good customer experience strategy needs to get the simple stuff right – and this starts with the people interacting with the consumer. Whether in-branch, on the phone or via the internet, making sure that staff have the basic tools and information they need to do a good job with their customers.


Image: iStock/YinYang

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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