Fully Wired Branch | By Brent Biernat
Physical branches certainly don’t serve the same level of traffic they once did, but we find that the branch is far from dead. Why?
Older accountholders have yet to embrace the new banking channels and have doubts about their safety. Our younger accountholders are finding that mobile and Internet banking can’t entirely replace the in-person experience. To put it bluntly, Siri doesn’t know which account best meets your customers’ needs.
There’s a common thread to both young and old accountholders – neither group seems to know the full range of services offered by banks and credit unions. What a terrific opportunity to train them!
The bottom line? Your physical branches are still part of your service mix. Many institutions are adapting their branches to the reduced volume of check-based services (cashing checks, depositing checks, etc.) and the increased need to consult with accountholders and to train them in new services and technologies.
New branches tend to be smaller, use fewer staff members and focus on cross-selling. Appropriate technologies can help deliver greater value to your accountholders while freshening your brand and strengthening your bottom line. Here are a few technologies to consider:
These all-in-one devices can help you project a clean, modern image, similar to the Apple Store. Tablets can replace workstations, pamphlets, even signature pads. If your institution provides video conferencing to experts at the main office, the tablet can serve as a video conferencing terminal.
One note – there are lots of tablet options beyond the iPad – some for as little as $250. So don’t let the price of tablets derail your branch of the future strategies.
Large Touch Screen & Kiosks
Size matters, especially when you are trying to attract attention to your branch and brand. Large screens are also helpful for customers or members who prefer to serve themselves with a banking expert close by. Some institutions use large screens through their store front windows to show prospective accountholders that this institution is relevant and connected. They’re great training tools, too!
Personal Teller or Video ATM
These sophisticated ATMs are almost like having a human teller, because they are really a remote device for human tellers. This extends the reach of your physical branch, offering ID verification, digital signature capture and video conferencing to greatly enhance the interaction and capabilities for the customer or member. Integration options are still developing, so work closely with your vendor.
If anything characterizes a branch of the future, it’s cash recyclers. These machines remove the barriers between the customer and the teller. They can be deployed in the open and are rarely more than waist high. Staff can use them to process standard banking transactions without worrying about security.
Equipment manufacturers have a full pipeline of devices designed to improve the banking experience. Google Glass will enable staff to keep their eyes on the person while calling up account details. Natural Voice and Face Recognition systems will enable the branch itself to respond to an accountholder’s profile without a card swipe or a teller transaction. Imagine the “next best product” appearing on the large screen beside the customer/member within seconds of entering the branch! Key your ATM transaction into your cell phone, then receive a QR code to activate that transaction on the ATM.
Brent Biernat is first vice president of network services at COCC Inc.