Branch Transformation - What Is It?
‘Branch Transformation’ encompasses many aspects and means different things to different people. Some may consider a beautiful new branch design in a bright, airy, inviting, colourful space. Others imagine improving the branch experience from the ground up. How does a customer feel before they enter a branch? What are their experiences in the branch and how do they perceive the customer service once they’ve left?
From the perspective of high street banks, how can they reduce costs? What will allow them to extend service accessibility? How are they engaging services and driving sustainable growth? A customer should be able to bank whenever they wish, with 24-hour service availability. They should be able to pay in or withdraw cash, deposit a cheque, open a new service and provide proof of identity, all via the latest self-service innovations available in the UK right now.
The design of the branch is viewed as an extension of the wider branding and should be seen as an opportunity to deliver key messages. Is the brand informal, futuristic, traditional, or a combination of all three? Does the bank wish to convey messages or a ‘story’ of the history of their branch? Is there a defined route to take when a customer enters the branch? Is the signage clear and concise?
The location strategy is also key. Now technology is so advanced, branches are no longer restricted to traditional locations. From a shiny giant ‘flagship’ open-format, to a portacabin-sized location in a remote area with full banking functionality, anything and everything is possible.
In 2019, we have the ability to completely change the customer experience by providing seamless integration of mobile/internet banking and the branch. A customer who has started their loan application online may need some support, and can head to the branch. They can be identified upon entry, whether they are expected or not. From the branch perspective, the staff will know who has entered the branch, and they will have access to their customer profile. They will then be ready to help that customer before even saying ‘hello’. They should easily be able to follow up on visits and events by tracking customer movements and paperless transactions. There are various nuts and bolts to these implementations that are often overlooked or siloed, missing key opportunities to create a seamless experience, and, ultimately, save costs.
As a minimum, banks should have their cash management processes fully integrated at both software and hardware levels. Any points of entry for cash - whether; CIT, over-counter or customer deposit in self-service, should automatically bring that cash into the branch ecosystem. This gives flexibility to provide fitness-sorted cash on demand throughout the branch and the efficient removal of non-fit cash from circulation. Long gone are the days where it is still necessary to keep ATM cash separate from the teller and the back office. Banks should be empowered to remotely manage branch cash levels and automate cash management. Staff should not be burdened with having to manually handle, count and secure cash. This would mean they can focus on the real value-add services; advising on loans, insurance, mortgages while delivering first-class customer service. Branches should no longer have to pay for perfectly good cash to be collected and new notes to be delivered, sometimes in the same day and to different locations within the same branch.
The ‘Machines of the future’ which fall in line with ‘Branch Transformation solutions’ will perform many tasks currently performed by retail banking staff. Deploying more of these machines will help give staff more time to engage with customers and offer the personal touch.
Often when a business offers a ‘cloud-based’ service, particularly in the payments industry, it means a legacy monolithic application in a traditionally hosted service; a model that does not offer the real benefits of cloud technology.
A solution is to use state-of-the-art cloud technology and tools that inherit all the real benefits of cloud architecture; lower costs, better security, elastic scalability, agility, portability, and high availability of service, none of which are truly achievable with monolithic alternatives.
These reliable solutions will enhance operations for the future branches, creating an altogether immersive customer journey.
When a bank believes in a ground-up approach to real Branch Transformation, optimising its hardware and software, freeing up tellers to engage with customers, staying open for longer, whilst looking inviting and oozing innovation, this is the future of banking…This is Branch Transformation.