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Banking

BRANCHES ARE THE HUMAN FACE OF YOUR BANK?

Sudeepto Mukherjee, Senior Vice President, Financial Services Lead EMEA & APAC Publicis Sapient

 

Branches have always played a pivotal role in a bank’s ability to acquire and service customers. Historical surveys have consistently pointed to the fact that proximity to branches is one of the key reasons that determine who consumers choose to bank with. Even with the increased adoption of mobile banking in the past decade, research from data specialists CACI had found that surprisingly, the decline of branch visitors has been modest, equating to less than 2% per year, with digital channels supplementing the customer experience rather than replacing it.

The COVID pandemic has changed all of that. It has suddenly forced consumers away from branches into call centres and web/mobile channels to meet their banking needs. So the big question is what role should branches play as we recover from this pandemic? Will branch centric business models like that of Metro Bank still thrive or will the digital only banking offerings like those from Starling and similar win out?

Banks will always have 2 different faces to consumers. The first face is one that is human and relationship based. This is the part of the bank that consumers rely on to get advice on how to manage their life savings. The face that they call upon when they are in financial distress and need help overcoming that. The face that helps them make product choices on what credit type would best suit their circumstance. The second face is that of the bank as an efficient machine that uses the best available technology, data and AI to meet transactional needs quickly. This is the face that consumers rely on to make payments in real time and conveniently. The machine that provides the ability to quickly respond to queries around account balances and transaction history. The machine that alerts consumers when certain actions are performed on their accounts. Customers expect both these faces from their bank. However, the financial crisis and the PPI scandals saw banks loose the trust and credibility of customers as they were seen to be driven more by internal profits rather than consumer needs. The human face of the bank was no longer visible to most consumers and the machine failed to live up to the expectations set by the Big Tech giants like Apple and Amazon that seamlessly provided services via their digital platforms.

The Bank Branch can play a pivotal role going forward in re-establishing this human side by helping a bank build trust and become the primary advisor for our financial needs. Instead of just meeting transactional needs like check deposits and account openings, banks can now transition branches into relationship centres where their employees are 100% focussed on financial advice and well-being of their customers. They are teachers and coaches, life-cheerleaders and financial partners – they are many in number.

Historically this model has been difficult to achieve because of the high cost of such personalised service at scale in branches. However, advancements in technology/AI coupled with the propensity of customers to use digital channels for transactional needs now make this imminently within reach .

 

This transition will require a fundamental shift in 3 big areas:

  • Creating a strong digital infrastructure to enable an omni-channel service: Banks will have to double down on their digital transformation efforts and build an infrastructure that can serve most transactional needs seamlessly via digital channels and call centres. The operational burden on both call centre and back office staff will have to be significantly reduced by automating as many processes as possible and providing the right tools and insight to help consumers efficiently.
  • Culture and Capability: This will also require a big shift in both capability and culture. Every function of a bank (like risk, finance, product control) will have to get more comfortable in leveraging technology to do a majority of the tasks currently done by humans while investments will be needed in new capabilities so front line staff can focus on building relationships at scale and provide good advice to consumers.
  • Bringing customers along on this journey: All this will work only if there is also a strong focus on educating customers on how best to interact with a bank and use branches only for the most complex needs while relying on other less expensive channels for day-to day banking services.

 

Making this transition will not be easy. Constrained finances and a higher compliance burden, have resulted in a large technology debt and complex operating models in most banks. Banks have to take a more ambitious approach to “jump” to this new model. Digital leaders like Amazon and Netflix have shown how a shift from physical stores to a more digital centric ecosystem can not only be more efficient but also create value for consumers.

Now is the time for banks to seize this opportunity to redefine the role of branches and re-establish them as essential advice centres for meeting their communities financial needs.

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Banking

WHY BANKS NEED TO EMBRACE WELLBEING IN THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE

Howard Pull, Head of Digital Transformation Strategy at MullenLowe Profero

 

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy has been huge. Over the past six months, youth unemployment figures have dropped, wages have stagnated and GDP has fallen by a record 20.4%. The drop in GDP is worse than the 2008 Financial Crisis, the Winter of Discontent and the Great Depression.

While the furlough scheme and other government measures have provided some much-needed financial support, the prevailing social and economic conditions have made money worries increasingly common. According to a recent survey from MullenLowe Profero, during the pandemic 40% of 18-25-year-olds are afraid to look at their bank account, with a further 40% stating that thinking about their money has a negative impact on their own personal wellbeing.

In response to these rising financial concerns from account holders, it is clear that banks need to help people – especially young people – feel more confident in managing their money. In particular, banks need to provide more educational support to their customers about how they can make the right financial decisions. This means designing tools and support services to enable more people to effectively manage their finances.

With 60% of consumers aged 18-25 believing that banks should help them have the capacity to absorb a financial shock, financial institutions also need to adapt their products and services to meet the needs of more uncertain account holders.

Adapting services, however, is easier said than done. The pandemic has radically shaped consumer behaviours and therefore the old rules no longer apply. For example, while consumers in the past may have preferred to discuss financial matters in person at a bank branch, risk of infection and the widespread use of digital tools has meant that the majority of young people want banks to provide wellbeing services online.

Digital experiences are also important to the future success of any bank. According to MullenLowe Profero’s report, digital experience is now the number one reason why young people choose a bank. Therefore, it is clear that banks during the pandemic and beyond need to reevaluate their operations and shape their personal wellbeing strategies around digital tools.

 

Community and Global Wellbeing

MullenLowe Profero’s report into financial wellbeing found that young people weren’t just concerned with their own personal wellbeing. They were also concerned about the importance of community and global wellbeing too. In fact, over half of 18-25-year-olds agree that the events of the last few months have made them seek out brands that do better for the world, with another 50% stating that the importance of a local community has increased during the pandemic.

Community wellbeing is concerned with the importance of local areas and the businesses and organisations that are based within them, whereas global wellbeing is concerned about the entire world. For banks, showing support for areas local to their branches and customers as well as issues affecting the globe such as the climate crisis is important to maintaining the trust and support of account holders.

Focussing banks on concerns around community and global wellbeing requires banks to assess their impact on the wider world. In other words, it forces banks to check who they support and where their money could be better placed. For example, young people want to be recognised for their positive behaviours. 56% of 18-25-year-olds want rewards and benefits for purchasing ethical and sustainable products and services.

The findings of the report found that young people across the board want financial institutions to reflect their values and to help them manage their finances. With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc on our day to day lives, banks can provide much-needed support by offering educational help as well as creating products and services that actively manage an account holder’s finances. They can also step in and provide support to the wider community and world by taking measures to reward ethical and sustainable behaviours.

 

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Banking

IMPROVING THE BANKING EXPERIENCE THROUGH INFORMATIVE AND ENGAGING VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS

Javier Lopez, General Manager Vertical Solutions, OKI Europe Ltd

 

Banks play an integral role in daily life. However, everyday opportunities such as attracting new customers into branches to open an account, or promoting new offers and services to existing customers, can be lengthy, expensive and cumbersome processes – especially when tailoring communications to the specific requirements of each branch, or differing customer needs.

Quickly creating and adapting in-branch visual communications to communicate and educate cost effectively while remaining on brand can be a challenge, especially for banks that have networks of branches and print their visual communications centrally or use third-party suppliers.

 

Building trust through signage

Visual communications can help build trust and satisfaction between you and your customers.  The ability to create and print personalised communications on demand can not only instil confidence in your brand, it can also offer the flexibility to quickly adapt to financial trends and fluctuations in interest rates. This is particularly important in today’s volatile market, so that you can keep your customers informed while remaining competitive.

Javier Lopez

Printing in-branch and on-demand is an immediate and cost-effective way for banks to communicate with customers. With the right printer on-site, branch staff can easily create and print signage and customer communications as well as everyday documentation to a professional quality as and when needed. This saves on the cost of third-party suppliers and eliminates lead times for essential signage.

The ability to print a comprehensive range of collaterals in-house including freestanding and hanging banners, posters, self-adhesive floor and window stickers, as well as personalised leaflets and direct mailers, can help keep customers informed about the latest services and offers. It can also be used to remind both customers and staff to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Furthermore, the same printer can be used for day-to-day documents such as personalised mortgage or loan offers.

 

A message that sticks

As the world adjusts to a new normality, OKI Europe Ltd recognises the challenges banks face when encouraging social distancing and has teamed up with Floralabels to offer free* social distancing media and artwork to create self-adhesive floor stickers that can be printed quickly and easily from an A3 colour printer such as the C800 Series.  Floor stickers can help ensure customers maintain safe distances while queuing at counters, kiosks and ATMs. The free stickers include self-adhesive floor circles (285 x 285mm) and rectangular floor banners in two sizes (215 x 900mm and 297 x 1,320 mm) with various designs and messaging options to choose from.

 

Achieving ROI with a do-it-all device

When it comes to printing in-branch, implementing a printer with unrivalled media flexibility will provide the best return-on-investment. Not only will the bank be saving on printing and delivery time and costs, it will also save on storage space or potential wastage as well as offering the flexibility to be more reactive to market trends in a timely manner.

OKI’s multi award-winning C800 Series A3 colour printer is designed to take up a minimal footprint and will supply everything from 1.3m metre hanging and freestanding banners to posters, self-adhesive floor stickers, window stickers, leaflets, flyers and much more on a diverse range of materials. Featuring OKI’s pioneering digital LED technology, the C800 Series delivers professional quality results, at high speed and on-demand.

Banks are vital to helping people and businesses prosper, supporting economic growth. Investing in cost-effective do-it-all devices that enable the fast rollout of eye-catching, professional quality collateral will help banks and their customers thrive.

 

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