Branch Transformation Miscues or...What Could Possibly Go Wrong
Part 1: Staffing
Much has been written, discussed and spent on the topic of Branch Transformation over the past few years. Yet, with all the exploration, experimentation, and evaluation, no single formula for success has emerged. Financial institutions continue to search for answers appropriate to their individual organizations. Tech suppliers continue to say they can “show you the way”, and industry thought leaders state that Universal Bankers, which was thought to be an essential staffing strategy in support of Branch Transformation, may not be universally needed. We also now learn that the “Branch of the Future [might] Not [be] All That Different Than [the] Branch of Today.” In the midst of all this, billions of dollars are being been spent globally according to IDC, yet the results continue to be mixed.
So what has all of this meant in terms of measurable advancements? In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, Bob Meara of Celent was quoted as follows, “Most banks don’t have a clear vision of where to take the branch.” This quote was among various manifestations of the branch transformation concept by spokespeople for most of the nation’s largest, most prominent banks, each deeply immersed in their own version of branch transformation. Perhaps the first line of the article says it all, “Banks just can’t figure out what to do with their branches.”
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Branch Transformation and Alphabet Soup
Volumes have now been written about branch transformation and many opinions expressed about what the banking organization of the future will look like. Technology suppliers have joined industry thought leaders in providing a perplexing variety of views, opinions and recommendations about how financial institutions should respond. Unfortunately, however, the industry has a continuing track record of making things difficult to process and interpret, all due to the obsessive over use of acronyms. That’s right! All those industry experts rely way too much on the industry’s alphabet soup!
Now, to be perfectly clear...
It used to be simple to automate the branch. A few PCs connected to the network, one or more ATMs in the vestibule or drive-thru, and either TCDs or TCRs to automate and secure the cash was all the hardware technology needed in the well-equipped branch.
This is where things get more complicated. Banks are now implementing CRM systems to better understand and serve their customers while working with their technology suppliers to integrate their systems using APIs. Some are even implementing ITMs, ILTs, PTMs, or AST machines to replace or augment the traditional teller role in transaction processing. They are even changing the way the branch is staffed, now with UBs who can handle a wider array of banking services as compared to the role of the teller. The ABA now offers a certification curriculum for this position. This staffing strategy is in hopes of improving the in-branch CX, and making customers raving fans according to the NPS system. Some institutions have even started to measure employee satisfaction using GPTW surveys.
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Heads-Up for Customer Engagements and Engaged Customers
In today’s banking environment, most financial institutions are trying to migrate customers to less costly, self-directed channels for most transactions previously completed by a teller. Doing so, when people visit your branch is risky. According to Gallup research, “… the branch experience of today looks much different than it did even a few years ago, and banks tend to overlook the significance of just a single interaction.”i
Why are these face-to-face opportunities critically important?
There are two reasons. Besides the simple fact that there are fewer face-to-face customer engagement opportunities, they are also changing in nature! It is no longer just about cashing a check or making a deposit. Again quoting the Gallup research, “…banking customers are especially drawn to full-service, or ‘human,’ channels such as the branch when they need to conduct complex and emotionally charged tasks like opening or closing an account, applying for a loan, seeking financial advice or reporting a problem.” ii Branches are uniquely positioned to deliver high-quality customer interactions during what Gallup calls “moments of truth,” resulting in the delivery of a superior in-branch experience and positively engaged customers. iii
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