Future Proof Branch Strategies: Self Service Kiosks
The financial services industry exists in a rapidly changing environment fuelled by evolving client preferences and emerging technologies. The growth and opportunity these changes are capable of bringing can be incredibly exciting, but what about the human side of finance? With so much technology disrupting the market, is the physical branch going to remain relevant in the coming years?
The simple answer is, yes. But a more complicated response would have to explore the fact that while the branch will certainly remain relevant, it will have to evolve to do so. And so, in this series, we will be examining 5 different strategies that banks and credit unions can implement in order to set their branches up for success in this rapidly changing landscape.
Introducing Self-Service Kiosks
As the first touchpoint for any customer entering your branch, upgrades to the lobby should be a top priority when seeking to future proof the physical banking experience. While some companies have gone for a complete technological overhaul as seen in China Construction Bank’s or Bank of America’s robot-run branches, the majority of these upgrades involve bringing in technology to supplement the human experience, rather than replace it. And looking at human behaviour, it appears that this relationship-centric approach to technology is more likely to lead to long-term success.
“Digital technology and new forms of automated service offer many exciting opportunities for financial services to become more tailored and convenient. But there will always be a role for face-to-face service when it comes to banking. Money issues are complex and emotive. Customers like to talk through what it all means with a real human being.”Paul Riseborough
Chief Commercial Officer, Metro Bank
So how can you find that happy medium between technology and face-to-face human services? By far, the most efficient method is through replacing or augmenting the standard greeting desk with self-service kiosks. Through this relatively simple investment, customers are able to skip the queue and get face time with staff quickly, creating a streamlined lobby that’s more inviting to your customers.
They also provide the added benefit of reducing labor costs and position your brand as technologically advanced, while allowing management to track and measure operations metrics across branch locations, providing them with the information they need to make more informed decisions and improve the experience even further.
And perhaps most importantly, this forward-looking strategy shifts the focus of branch employees from answering routine questions and booking appointments to making sales as they are given more time to engage in higher quality conversations with customers about their financial goals. Which is, of course, the main reason that customers come to the branch in the first place.
In fact, 77% of customers prefer visiting the branch when they want to discuss complex financial topics, and stick to digital for quick transactions, such as withdrawing cash or transferring funds. So it’s clear that there is a huge demand for strong personalized advice. This is highlighted even further with statistics on the primary pain points most likely to prompt switching banks: unprepared banking associates (68%), long wait times (55%), impersonal service (49%), and the unavailability of specialists (43%).
Branches are vital in providing customers with the personalized service that they crave, and they want to receive that personalized service through face-to-face meetings. At the same time, they are more than happy to take advantage of a technology based self-service solution if it can smooth the process of getting in front of an advisor. In fact, the same study mentioned above showed that having an advisor who could greet them by name and be prepared for their arrival (62%), allowing customers to check-in or compare wait times at local branches via a mobile app (55%), and interactive touchscreen displays to explore products and get advice while waiting (53%) were among the top solutions that these customers are interested in to improve the branch experience.
By implementing a lobby management kiosk that puts relevant customer information at the fingertips of frontline staff, eliminates long queues and uncertain wait times, and ensures that customers are matched with the appropriate advisor every time, the bank branch of the future can deliver on many of its key strengths while addressing many of the common pain points in the branch experience to drive continued success in an increasingly digital world.
“There has been much debate around whether the branch is ‘dead’: this is an interesting theoretical discussion, but it has little bearing on reality. Just as the rise of new technology has threatened the branch in the past few years, it also holds the key to their continued relevance. By implementing the right solutions, a bank can ensure that its branches are cost-effective and play their role in offering excellent customer experience.”Lawrence Freeborn
Senior Research Analyst, IDC Financial Insights
Check out PART TWO of this series, where we discuss design changes in the lobby that can help to encourage relationship building and conversations between advisors and their customers.
Looking for more strategies to meet your customers’ changing expectations around the in-branch experience? Download the full report Becoming Future Proof: Five Proven Strategies for the Branches of the Future to learn more methods in technology, design, and service that branches can take advantage of to adapt in the rapidly changing financial landscape.
Interested to hear what top experts in financial customer experience have to say about the coming challenges branches are looking forward to? Watch our panel discussion Embracing a Customer-First Mindset: Eliminate Friction Points in Your Customer Multi-Channel Journey
Ready to start taking steps to ensure your branch is set up to meet your customer’s evolving expectations head on? Schedule a consultation with Coconut Software to learn more about how our tailored solutions can help.