Is Application Design the key to future branch transformation success?

So, what will the branch of the future be like? There is no single answer to this question. Each bank will define its own model, depending on its DNA, its target socioeconomic segment(s), its geographical and cultural locations, and more. The change will affect the nature and function of the branch itself, and will involve integrating the bank’s customer interaction model across channels to ensure a smooth and coherent user experience in all customer segments.

The GFT booth at RBR (London).
The GFT booth at RBR (London).
At the same time, the branch should review its internal procedures, including risk assessment flows and approval of lines of credit. Traditional banks undergoing transition must take note of the fact that no FinTech or other non-traditional financial start-up would ever get a line of credit approved using traditional scoring models.

  • A recent survey* suggests as many as 45% of customers ‘expect’ to have an in-branch wait for banking services and advice. 81% believe free wifi access would benefit their experience and 75% expressed positive interest toward online appointment booking.
  • Customers also favoured instant gratification services with 84% positively responding to branches that offered immediate issue of new debit and credit cards. Similarly, 67% would prefer to remotely deposit cheques than use postal or in-branch services.
  • Assisted self-service channels satisfy the customer desire to operate independently and to interact for advice and support when needed. 51% would like more staff who can advise on products and 69% would be more confident if that advice was also accessible through human interaction on the website. Tablet access to jointly research products with branch staff would appeal to 63%.

At the GFT Digital Banking Labs in Sant Cugat (Barcelona) and Stuttgart, we have developed a working method that enables us to provide broad-based support to financial institutions during the process of defining, developing, and testing use cases for their proposed new branch models. The Lab’s methodology is designed to tackle the change through a detailed analysis of the three pillars underpinning the branch: accessibility, interaction, and space.

The impact of the changes must be analysed and monitored in order to make the appropriate adjustments that will enable financial institutions to adopt the new model quickly and smoothly; even the most gradual changes can sometimes lead to Application Design errors that require adjustment. Monitoring of these changes is supported by a new Branch Dashboard that will measure four different types of indicator:

  • Counting: measure traffic in the general environs of the branch (clients walking past the branch, entering the branch, executing transactions, …)
  • Performance: measure transactions compared with traffic
  • Feedback: measure client satisfaction after visiting the branch
  • Health: measure the accessibility of the branch, either with respect to human resources or technical devices

The process of branch adaptation means that it is highly likely the physical appearance of bank branches will change considerably, both in terms of their Application Design and the ways in which customers are served.

The role of the branch is changing, but it’s not redundant, all evidence points to a desire across segments for some human interaction and engagement for most segments, including Millennials – the key is in providing informed touch points efficiently and quickly, in an environment that reflects customer expectations more in tune with an assisted sale and self-directed experience.

*BT Global Services 2016 study

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