Disruptive technologies are challenging traditional bank business models and changing how banks interact with their customers. Cores are being modernized, and artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are automating, refining and
optimizing processes. Meanwhile, digital and mobile-only direct banks have surged in popularity, and banking solutions are moving to the cloud. These are natural adaptations to the on-demand, digital experiences to which customers have become accustomed when
they make purchases online, travel or secure a ride on their phone—but it's left many to question whether this is the beginning of the end for the bank branch.
The Branch Isn't Dead; It's Reborn
While branch closures are becoming common, the media tends to overhype the significance of what this really signals for the future of banking. In truth, banks are closing and opening branches. Their intention? To launch reimagined branches that complement
and capitalize on today's technologies and tomorrow's possibilities, and serve to deepen customer experience, increase engagement, and win customer trust.
Here's a closer look at what the branch of the future may look like.
What Will the Branch of the Future Look Like?
Now that more and more of bank interactions are digital, forward-thinking banks are committed to rediscovering how, why and for whom a branch adds value. Specific approaches will vary depending on demographics, volumes and target markets, but we'll see a
number of banks begin to leverage their existing physical presence to deliver a revamped branch café of sorts this year. Here's what to expect:
An inviting space.
The branch/café space is open and welcoming, and customers will be greeted with tablets or smart technology where universal bankers can assist them with all banking needs. Personal interactions can occur directly in the open spaces or in more private "pods",
as appropriate for the conversations.
The customer is in control.
Cumbersome processes like waiting in a teller line will be replaced by a combination of self-service devices and roving advisors who are on hand to ensure the best possible experience, first and foremost. Digital self-servicing tools allow bankers on site
to spend more time proactively engaged with customers on revenue-generating activities, and to provide advice. A customer may open an account instantly on a self-serve kiosk, for example, but the roving banker ensures that he or she gets the exact right product
for her needs. The self-service kiosk will become more predominant this year, particularly at locations with high transaction volumes. In-branch kiosks can run on existing network infrastructure and are ultra-affordable compared to ATMs.
Goodbye to print and paper.
Digital signage in the branch of the future provides focal points and flexibility. As branches transform, physically and functionally, digital signage will guide customers, promote bank products and services and engage community involvement. Biometrics can
be employed via tablets and self-service kiosks to recognize and authenticate customer interactions for a frictionless experience. For situations demanding advanced advisory services, video and chat will offer ways to leverage virtual specialists while still
providing a personal touch.
Internet of Things (IoT) beacons can recognize a customer's smartphone and track its movement within the branch to provide insight into customer behavior and patterns. Banks can then utilize IoT to deliver personalized messages and experiences to smartphones,
kiosks and digital signage. More advanced IoT implementations provide the capability to conduct basic banking using wearables, and support conversational or voice banking, all of which facilitate continuous customer engagement.
Reinventing the physical space entails new design metaphors and digitally-enabled technologies that create unique centers of customer engagement. Most importantly, branches of the future must be customer-centric in nature. As part of an optimally-sized branch
network, the future-state branches will be an active and critical participant in the bank's overall customer strategy. The synergy of these core values will drive enhanced and differentiating branch experiences for well into the future. Whatever the look,
feel and functionality each bank determines a branch will offer, the physical location exists to deliver the best possible customer experience, which then primes the bank to deliver and reap maximum value from all channels.