This brief was inspired by a recent Epson think piece discussing the bank branch of the future. Having read that, we wanted to get a fuller picture of the driving forces behind the changing relationship between consumers and bank branches. We dove deeper into why these changes are occurring and how a branch can use technology to reimagine itself into what people want today, next year or five years from now.
Once seen as a cornerstone of every town, bank branches are no longer the only source of financial support available to the public. New technologies and fierce competition have changed how consumers bank. To keep pace with new expectations, financial institutions that want to prosper today and into the future need to rethink how their individual branches service their customers.
This is first done by understanding the individual audience segments – Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and small businesses – and what they want from their banking partner. By pairing their needs with the right blend of technology, banks can provide the experiences each group wants and thus evolve their branch of the future into efficient, profitable and vital hubs.
It may not seem like it was that long ago when everyone had to show up, in-person, to their favorite local bank branch to conduct a financial transaction. Whether in person, through the drive-up window or via ATM, there was a time even after direct deposit became wide-spread, that “going to the bank” was a regular reality.
Today, that’s just not the case. In business and profitability terms, this is a bygone era, and some financial institutions have struggled to evolve their branches into relevant tools that grow revenue.
Make no mistake; the individual branch isn’t going anywhere. Despite leaps and bounds in online and mobile banking, the need for a geographically convenient center for financial assistance remains. The successful branch of the future, however, will be very different from the branch of today.
As technology grows and demographics evolve, customer needs and expectations will change. The successful branch of the future will anticipate these changes and provide them.
Be prepared: Know your audience segments
To build a branch of the future, you have to understand what your customer segments will want next.
Generations have personas, each desiring experiences that are different from the others. To best prepare, start by looking at what each most desires.
More tech savvy than any previous generation, Millennials are the driving force behind technology trends. First and foremost, they want full online access to every avenue of their financial transactions, but that doesn’t mean the branch holds no appeal for them. As they age and grow in prosperity, Millennials will be seeking professional advisors to help them find the products and services they most need. A financial institution with branches catering to this desire for one-on-one advice will have advantages.
Although they are a smaller population than the surrounding generations, Gen Xers have more spending power than any other generation. As they age over 50, they join the generational subgroup that drives more financial activity, more growth in digital channels and holds the most financial institution revenues in the US. Gen Xers also want the convenience of conducting transactions online but are looking to their financial institution for specific future planning because although they are currently hitting strides in their careers, they are either caring for children, aging parent or both.
Although 71 percent of boomers go online to access personal financial information at least once a week, the gulf between the younger and older halves of this generation are starker. For example, only 18 percent of those over 61 use mobile banking. Boomers still value in-person, one-on-one banking. They are particularly in need of help with retirement and caregiving plans, wealth management and fraud protection.
In addition to the generational demographics, the branch of the future needs to focus on small business customers and their unique needs.
- They are traditional in their banking preferring personal service focused on their local branch.
- Small businesses are interested in services that streamline their operations as the move into future growth.
- When properly managed, they have a lot of loyalty potential. Nearly half of surveyed small businesses would consolidate all their balances with one financial institution if it provided the experiences they want.
Creating the best branch of the future experience through technology
Customers – even happy, loyal customers – don’t come to your branch for fun. They want to complete their task, feel good about it and be on their way.
The successful branch of the future will provide a great customer experience.
- With the continued growth in online and mobile banking, the need for tellers will lessen, but the need for specialist and relationship advisor roles will increase.
- Upgrading to technologies that improve both the customer online, mobile and remote experiences as well as in-branch visits will be key.
- Streamlined experiences will improve customer interactions to both increase loyalty and save operational costs.
There’s more to upgrading your branch for the best future position than reconsidering staffing and interior design. Take a studied, focused approach with the right technology.
Leverage experts with technology
The branch of the future will provide fast, efficient and enjoyable experiences for your customers in-house. This includes access to subject specialists that can help them no matter their banking needs. But if you don’t have the resources to supply each branch with a team of experts, create a real-time communications hub to reach team members at other locations.
- Digital signage - start with your rate boards and entry-way signage. Then take your branch to the next level with interactive technologies that create a personalized experience for your customers.
- Video teleconferencing with interactive projectors – create face time with anyone, anywhere.
- Document scanners – allow multiple individuals to address important documents from various locations to the same project.
- Document management system – connected to scanners to recognize, analyze and properly archive documents.
Mobile receipt printers allow for a whole new realm of customer interactions from within your branch and outside of it. By integrating with smart devices using wifi and Bluetooth pairing.
During an unexpected rush or as part of a one-on-one advisory session, bankers can handle the entire transaction allowing the customer to avoid waiting in line.
Financial service personnel can go where your customers are – such as public events or college orientations – to open new accounts with transactions just as would happen in the branch.
Despite the technology coming to the branch of the future, some existing hardware will only get better.
- Multi-function teller device – scan checks and IDs, print receipts and cashier’s checks. This device makes daily transactions quicker, more efficient and more accurate.
- Check scanners – as the name suggests, check scanners enables processing of checks while removing human errors, making the front-end process faster for the customer and the back-end easier on your end-of-day. Scanning checks at the teller line allows your team to stay in front of the customer for the whole transaction.
- Remote deposit capture (RDC) – a game-changer for small businesses, RDCs allow them to scan their checks and deposit them remotely giving them the freedom to do their banking in their own time, at their location and saving the bank staffing.
It’s not too early to prepare your branch of the future. Your customers are looking today for these experiences. Make sure they're looking at you.