The Bank Branch of the Future: Consumers Prefer Hybrid Experiences

The Bank Branch of the Future: Consumers Prefer Hybrid Experiences

by January 13, 2022

Digital banking has been displacing many branch interactions in the move towards digital.

As consumers increasingly engage with their banks remotely and circumstances such as the pandemic as well as new digitally-focused strategies continue to play out, there are ongoing questions and serious challenges for banks in defining new models and transitioning to digital offerings.

Many customers will use self-service digital channels most of the time while others turn first towards channels where they can get human help.

The latter is still essential for certain transactions, interactions, or even as part of some activities.

Most banks are transforming to a hybrid model, but the greatest challenge remains as to how to replicate the human interaction when it comes to, for example, the explanation and understanding of contractual documents and serious financial decisions and products.

With the new hybrid banking model, the key is to find the right balance between human-mediated and digital experiences.

The evolving role of the branch network

Generally speaking, consumers do not want to visit branches to perform day-to-day transactions because they can do these activities through online banking or mobile banking.

However, they do want to go to the branch for more complex activities.

Ultimately, consumers are looking for hybrid experiences that combine digital empowerment and self service with human expertise and assistance.

It’s all about the right balance between digital and in-branch service for banking products.

For some activities, like applying for a loan or selecting retail banking services, consumers will switch between digital and in-person as they conduct research and gather information.

Hence, it’s important to ensure that these digital end-to-end tools are available both online and in-person.

When the human touch is a must

personal banking

Image via Unsplash

While customers may agree that their banks do well on the digital and self-service side, these are not key contributors to customers’ opinion of good customer experience or brand loyalty.

Especially in-person interactions help drive customer trust and reassurance that transactions are completed correctly.

When we look at the activities done in traditional channels, they are more complex in nature.

Activities like applying for a mortgage or loan, or discussing investment or retirement strategies, are activities that greatly benefit from branch staff interaction and assistance.

That’s why it’s important to inject the human element into the digital experience where it makes the most sense.

With new technologies, it’s now possible to recreate the face-to-face experience in a virtual environment.

Using video conferencing and rich collaboration capabilities like co-browsing, an in-person experience can be closely mimicked.

Additionally, simultaneously being able to review and electronically sign documents in real time can be beneficial in some of these scenarios.

These types of virtual blended or hybrid experiences help customers and bank employees adapt to the new reality where customers often prefer interacting remotely rather than in the branch.

Hybrid experiences are part of the bank branch of the future

The evolution of the traditional branch into a hybrid banking experience is a win-win for banks and customers.

It comes down to being able to meet the needs of the consumer at every point of the customer journey.

Digital technology has enabled customers to conduct self-service transactions at their convenience.

At the same time, opportunities for in-person interaction at branches is just as important an offering and is the stronger driver for building customer loyalty and developing trusted customer relationships.

Digital technology enables financial institutions to mimic traditional face-to-face interactions through video conferencing, onscreen collaboration, and e-signature.

Through these hybrid experiences, customers get the financial help they need in a fast and convenient way, no matter what type of transaction they want to complete.

At the same time, financial institutions are able to increase their flexibility and adaptability and offer a competitive customer experience.

The best solution will be different for each company, so adopting a hybrid model will allow for the greatest amount of flexibility for banks to be able to meet the needs of their customers, as well as their own goals.

Learn how SC Ventures and OneSpan have simplified document handling and signatures at Standard Chartered here