Have you ever traveled to another part of the world, where people spoke a different language and followed customs that were completely different from what you were used to? Add to that a little jet-lag and local currency confusion, and suddenly you have
an elevated heartrate and sweaty palms.
It is at times like this when we most need a guide. Some travelers are independent and use only a guidebook and their own wits to help them on their journey. Others need a more active guide – someone who speaks the language, understands the customs, and
eases the traveler’s entry into a new world.
For many U.S. consumers, the journey from the physical banking habits of their past to the digital banking world of the present can be every bit as disorienting as a trip to the other side of the world. And banks increasingly realize that they cannot expect
consumers to make that journey without active guides to support and encourage the traveler as they take their first steps.
Banks need only look to the airline industry for inspiration. Airlines eased travelers’ journey from the old world of physical ticketing to the new world of self-serve kiosks. Many remember that the airlines did not scrimp on their agent expense (e.g. reducing
agents immediately after installing kiosks), but rather they had certain agents standing near the kiosks, available to guide a first-time kiosk user through the process. This boosted confidence, instilled new consumer preferences for digital over human intervention,
and led to the desired result: happier customers and less expense for routine transactions.
Banks need to think the same way. We spoke with a large international bank recently about their own efforts in this area, and their program serves as a model for other banks to follow.
This bank has created a new role in their branches: the Digital Advocate. In short, the Digital Advocate’s role is to be present near the door of the branch, tablet in hand, ready to assist customers. Each tablet is equipped with financial product information
so the Advocate can guide a first-time visitor to the right banking relationship. In many cases, the Advocate will enable a visitor to use the mobile banking app on their phone or, if they don’t have the app, to help them download it and get the credentials
to use it.
This is vital, and few banks are doing it well.
Interestingly, a high percentage of branch visitors come with routine transaction needs. According to Bain’s excellent study “Bank Branch and Call Center Traffic Jam”, 8% of branch visitors are checking their balance, and a whopping 37% are depositing a
check. At Mitek, we take personal offence at that last number, and banks should also.
Not surprisingly, Bain also pointed out that the industry is doing a poor job of actively encouraging and guiding branch visitors to a digital present. Worse, the data shows a form of ageism in the market, where older visitors are less likely to receive
personal encouragement from branch staff to use digital tools than a younger visitor – this despite the fact that boomers are heavy users of digital financial tools.
When it comes to helping consumers move from the physical to the digital worlds, what we have learned in talking to some of the 5,500+ banks that use Mitek’s Mobile Deposit is the same lesson any international traveler has already experienced: consumers
success in the journey – in fact, generating interest on the part of the consumer to take the journey at all – is tied to the presence of a trusted guide.
Digital Advocacy isn’t a job. It’s a state of mind. Successful banks understand this. They staff and train accordingly.