Bank branches are evolving. User experience now has to be front of mind for any financial services provider looking to retain their competitive edge. New advances in technology are always pushing the boundaries of customer expectations, and many in the financial
services industry have begun to question whether new banking technologies could spell the end for the branch.
One of the latest developments to bring the conversation back into the spotlight is the introduction of video banking services. Speaking to a financial expert face-to-face is still a crucial step in any customer’s personal banking journey, particularly when
they’re discussing high value services and important moments in banking, such as setting up and receiving advice on mortgages.
This year video banking technology will enable customers to conduct these sorts of face-to-face conversations from the comfort of their own home. Both Barclays and Coutts have recently announced new services which enable customers to speak to a financial
expert face-to-face through their mobile or desktop computer.
The Barclays service will be available from early this year to mortgage, business and wealth customers, after which it will be made available to all retail customers. The Coutts service is initially running as a pilot scheme with a small group of customers
and their relationship advisers, but will be rolled out to all the firm’s 72,000 customers if successful.
Previously, for major services such as opening a mortgage, customers have had to make an appointment in branch. Mobile and digital platforms have enabled customers to manage their finances however, whenever and wherever they want to, and that has caused
their expectations to change. Video banking gives customers the chance to marry the confidence they get from a face-to-face meeting with the convenience of scheduling and holding those meetings on their own terms.
Intelligent Environments latest research shows that the branch is now the preferred banking method for less than one in ten people (9 per cent) in the UK. This is compared to more than 54 per cent who prefer managing their finances online and 17 per cent
who prefer using their smartphone. Now that video banking is part of the mix many branch managers would be forgiven for starting to get nervous.
However, we don’t believe this spells the end for the branch. Rather it opens up key in branch services to customers for whom visiting a branch would be inconvenient, such as those who have rigid work schedules or people who live in remote locations far
from their nearest branch. Video banking – as with mobile and digital banking before it – will run in tandem with branch services, and complement them in a way that will help banks to both meet and exceed the expectations of their customers.