How Banks Can Build a Foundation to Make the Human Connection

June 07, 2022
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The banking industry is at a crossroads. Faced with competition from fintech companies, the growing demographic of customers who’ve never set foot inside a bank branch, and the shift to a hybrid workforce, bank leaders are rethinking branch strategies and the technologies that support them.

Local bank branches are the human interface with the customer, but they may not be delivering the cutting-edge experience consumers now expect. It’s a question of how to make the most of the brick-and-mortar assets while using that opportunity for personal connection to build the bank’s brand reputation and grow the bottom line. That can be difficult to accomplish when the bank has to scale technology advances across hundreds or even thousands of branches concurrently.

All the while, hybrid work adds to ongoing demands on the network, magnifying the need for a clear connection between customers and call-center employees.

Avoiding the branch may have become a habit for many consumers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as it subsides, many customers may still be apprehensive about visiting a physical branch. As a result, making the branch an attractive value-add is more important than ever.

Teller training and technology strategies may undermine performance and customer satisfaction

Prioritizing the connection with the customer puts in-branch tellers at the forefront of a bank’s transformation strategy. But training programs to shift tellers’ roles from transactional to advisory will only be effective if the right customer data is in their hands.

It frustrates customers when they’ve started a transaction like a loan application online or have an account question, and then have to start over when they walk into the branch. This disconnect between the online and in-person experience is time-consuming and a bother—and discourages customers from doing business with a bank.

Back at the bank’s headquarters, technology teams work hard to develop new products. But if the bank is trying to build innovative new experiences on top of the existing in-branch network architecture, it may not achieve desired performance levels. In the end, the network may not be evolving at the speed of ongoing software and hybrid cloud initiatives.

For employees now servicing call-center inquiries remotely, customers’ expectation for speed means the network takes on a new and different role. Some at-home networks may not have the capacity of a corporate connection. So, while bank employees may have access to online data, they may not be able to access it quickly enough.

More U.S. millennials are becoming digital banking users every day. That means there’s a narrowing window of opportunity for banks to innovate before they are potentially displaced by fintechs.

Deliver a next-level customer experience through a new approach

Banks have been known for transactions—safe, secure, and efficient transactions. But it’s not enough to focus on the top-down customer interfaces to take the customer experience to the next level. Banks need to build a foundation that will propel their teams to make the human connection.

But to do that, banks have to transform the branch experience through retail-oriented data analytics. By collecting and using customer data to inform the in-branch experience, banks can extend their customers’ brand experience from the branch and online to a fully digital interaction. At the same time, banks need to create a scalable network so that it’s easier and faster to launch new technologies or refreshes across branches. When they do, their branch managers and IT team can work toward strategic programs and objectives more efficiently.

Finally, many banks are embracing hybrid work environments by deploying a commercial quality networking solution for their hybrid employees. By doing so, they can give customer service professionals and other team members who are working from home, the high-quality system performance they need to meet or exceed customers’ expectations.

The bar for customer service is getting higher all the time, with digitization, automation, and intuitive online interactions shaping consumer expectations. But traditional brick-and-mortar banks have a key differentiator: people.

Through this approach, banks can empower their teams to innovate. They’ll be able to present a unified front to their customers—from wherever interactions originate—while taking advantage of their branch-based human touch to differentiate their experience. Click here to learn more.

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