Digital Banking Leaves Many Branch Experiences in The Dark Ages

The banking industry continues to invest heavily in online and mobile banking delivery, setting an experience standard that can't be met in most physical branches. This creates an experience gap between channels that decreases satisfaction at critical points in the customer journey.

When was the last time you visited an airline counter to check in to your flight? The process is often slow and painful, and takes away valuable time you need to get through security and to your gate. The underlying problem is that the technology and user experience the airline representative is using is often outdated and complex.

What the airline customer can perform quickly on their phone or at a kiosk takes dramatically less time than when they are in person, creating stress and frustration. This fractured technology architecture drives people to avoid talking to airline representatives and often promotes looking to another airline in the future to bypass this scenario.

The airline example or other similar experiences can be likened to many branch experiences of today. While most financial institutions offer consumers efficient online and mobile applications, banking associates are still using outdated, complex systems that inhibit them from providing quality technology-related experiences.

When a branch representative is operating on a cumbersome green screen, and the consumer is using an intuitive mobile device, communication is impaired and the branch representative cannot provide adequate assistance. Not to mention, the new generation of branch employees today grew up with smartphone technology, so training them to operate a green screen is costly and increases the attrition rate.

From Green Screens to Intuitive Platforms

Because of the disconnect between smartphone or online experiences and branch engagement norms, financial institutions must be focused on implementing banking platforms that span  both self-service and assisted channels to ensure continuous engagement between branch employees and consumers. Having the ability to view a consumer’s entire financial story, in real-time, across online/mobile, branch, contact center, and remote workforce provides the consumer with personalized engagement while delivering significant revenue opportunities and cost savings to the financial institution.

The universal banker is able to quickly identify the consumer, see their relationship with the organization, view a history of the consumer’s activities and requests, and then take appropriate action to provide necessary assistance. In short, the branch representative should always be able to immediately pick up the story where the consumer left off, ensuring that all parties have a much more pleasant banking experience.

This includes an intuitive, mobile-first experience for the branch associate, enabling continuous engagement through the sales and account origination process, as well as automating fulfillment requests such as disputes, card status and account maintenance to reduce manual back-office processes. The branch associate becomes more engaged with a reduction in training costs and attrition rates.

Insight Integration Within the Branch

With a platform that spans both self-service and assisted channels of a financial institution, the burden no longer remains on the consumer. If consumers have an issue that cannot be rectified via website or mobile device, they no longer need to call the contact center, taking the call center rep step-by-step through what they tried to accomplish, describing exactly what went wrong and then waiting for the call center rep to research and attempt to fix the problem.

This process typically results in the consumer being asked to repeat or re-key information. In the worst cases, the consumer may be forced to visit a branch to rectify a simple problem because the branch associate can only perform the action at a green-screen terminal.

In some cases, this process can take up to three weeks to complete if there is a manual back-office process. This is frustrating for the consumer who does not want to have to waste time reliving every action he or she has already taken, as well as for the branch associate who is simply trying to help and keep the consumer happy.

The impact to this type of engagement is that the branch associate’s time is spent determining how to complete a task on a complex legacy system versus spending time focused on the consumer’s additional needs and on revenue-generating activities. Financial institutions must keep in mind that while providing consumers with self-service banking technology is important, delivery of quality service requires the same tools for the branch employees. This is often compared to the more personalized, efficient Apple Store experience, where the associate and consumer have a common view that provides real-time servicing and transforms the experience for both.

Essentially, branch employees, call center agents, and the remote workforce need a platform just as intuitive as the mobile banking apps consumers use. This platform provides a consistent user experience for both consumers and banking employees that includes the user interface, the consumer’s data, offers and other marketing content, and transaction history.

Building an Omnichannel Experience

Implementing a true omnichannel platform takes the burden off the consumer because the branch representative does not need to ask multiple questions to get caught up. When the platform’s front-end and back-end views are identical, the process is both more efficient and enjoyable for all parties. An issue that once took three weeks to solve can now be resolved in a few minutes.

In addition, a platform that offers the same view on the front-end and back-end greatly reduces the risk of human error. The branch associate does not have to re-key information into the system, or manually enter data from paper documents. This dated stare-and-compare method has been proven to increase the risk of error on the part of the branch representative substantially.

By eliminating the need for manual input, branch employees gain greater efficiencies, the ability to go paperless, and a reduction of compliance issues. Everything is happening in real time, on one, consolidated platform.

Consumers today have already undergone a complete digital transformation in all aspects of life. We are able to do everything online or through an app with ease. So, it is no surprise that consumers expect this same five-star experience with their digital banking, just as they receive with other retailers. Banks and credit unions must set their goals around delivering that five-star consumer experience across all points of interaction.

With a common platform that spans both self-service and assisted channels, financial institutions are able to automate a higher percentage of transactions that were previously manual activities. This can include automated transaction disputes, service requests, beneficiary management, and more. Servicing requests that may have previously required paper forms, re-keying of information, or branch visits can evolve to automated cases that are resolved in minutes. In order to keep your branch healthy and offer top-tier service, consider implementing an innovative software platform that increases efficiency, reduces risk, and gives consumers a five-star banking experience.

This article was originally published on July 24, 2018. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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