By Gene Pranger, CEO of POPin Video Banking Collaboration
21 Reasons Why Financial Institutions Need Mobile Video On Their Side Banking is definitely becoming more digital, but that doesn’t mean it has to become less human.
Around the world, time-starved consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels. Branch visits in the UK, for example, continue to decline as the average consumer makes only five visits per year.[i] Meanwhile, on the digital side, banking apps recorded a 13 percent increase in log-ins last year, reaching a whopping 5.5 billion.[ii]
Trailblazing financial institutions are responding to these dramatic shifts in consumer behavior by offering cutting edge solutions. Mobile video banking, in particular, allows consumers to interact with banking experts via personal devices at their convenience, while maximizing resources and resolving many major branch limitations for financial institutions. Today, four out of five bank and credit unions either already offer or plan to offer video banking.[iii]Through this technology, banks and credit unions can not only serve larger geographical territories at lower costs, but vastly improve the customer experience.
Benefits even appear to be more robust than originally thought. Credit unions in the U.S. already partnered with POPin VIdeo Banking Collaboration, the industry’s first interactive video solution, report higher close rates on loans, surprisingly high usage among the elderly, increased access to multilingual personnel, and reduced stress for busy customers and employees alike.
“If you don’t have a strong digital and mobile strategy, I don’t know if you’re going to be around,” says Lisa Huertas, Chief eXperience Officer at Texas Tech Federal Credit Union, which adopted POPin last year.“I don’t say that to be a doomsday person. Right now, today, you’ve got to be building those bridges between the physical and digital experience.”
Mobile Video’s Expected & Verified Strategic Benefits
When first developing the concept of mobile video banking,POPin knew there were logical and strategic reasons why human interaction over digital channels made perfect sense. But as the numbers and success stories rolled in from real-world client case studies, one thing became clear—mobile video is literally changing the face of banking.
Consider some of the expected and verified strategic benefits of mobile video banking:
- Maximized Human Resources: By consolidating employees into a centralized video call center environment, financial institutions can make their best and brightest employees available to more members, regardless of their physical locations.
In fact, South Bay Credit Union in Los Angeles, California, has found that members using its mobile video app often develop such a strong bond with their employees that they request to speak with their favorite representatives.
- Lowered Costs: The U.S. banking industry closed 1,700 branches in the 12 months ending last June, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.[iv] This represented the largest one-year decrease ever. Consulting firm PwC went on to project the number of bank branches in the U.S. will shrink 20 percent by 2020.[v]
Following this trend, Texas-based Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union managed to slash operating costs by closing its brick-and-mortar branch in Houston, even as it continued to grow and serve members in that area through a new digital branch powered by mobile video banking.
“Since they’re not able to walk into the branch, we don’t have a big physical footprint,” says Luke Campbell, Southwest Financial’s Vice President of Sales and Service. “But we feel that our digital footprint is huge and there are no limits to what we can do with that.”
- Enhanced Retail Geography: Brick-and-mortar branches continue to lose cachet with customers, now ranking as only the third most important consideration when choosing a financial institution (behind online/mobile banking and no ATM foreign fees).[vi]Historically, branch location was the primary driver of perceived convenience, so its fall to No. 3 on the list of customer priorities indicates how dramatically expectations are shifting.
Southwest Financial took notice of this trend as well. The credit union covers a vast territory across Texas and Louisiana with just one physical branch in Dallas, making the strategic business decision to expand its coverage area by increasing its digital footprint while shrinking its physical footprint.
- Connection with Younger Generations: While a broad range of demographics use mobile technology, financial institutions are reporting surging adoption by younger generations. In fact, Federal Reserve Board research shows more than two-thirds of millennials are already using mobile banking.[vii]
As these rising generations become comfortable video chatting their friends, parents, college professors, etc., it’s natural for them to prefer to communicate with financial advisors via mobile video as well, whether to ask a quick question or apply for a more complex car loan.
- Greater Convenience: Standard hours won’t cut it for today’s consumers. Convenience is king, especially when it comes to financial services. With mobile video, financial institutions can offer extraordinary opportunities for engagement at customers’ convenience to win their loyalty and trust.
Take, for example, Pioneer Federal Credit Union of Mountain Home, Idaho, which was able to significantly extend its hours with the help of its mobile video banking app. Pioneer now fields video calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, enabling members to change PINs, transfer money and more at their convenience.
- Attraction of New Customers: Self-service has its perks, but abandonment rates for online banking applications are at an all-time high of 97.5 percent.
Through a collaborative video banking platform like POPin, financial institutions can chat with customers and collect everything they need to open a new account in one sitting, including photo IDs, signatures and more. Such capabilities are transformative for the banking industry, as customers no longer have to visit a branch to set up an account—which is especially beneficial for attracting new customers and Select Employee Group (SEG) customers who choose financial institutions through their employers but don’t live close to a branch.
- Remote Services: Financial institutions can service almost any customer request over mobile video except for dispensing cash—and even that capability may be possible in the near future.
Customers can check account balances, sign documents, and report lost or stolen cards, even when they are working overseas or on vacation in another state. Added conveniences like these are why 93 percent of bankers believe interactive video technology increases consumer satisfaction,according to Efma research.[viii]
- Multilingual Access: AfterPioneer Federal Credit Union’s adoption of POPin, staff quickly discovered they could refer Spanish-speaking members to the video call center for immediate assistance when no multilingual branch representative was on duty.
The ability to provide multilingual support on an anywhere, anytime basis offers a huge logistical advantage for staffing and scheduling. Within the European Union, there are 23 officially recognized languages and more than 60 indigenous regional and minority languages.[ix] Even a sizable segment of the U.S. population—21 percent, or roughly 61 million people—speak a language other than English (with Spanish topping that list at about 38 million).[x]
- Brand Differentiation: In most markets, a myriad of financial options compete for customers, all providing similar products. Whether you’ll stand out usually boils down to customer experience. According to The Financial Brand, the No. 1 benefit cited by banks and credit unions offering video banking solutions was positioning their institution as innovative.[xi]
Texas Tech Federal Credit Union in Lubbock, Texas, is differentiating itself in the minds of its young customer base by adding mobile video banking to its digital suite, prompting local media to proclaim this innovative credit union “breaks the mold when it comes to banking.” South Bay Credit Union is also setting itself apart in the crowded Los Angeles market by providing a video service that maintains the personal touch of face-to-face interaction and allows members to do their banking from home (and avoid nightmarish traffic).
- Standardized Workflow: Maintaining a standardized workflow ensures every customer receives the same experience. A robust video banking platform allows financial institutions to develop and customize these workflows across product lines to best support representatives in providing superior service to customers.
- Streamlined Digital Collection of Documents: With a patented platform like POPin, within these standardized workflows financial institutions have the ability to collect and store all customer conversations and documents in a single location. The entire digital interaction (video, chat and voice) can be recorded and stored for future feedback.
“[The employee] is getting a loan signed right then and there, where in the past we were faxing it to the member and they were faxing it back and there is a lot that can go wrong,” says Southwest Financial’s Luke Campbell.
- Inclusive Experience: During due diligence phases, representatives often need to collect signatures from multiple parties (e.g., husband and wife, or son/daughter and parent). A collaborative mobile video banking app can easily obtain signatures from multiple individuals, whether during the live video chat by connecting another call into the conversation or offline at a time more convenient for the second individual.
- Collaboration vs. FaceTime: Skype, FaceTime and Cisco have mastered the art of face-to-face communication that has brought video exchanges into the mainstream. As a result, far and wide, millennials and rising generations are using video-based platforms as their preferred method of communication.
In the world of commerce, however, bare-bones video chat isn’t sufficient to transact business. Consumers need to exchange information, documents and signatures both in real-time and off-line, completing entire applications and processes while working with representatives—just as they would in person.
When asked what the Pioneer Federal Credit Union team misses via mobile video banking, Vice President of Operations Tracey Miller declared, “There is nothing we can’t do short of dispensing cash … [The experience is] just as they were meeting face to face inside a branch.”
Mobile Video’s Unexpected & Surprising Operational Benefits
As POPin beta-tested its platform with a dozen financial institutions, client feedback was used to adjust and fine-tune the technology to create a financial-centric solution for banks, credit unions and their customers. Findings conclusively determined that mobile video delivers the expected strategic results. But in addition to these anticipated advantages, several unexpected operational benefits arose as well.
- Loan Retention: Before Southwest Financial implemented mobile video banking, loan applicants often forgot to email, or fax required documents, leaving a frustrating pile of abandoned applications. The credit union now reports significantly reduced loan loss by improving its loan officers’ ability to capture necessary documents while in video calls to complete these transactions.
“I want to unplug the fax machine,” says Southwest Financial’s Luke Campbell. “I don’t want to use it anymore. … Having [the ability to get a] guaranteed signature has been the benefit. Our employees are saying their loan numbers go up because they’re not losing loans anymore.”
- Fraud Verification: Customers suspecting fraud on their accounts don’t have time to drive to a branch to resolve the issue—they need immediate assistance. With mobile video banking, help is just a click away via members’ smartphones and tablets. Conducting the call over video also adds an additional element of security, as employees can verify they are speaking to account holders through visual identification.
Jennifer Oliver, President and CEO at South Bay Credit Union, says her employees use their video banking platform to verify wire transfers rather than over the phone or making the customer visit the branch. “That was an unexpected benefit of deploying this type of platform,” she says, noting that it resolves a growing business problem nearly all financial institutions experience.
- Adopted by All Demographics: Initially, many banking executives assumed millennials would be quick to adopt mobile video banking because of their familiarity with communication technologies such as FaceTime—and that assumption has proven true. However, many financial institutions have been surprised to discover all customer demographics use mobile video for the convenience it provides.
Elderly members with limited mobility often prefer to conduct their banking over a video connection from home. This option saves them from needing to request or arrange transportation to a physical branch. As previously mentioned, Spanish-speaking members appreciate the opportunity to communicate face to face with a teller in their own language. Mothers of young children also appreciate being able to use a video app rather than transport their kids to the branch. And military members can now stay connected to trusted faces in their hometown even when they are deployed overseas.
- Reduction in Physical Branch Hours: Financial institutions can save costs by closing during slow branch times without inconveniencing customers. It’s easy to refer members who need assistance during those hours to the video call center.
“We use POPin Video Banking to replace our Saturday hours,” says Jennifer Oliver of South Bay Credit Union.
- Maintained Relationships with Relocated Customers: According to the U.S. Census, between 2013 and 2014, one in nine people moved residences.[xii] Of those, 9.7 percent moved due to job transfers.
Losing customers and accounts due to job transfers used to feel unavoidable. In the past, members simply felt they couldn’t take their financial institution with them when they moved too far away from a branch. That’s no longer the case—according to Southwest Financial, the credit union can now service all Kroger (SEG) employees no matter their geographic location or where they may relocate in the future.
- Unplugging Antiquated Technology (Fax Machines): When I first started my professional career, fax machines were a wonder of efficiency. They were quick, convenient, and inexpensive. A fax was the expected standard in delivering written communication at the speed of an “analog data connection.”
Fast forward to 2018, and fax machines are rarely used. The vast majority of millennials don’t even know how to send a fax.As one popular blogger observed, “As a millennial myself, I think I have only ever used a fax machine once (and that was to send something to my father).”[xiii]
Luke Campbell at Southwest Financial said it best when he stated his goal to unplug all the fax machines in his organization. There is simply no need to have antiquated technology in the branch when the process can be simplified and streamlined through a digital platform.
- Integrations NOT Necessary: Aside from a backlog of projects as a barrier to implementing new programs, the second reason financial institutions give for delaying or killing new projects generally involves integrations with existing providers and platforms. However, those adopting mobile video banking report no integration is required to get started and is even unnecessary as they roll out the solution in tandem with other providers.
Some banking executives wonder whether their customers who already use their digital banking apps will also download and use a standalone mobile video app. Financial institutions that have implemented this new technology have indicated that standalone video apps do not create barriers or confusion and therefore do not hurt customer adoption.
- Customer Response—The WOW Factor: Pioneer Federal Credit Union recently passed the 1,000 call threshold since releasing their my Pioneer Personal Assistant APP. Its numbers continue to climb week after week, providing the strongest evidence yet of widespread adoption as customers recognize the convenience it brings.
Jennifer Oliver of South Bay Credit Union says early users of mobile video banking are thrilled, and she expects usage to continue to climb. “Right now it’s a wow factor,” she says. “People think it’s cool. Down the road, I think they’ll start to think of video first rather than getting in the car and driving to us. And when that happens, that’s when we’re super-convenient.”
Without a targeted approach to building out the digital branch, consumers expectations might not get met—and they’ll start to look elsewhere. A 2018 study of more than 1,600 digital banking users revealed that 68 percent of Americans who have used digital banking in the past year have been frustrated by their experience. And a full one-third are willing to switch financial institutions for a better digital experience.[xiv]
Mobile video can easily provide the wow factor they’re looking for.
Consumers Want Time-Saving Technologies
Busy consumers are searching for time-saving technologies in all areas of their lives. Banking is no exception. This dramatic shift in consumer behavior is driving adoption of digital banking like never before. Mobile video is the missing piece for many financial institutions that will allow them to bridge the gap between declining brick-and-mortar branches and rapidly rising digital and mobile apps. In fact, mobile video banking has been proven to increase the adoption of self-serve options because it enables customers to find quick answers to technical questions.
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance evenless” seems to be a mantra of the modern era.[xv]As customers’ expectations change, financial institutions can harness the power of digital technologies to meet their needs. Two-thirds of banks and credit unions now anticipate offering both in-store video systems and mobile video platforms in the near future, according to a 2018 study of financial services professionals.[xvi]As more enhance their digital branches with mobile video capabilities, a growing number of customers will demand access to this technology—and the convenience it brings.
[xi] “The State of Video Banking 2018: Trends, Stats & Facts”: The Financial Brand, Lisa Joyce, May 30, 2018. (https://thefinancialbrand.com/72684/video-banking-interactive-chat-trends/)
[xii] U.S. Mover Rate: U.S. Census Bureau, March 18, 2015. (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-47.html)
[xiii] “Millennials Don’t Know How to Use Fax Machines”: SmartTech.com, Brittany Wickerson, Nov. 21, 2014. (http://nextlevelblog.smarttech.com/2014/11/millennials-dont-know-how-to-use-fax-machines-and-other-insights-from-future-of-works-jacob-morgan/)
[xiv] “D3 Banking Technology Survey Finds More than Two-Thirds of American Digital Banking Users are Frustrated with Experience.” BusinessWire, February 14, 2018. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180214005136/en/D3-Banking-)Technology-Survey-Finds-Two-Thirds-American
[xvi] “The State of Video Banking 2018: Trends, Stats & Facts”: The Financial Brand, Lisa Joyce, May 30, 2018. (https://thefinancialbrand.com/72684/video-banking-interactive-chat-trends/)
The future of offshore banking
By Granville Turner, Director at Turner Little.
Despite its misconceptions, the popularity of offshore banking is growing. Not only is it a perfectly legal way of holding your money, but with the right professional advice, it is also reassuringly simple to open an account.
This ease-of-use is prompting many offshore banks to change their offering to compete and make overseas banking even more accessible. No longer is it limited to just the super-rich.
So, what does the future look like for offshore banks? We’ve compiled a list of the top fundamental changes happening in the realm of offshore banking.
Catering to niche markets is the future
Rather than managing account holder’s money in general, offshore banks are tapping into how they can best serve different demographics. Essentially, it is about taking a more bespoke approach to managing money at various stages of life.
But catering to a variety of markets doesn’t just stop there. Many overseas banks are now accepting crypto as a form of currency to appeal to digital, tech-savvy generations.
Cryptocurrency is also attractive for those who see the security benefits it can offer.
Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past
As banks move away from paper in favour of digital, security is on everyone’s minds. This is because information is an important asset to many businesses, so protecting it is vital. As such, banks are securing data with the most vigorous encryption security standards.
For account holders, this means digital bank transfers and communication become less of a risk and the smarter thing to do. Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past.
Instant access, day or night
In today’s digital world, you don’t need to travel overseas to open an offshore bank account; everything can be done online or over the phone. And like most UK standard current accounts, many offshore accounts now offer online and mobile banking features. So account holders can manage their offshore finances and investments while transferring funds with ease.
Offshore banks are following the same route of challenging onshore banks by going branchless. This offers substantial benefits for account holders, as branchless offshore banks don’t pass on as much overhead costs to the customer. Ultimately, this means customers can earn better interest rates and other returns on their investments.
Happy to help
At Turner Little, we work closely with offshore banks to provide you with quality service tailored to your needs. With over 20 years of international banking experience and specialist expert knowledge, we will assist you with your enquiries, no matter how complex. And every account we arrange comes with internet banking, card facilities and the ability to transact internationally.
Hong Kong’s First Multi-Cloud Challenger Bank Goes Live with Temenos
- WeLab Bank designed, built and launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact in less than 10 months
- WeLab offers next generational digital services for the 7.5m people in Hong Kong to access from their mobile phones
- Customers can open accounts remotely in just 5 minutes with bank reporting 10,000 account openings within 10 days of launch
Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, today announced that WeLab Bank, Hong Kong’s first homegrown virtual bank, has publicly launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact to provide a range of next generation digital services for customers to enjoy 24/7 from their mobile phones. Designed, built and launched in less than 10 months, the fully digital bank has seen rapid take up with a reported 10,000 account openings within the first 10 days of launch.
WeLab Bank is powered by cloud agnostic Temenos Transact for core banking along with Temenos Analytics and Financial Crime Mitigation. Implemented on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, WeLab is the first multi cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Operating on multiple clouds at the same time gives WeLab increased operational resilience and disaster recovery capability and is a regulatory requirement of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for new digital banks. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 2020 report for Temenos, 81% of global banking executives surveyed believe a multi-cloud strategy will become a regulatory prerequisite.
Developing a cost-effective and scalable core banking solution was paramount for WeLab. Temenos cloud native software is built for the digital age using API-first and DevOps principles and engineered to deploy in containers and microservices. This makes it easy for WeLab to scale for future business growth efficiently and eliminates the need to provision for peak processing volumes so that the bank only pays for its actual usage, yielding significant cost savings.
Critically, with NuoDB the solution delivers a cloud-agnostic, distributed relational database that enables WeLab to deploy an active-active on-demand database across multiple cloud providers with near zero downtime failover.
Temenos Transact is a preconfigured system and so requires very little coding and with Temenos model bank to address local practices and regulations, WeLab was able to bring its service to market faster and extend its innovation with more than 400 out-of-the-box APIs.
With Temenos, WeLab bank is set to transform banking in Hong Kong. In as fast as 5 minutes, customers can remotely open a WeLab Bank account with $0 monthly fees and start enjoying differentiated services such as time deposits with competitive rates, an interest-bearing deposit account with an instant virtual Debit Card, and real-time payments powered by Faster Payment System (FPS). Everything can be done on a mobile phone, simply and effortlessly.
Adrian Tse, CEO at WeLab Bank, commented: “WeLab Bank was born from an initiative to reimagine the banking experience for the 7.5 million people of Hong Kong. From the start, we knew this vision needed the most advanced cloud native technology and a partner that shared our vision for digital transformation. With Temenos we have efficiently built WeLab Bank from scratch, free from any legacies, with innovative features that proactively help customers to take control of their money and their financial journey.”
Max Chuard, Chief Executive Officer, Temenos, said: “Congratulations to WeLab Bank on the launch of their trailblazing new digital bank. Building and launching a licensed bank in such a rapid timeframe is a fantastic achievement and we are proud to have supported them in becoming the first multi-cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Temenos cloud-native, cloud-agnostic strategy means we can satisfy the needs of the most innovative and ambitious neobanks like WeLab Bank to run on multiple cloud providers. We know this is just the beginning for WeLab and we are excited to be part of their story as they revolutionize banking for people in Hong Kong.”
Bob Walmsley, CEO of NuoDB said: “We are excited to be partnering with Temenos to help WeLab Bank achieve their aggressive launch timelines and deliver innovative banking services to its customers. We were inspired by the technical vision of WeLab and knew that executing an on-demand, multi-cloud strategy was a perfect fit for NuoDB. Our enterprise-class, distributed SQL database combined with Temenos’ cloud-native technology helps banks of all sizes around the globe migrate to the cloud to improve agility and reduce costs.”
The Bank is Where the Heart Is
By Nick Barnes, Practice Director, Financial Services & Customer Success at JRNI
When unexpected events occur, people turn to their banks to provide a sense of trust, security, and stability. They need to be available anywhere, anytime, and from any device. As it’s a business based on trust, one-on-one communication is key.
With the world still emerging from the COVID-19 crisis and endeavouring to avert a possible second wave, every country, state, and region has their own unique requirements. Plus, every customer or member has their own demands. Experts and pundits have discussed a new normal, but what’s normal for now involves keeping customers and employees safe while also providing the same sense of stability as before.
For banks, building societies and credit unions, the main concerns include how to maintain personal relationships amidst social distancing; how to be available at any time on any device; and how to provide a sense of calm and security amidst the chaos.
Adapt or fall behind
Customers are quickly learning which of their service providers are adapting best to this new world. Are financial services providers like banks and credit unions adapting, or falling behind?
Finances are a highly personal topic, and often, illogical or emotional. Will I have enough? Will it be available when I need it? It is always a hot topic of conversation, but especially during a pandemic when unemployment rates are rising, and the economic landscape is unsettled. In the past, a customer could walk into the bank, have a reassuring conversation with a representative and move on.
So, how can banks help their customers through tough financial times during the current crisis, when in-person communication is nearly impossible? One solution is to provide helpful, personalized customer service through digital channels.
While in-person assistance will remain important after COVID-19, customers are looking for assistance now. Banks are turning to remote video and voice appointments to boost customer satisfaction and meet customer expectations.
3 reasons to use remote appointments
1. To comply with social distancing
Our Modern Consumer Banking Report last year showed that when consumers visit branches, it’s primarily to talk face-to-face and ask questions/get help. Research from Bain reinforces this, and emphasizes that “many retail banking customers think it’s easier to purchase through a human channel, or prefer to speak with an employee before buying a product.”
Due to social distancing measures, branches cannot be customers’ primary way of managing their finances during this pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that customers aren’t interested in personalized attention that can be made available via video and voice.
2. To meet new demand
Although spending habits may have changed, consumers are still making critical financial decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Individuals: The financial effects of coronavirus are drastically different from one customer to the next. While some are counting down the days to receipt of their unemployment check, others may be taking advantage of low-interest rates to buy a house. Ultimately, banks and credit unions need to address each customer segment with a unique message and way of providing assistance.
Small business banking: Countless small businesses around the world have been forced to close their doors. Whether they’re needing loans, payment deferrals, or advice, small businesses are looking to their bank as a guide, and a comfort.
Investment management: A recession is upon us, and with that comes a new approach to investing. Financial advisors are fielding questions, providing recommendations, and staying up to date on the market. Beyond this, many are building entirely new strategies for their clients.
Regardless of customer type, it’s clear that each subset of customer needs help from their financial institution at this time.
3. To boost customer retention
Financial institutions cannot afford to lose customers during the pandemic, so customer retention is crucial. Great customer service boosts customer loyalty, and research from Bain shows that loyalty is key to retention:
- Customer loyalty increases revenue, and loyal customers are less likely to switch to a competing bank.
- Customers who are a bank’s “promoters” recommend the bank to others as much as six times more than “detractors.”
- A bank’s “promoters” spend one-quarter more than detractors on their primary credit card.
Ultimately, being able to connect with a customer in need using video or voice can give customers peace of mind and boost loyalty. Delivering personalized financial services without interruption is crucial.
Initial results from video banking show that consumers consider the service valuable. Phoenix Synergistics’ survey from December 2019 found that 17% of customers polled had used video chat through a website or app with their financial institution. Of those that had used video chat, 89% found video chat valuable.
Some suggestions for banks using remote video or voice appointments would be to: firstly ensure your solution is secure and doesn’t expose personal information outside of the conversation; secondly create a culture of consultation to alleviate outstanding fears; thirdly leverage appointment setting to allow customers to pre-schedule consultations and enquiries; finally include remote appointments as part of a wider suite of ‘touchless’ offerings.
The dos and don’ts for bank branches
Forty-three percent of banking customers have expressed their desire to change the way they bank due to the pandemic. As with retail and hospitality, several key customer segments have doubts about visiting physical locations and are transacting more remotely.
The challenge for banks is to make services available wherever customers want to bank – be it by phone, online, or in branch – and when it comes to any transaction, the key is to make customers feel cared for, heard, and secure.
With social distancing parameters in place along with other health and safety measures, there’s significant focus on the need to retool the branch experience. Here are a few suggestions as we move into that next stage of business and interaction:
DO: Have a plan.
Think about how customers will enter and exit each location. Plan for increased space between people in line, how to attend to at-risk customers, properly spaced lobbies, and waiting areas. Consider your employees and what they need in order to stay safe including break rooms with increased space between lounging areas, removal of shared snacks, availability of hand sanitizer and masks.
DO: Make sure you can effectively manage footfall.
Overcrowding will create fear and loss of trust. Make sure you have plenty of directional signage, crowd control measures, and staffing. Solutions including people counters, occupancy managers, and pre-booked appointments both allow for the throttling of traffic, and the ability to build in cleaning time.
DO: Hire the right team and staff adequately.
Being courteous and in control will be the most important ingredient to success. Have enough staff, you will need the extra hands to ensure that all staff is properly trained and ready to enforce new protocols.
Some customers will be understandably anxious going into branches, and some will want to feel that everything has returned to normal, so staff may need to be very firm and well-versed in a new operating style.
DO: Offer customers the ability to bank when and how they prefer.
We’re not suggesting that you remain open for 24 hours, but the goal is to make it easy for the customer. Adding the ability to set an appointment with a wealth manager or an advisor online will enable customers to bank from home, and will enable banks to provide the personalized service customers have come to expect.
Leverage online appointment confirmations to remind customers to have key documents available if they need them. Virtual solutions position the bank to serve as an advisor rather than just a financial institution.
DO: Demonstrate your commitment to a safe environment.
Use clear signage to convey the measures in place to ensure customer and employee safety. Make hand sanitizer or wipes available throughout the branch, and in all high-touch areas. Ensure cleaning supplies are visible, around doorways and near greeters to provide customers with an added sense of security. And make sure that employees are following every measure required of customers.
DON’T: Lose customer confidence.
If you are not prepared, it will show, and it will be very hard to gain back customer confidence once compromised. Social media will not be your friend. Forrester Research reports that 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that demonstrate how they are protecting customers against the threats of COVID-19.
DON’T: Overcrowd or fill your branch to capacity.
Consumers are being trained to avoid crowds, so failure at the branch to comply could result in losing their business. Most physical locations are operating with fewer staff and accommodating 10 – 25% of the traffic once allowed. Keep in mind that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression on customers, and they’re looking to trust you have their best interests in mind.
You will need to expect the unexpected and having more hands-on deck will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Having the wrong staff, or those that don’t take the time to learn new operating procedures or feel comfortable telling that customer who won’t keep a mask on, may not be the best fit.
DON’T: Make it difficult for customers to do business with you.
Social distancing introduces a number of disruptions to the way you’ve traditionally done business. So limiting options to customers – providing no ability to bank online or via phone, not having a live customer service voice or chat option – is not going to help. In addition to making sure the services are available, it is imperative to communicate all options to customers.
DON’T: Assume someone else will do it.
Bank staff need to show that the branch is being tended to, cleaned between visitors, and before opening each day. It is important that staff jump in to help move customers safely through the branch, ensure their questions are answered and overall, take a proactive approach to service without assuming that a sign or another staff member will take care of it. Customers will come to the branch, but gaining their confidence is everything. Don’t lose it by not being prepared. It will be very hard to win it back.
With the constant threat new restrictions in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, banks will need to take a long view on how they enable the operational flexibility that will be needed to adapt to fast-changing conditions. As people prepare to live more risk-averse lives, banks will need to go the extra mile to ensure customers feel less wary about visiting in person whilst also offering a seamless experience for those customers who prefer to remain in the safety of their homes. Those that manage to do so will emerge from the crisis with a sustainable advantage over their competitors.
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By Jim Preston, VP EMEA, Showpad In 2004, the Leading Edge Forum coined the term ‘consumerisation of IT’, defining a...
Leading from the front – why decision makers must embrace automation
By Jeppe Rindom, Co-founder & CEO, Pleo Ask any decision maker at a business about admin and you’re likely to...
Business first, not compliance only is the future for accountants
By Peter Bracey, MD at Bracey’s Accountants. The past few months have underlined the need for better business insight to reduce...