Humanising Digital Bank Branches

Humanising Digital Bank Branches 3rd November 2014

Digital is clearly the future of retail banking. However, in an increasingly digital world it’s crucial for banks to remember that their customers still want human interaction. Digital efficiency will never replace the emotional impact of good customer service or sound personal advice.

The challenge for banks is to harness the very best of the digital world and blend it with the warmth of human interaction.

The most successful brands today identify the right blend of physical and digital for each stage of the customer journey.

The customer journey, of course, is multi-channel. And consumers expect to be able to move seamlessly from one channel to another throughout a transaction. Back in the multi-channel dark ages, interaction between these channels was limited, if not non-existent. In the new omni-channel era, channels are integrated into a single meta-channel that allows a customer to start their experience at one touch-point, to continue it at another and to complete it at yet another.

The impact of the smart phone on retail banking is also fundamental, and in time it will change completely how customers interact with their bank. It will become the primary device for transacting, browsing, booking, interacting and keeping in contact with your bank. The role of the smart phone will also have a major impact on bank branch design.

With branch sizes and the numbers of staff both being decreased, and transactions increasingly moving online or to self-service, what remains of the human aspect of customer service – and customer experience – must be even better in order to retain customers and attract new ones.

Bank branches that were once designed as functional spaces in which to transact and sell have become engagement zones to connect on a human level and promote a bank’s more profitable products and services. Physical touch-points that focus on face-to-face advice will need to become more inviting and welcoming, and the appropriate use of the latest technology within physical branches will enhance the customer experience.

Technology also affords a bank the opportunity to provide – at least the appearance of – customised banking and bespoke solutions to a far broader range of its customer base.

This is both cost-effective and engaging. The secret to success in this area is a well-thought out service model that includes every customer’s potential requirements (within reason) followed by a good triage process to prioritise where focus is placed during sales and marketing. Effectively, you’re pre-designing a solution once for every case, and then re-selling it on multiple occasions. The outcome is that consumers feel they’re getting a bespoke solution when, in fact, it’s off-the-shelf.

Outlined below is our guide to maintaining the perfect blend between human and digital with a branch: 

Ten Steps to humanising a digital branch experience

  1. Mobile applications to locate the nearest branch and make an appointment
  2. Touch-screens in the window to answer basic questions and browse 24/7
  3. Self-service lobbies open 24 hours a day for secure banking
  4. Customer management system to fast-track customers to the right adviser or service
  5. Roaming staff with tablets for instant answers
  6. A paperless environment: no stacks of paper, leaflets or posters
  7. Video-links to a range of specialist, remote advisers available 24/7
  8. Computer screens shared between staff and advisers – no hidden information
  9. Reactive promotional screens that respond to age and gender
  10. Service quality measured at departure.

Jon Blakeney, I-AM Group Director

Please get in touch with us at I-AM if you would like to talk about branch design, format strategy, omni-channel banking – or anything else relating to your bank’s brand and the customer experience you offer.