This 2-part blog series will explore the reasons mobile technology will be the key to redefining the branch experience in the coming years. Today, most people under the age of 60 will do just about anything to avoid going to their actual bank branch—unless you count stopping at the drive-thru ATM. But even this is at risk with the emergence of peer-to-peer payment services (e.g. Venmo, Apple Cash) further eliminating the need to carry cash.
Let me share a few stats, if the scope of the trend away from Bank Branch isn’t already totally clear:
But the end of the Branch doesn’t have to be an inevitability. Nor does the end of personal relationships with your customer.
Most banks and financial institutions have focused on a move towards consumer self-service and have invested a lot in the mobile apps and services they provide customers. But these mobile apps provide great levels of convenience for mundane activities, like cashing checks and paying bills. Don’t get me wrong, taking a picture of a check to deposit it is the single greatest feature of my BofA app. But that feature is a temporary advantage and does not drive long-term competitive advantage.
More importantly, it has absolutely zero impact on whether I deepen my relationship with the bank. Whether I establish a Home Equity Line of Credit with BofA, open up an investment account or partake in any of the other services I probably don’t even know they offer is absolutely not influenced by the quality of their consumer app. Although in truth, if their app lacked these convenience features, I’d probably switch to a banking institution that had them.
What might deepen the relationship I have with my bank? A mobile app (or apps), in the hands of my banker or financial advisor that would help them establish a personal relationship—and a sense of trust—with me. Banks and Investment firms need to take a (dare I say) “mobile-first” approach to their employees to empower them to better engage with customers and literally meet them where they are—in the home or at the local coffee shop—rather than insisting we go out of our way to make their way to the Branch.
Mobile is a foundational part of a larger digital strategy—often the primary interface for both customer and Financial Advisor—and is to be leveraged when the situation calls for it and when it matches the client’s preferred channels.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
As much as “Mobile First” is misunderstood, “Digital Transformation” may be an even more fraught term. In short, Digital Transformation is about moving away from paper-based processes and disconnected systems. It’s about boosting productivity by increasing the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of the information folks need to do their jobs. This allows organizations to better serve customers, be more productive, and make better use of company personnel and resources.
As the below graphic explains, mobile devices are the primary interface for much of the company data and operations from Digital Transformation initiatives. Why is that?
To deal with these trends, banking and financial services are making significant investments in the technology they provide customers and employees. Some are making dramatic changes to their retail banking environments, eschewing teller lines with advisors sitting behind a large desk for more conversational, lounge-style environments. Capital One has taken that to the extreme with their Capital One Cafés. Instead of meeting clients at a Starbucks, they have essentially brought the barista experience to the branch.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for Part II, which will discuss Guiding Principles for Mobile Innovation in Financial Services. If any of this has sparked some interest, and you want to learn more about how you can make these concepts a reality in your company, please feel free to reach out to us, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you get started.
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