The Customer Effect

3 things banks can do to move more customers out of the branch

  • Mobile banking reduces costs and improves user satisfaction.
  • But mobile banking adoption has seriously slowed down.
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Mobile banking growth is leveling off. Many early adopters are already comfortable using their smartphones to take care of simple banking activities. Nearly six in 10 banking customers prefer to use digital, according to a Gallup study.

But as mobile banking adoption rates show, a significant part of the population still tends to favor dropping by their local branches.

That’s a challenge for banks who want to funnel more users to digital channels, which have drastically lower costs and higher satisfaction ratings. It’s going to take time to migrate more people out of branches. There are a variety of activities banks are engaged in to do just that and help a broader range of customers embrace digital, self service channels.

Use more in-branch kiosks

The automated teller machine is a key node in the march toward getting customers transacting on their own. Banks rely on ATMs to help customers help themselves and financial institutions are upgrading and expanding their networks. Local branches continue to get shuttered and are being replaced with more machines.

ATMs aren’t a complete godsend. There are still teller activities that they can’t replace. Customers frequently approach tellers for assistance with cutting cashier’s checks or withdrawing cash in specific denominations, for example.

Source Technologies’ Personal Teller Machine can handle these types of transactions. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company has a 30 year old history of providing check printing technology to financial institutions. As personal checks are being phased out, the company looked for other opportunities with self service technologies. Source’s new machine, which has a footprint of just one square foot and a 21 inch screen, is designed to help banking staff move people out of line to perform self-service inside the branch.

“These aren’t ATMs. They don’t run on ATM rails — they integrate directly to a bank’s core platform,” said Suzi McNicholas, Source Technologies’ vice president of marketing. “Think of it like the grocery self-checkout model. If you have one or two items, you do it yourself. If you have a cart full of things, you go to the cashier. If you’re walking into a bank branch for a cashier’s check, you can use the self-service device. If you’re a merchant customer and need more service, you’re going to want to see a banker.”

The company signed a distribution deal with CO-OP, a technology firm that runs Shared Banking, a national network of credit unions that share facilities to give members thousands of locations to perform financial transactions. It plans to roll out the Personal Teller Machine in 2017 and 2018.

Adopt mobile video banking

Getting customers to try mobile banking is just the first step. Most mobile experiences are still subpar, turning off users who want something that works as well as online and telephonic banking.

One of the challenges of moving people to mobile is how to provide assistance if they do need more help when technology proves to be limiting. Mobile video banking is a good example of human-assisted technology. According to a recent survey, 93 percent of banking providers in 52 different countries think customer satisfaction would improve if a high-quality video banking service for mobile devices were to be implemented.

“This is good news for consumers,” Financial Town‘s Gene Pranger explained during a video chat on his firm’s BankOn app. “Now bank service staff can appear and resolve problems at a customer’s moment of need. That’s also great if you’re a sales guy at a bank and want to react and close quickly.”

BankOn’s media exchange within the app really makes it different that using Skype or FaceTime. For example, a teller working with a customer on a mortgage application can push a signature panel through to be signed by the user directly within the app. Customers can open up new accounts, sign documents, scan identification documents, and apply for loans directly through the BankOn app as they’re chatting with a teller.

Design better digital experiences

Digital banking still has a long way to go in terms of hitting customer expectations. When the experience is good, older users tend to rate their satisfaction even higher than younger ones. It’s just not happening enough, though, to entice the large swath of people who use their branches to switch to digital channels.

This isn’t just about getting better acquiring new digital customers — it’s about convincing them to stay and adopt the channel. There are a variety of technology and service firms working in this area. Banks like ABN AMRO use Backbase‘s omnichannel banking platform to streamline the customer experience across all devices. Personetics uses AI to preemptively service customers, personalizing their experience with their financial providers. Glassbox Digital provides customer experience analytics to help financial institutions cross the divide between offline and online with more engaging journeys for their customers.

Mobile banking can lower costs and improve outcomes. It’s a challenge to get banking customers using self service when it’s still easier and more convenient to enter into a bank branch. If banks use technologies that help bridge the online and offline world, they’ll continue to help migrate users over to other channels outside of company-owned real estate.

 

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