By Bryan Clagett
Enough with the talk of the branch of the future. The branch of the future is something I’ve been hearing about since I entered the banking industry in 1986. Guess what? Nothing has really changed that much. So welcome to the future which is really here, and now. Outside your branch doors a digital revolution is occurring at this very moment. Sure, there will be ever more technology in our future and it will never go away. However, when it comes to retail banking, the digital world now overshadows the analog world of branch banking. In other words, most of you, my banking friends, live in the past. Want to catch up? Here some things you can do now:
Your branches are part of a digital bank.
It’s time to look at the bigger picture and stop looking at a delivery strategy built around your branch foundation. Start with a digital foundation and insert a branch or outlet strategy into the digital foundation. Banking is something we do; it’s not simply a place we go. Our branches are too big, too limited and too outdated, because they were built off a model that is more than 120 years old.
Reevaluate your branch staff.
Are current branch staffing models in sync with the era we are in? Perhaps each branch needs a digital banking expert or “Genius”. This individual is tasked with personally educating every customers on all your digital tools, and helping them reduce the chore of banking. Try to provide online product demos in a hands-on fashion. By the way, what the hell is a “teller?” That’s some really outdated terminology.
Eliminate branch collateral.
Now let me me tick of some out-of-touch marketing firms. Consumers know you offer deposit and loan products. Genuine advocates don’t hand out brochures; advocates engage. Digitize all collateral materials now and have in-branch review products with customers using a digital format. If a customer wants to think about a product and is not ready to “buy”, offer to send the info via email.
Stop printing “stuff.”
Use the interactions in your branch to build relationships and databases. For example, when a customer makes a deposit, why do we automatically print a deposit receipt? Can’t we create digital receipts and email them? If K-Mart can, so can you. It’s a convenient, environmentally friendly alternative to paper receipts and can be part of a more encompassing digital strategy. There are day-to-day things your people do, that can be done better with digital.
Digital applications accepted.
Forms and applications should all be done digitally. Tablets using mobile platforms can be used to streamline the process, enhance the retail experience and reduce errors. How much paper can you eliminate in your branch? Mounds of it, no doubt.
Give the branch a social media presence.
This one needs a little more thought, and will be controversial – but I’m throwing it out there. Why can’t your in-branch digital expert establish a digital presence with members using their specific branch? For example. People check in with FourSquare/Swarm all the time with or without your knowledge. This is an engagement opportunity that the bulk of you are missing. You’re more than a branch, you’re a retailer. My local Gap, TGI Friday’s and Brooks Brothers all have local social media engagement.
Remove the crap.
If your branch was a well-designed website or online banking platform, what would it look like? It would certainly not look cluttered. It would not have “pop-up ads” appearing all over the place. Most branches are cluttered, have too many promotional displays and don’t convey a polished retail message. While you are at it, move to digital merchandising solutions.
Align with consumer needs.
Anticipating need and impacting behavior is all the buzz in the digital banking world. But what about branch banking? People do want more control over their financial destiny, even those walking into your branches. If I walked into your branch and said “I want more control of what I save and spend”, how would you respond? Would you give me a savings account brochure and an online banking application? That’s advocacy? Perhaps what you should offer me, is a “plan” or some tools.
In short, don’t just look to the future. Look at what you can do now. There is plenty you can do. Don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the future. Live in the now.