Online and mobile banking are changing the game dramatically. There will always be a role for the physical branch, but foot traffic will never be as reliable as it once was. Rethinking branch efficiency is something that all banks and credit unions will have to do.
We recently highlighted three ways in which banks are coping with less foot traffic: Cuts, caution and acquisitions. A strategy that goes hand in hand with these options is creating a more efficient branch.
A recent article from BAI backs us up:
If banks respond to [the challenge of low foot traffic] by closing branches, they are completely eliminating the chance for the all-important account-holder “face-time,” an element of service that mobile and online banking are already taking away. The solution, we believe, is for branches to become leaner and more effectively structured and to engage in targeted strategies that maximize opportunities to capture new revenue streams. They also must restructure their thinking.
BAI’s suggestion is smarter scheduling of part-time employees and reduced operating hours for low-traffic branches–great points, but banks can do more. It’s not enough just to be efficient, banks have to figure out new ways to create dialogues.
Mobile and online banking don’t need to take away face-to-face service, they just need to offer more in order to create those opportunities.
Part of a branch efficiency strategy should include more robust online/mobile offerings. These customer experiences are transaction-focused because that’s the benefit that’s offered to customers. The role of the website needs to be re-envisioned to offer more.
Here’s the prime example of what banks can offer:
Target recently had a massive data breach. Everyone was looking for answers about potential identity theft. Your website should be a platform that can provide answers.
Not just about identity theft, but the hundreds of financial questions that people have throughout their lives: How a mortgage works, how to plan for a baby, how to save for retirement. People want easy-to-understand answers.
Content on these subjects can be used to start dialogues. Content can put your customers directly in touch with your financial advisers. Content can create the opportunity for the face-to-face dialogues that aren’t coming from foot traffic any more.
Check out our workshop on Bringing Back Dialogues to learn more about how you can get face-to-face with an increasingly online customer-base.