Retail banks need to be all things to all people. American consumers look to banks for a variety of money management services, whether they be personal loans, mortgages, credit cards, investments, bill pay, checking or cash from automated teller machines. And despite the emergence of non-bank 'substitutes', including the most recent prospective entry Amazon, banks continue to a critical piece of America's infrastructure.
As consumers grow increasingly sophisticated, their demands increase, and bank branches are under pressure to perform as a one-stop shop. On the flip-side, those same institutions are consolidating vendors and focusing on vendors that have an expansive portfolio of solutions that can meet their needs, including security, branch design, ATMs and more. All this is with the intent of maximizing that end-customer experience. For bank branches, this translates to pressure to find multiple "single source" vendors in order to spread their risk while ensuring that the vendors they do select have the ability to support the total bank.
But with such a diversity of branch needs, and so many products that fill those needs, it can be hard to find the thread that unites it all. Given the increasing complexity and the need to manage both brick and mortar operations alongside digital initiatives, finding a vendor that understands and delivers on the promise of being all things to everyone is easier said than done. But there's one thing that virtually every banking customer – as well as branches – look for: A strategic partner that understands their needs and has everything they could possibly want in-house.
Omnichannel: Going where the people are
Branches are in the customer service and experience business, and this is what ultimately drives their vendor sourcing decisions. Nearly three-quarters of bank operations professionals point to improving customer experience as their top strategic business-related priority, according to a recent study from Accenture. Omnichannel optimization is key to this effort. Why? Roughly two-thirds of Americans utilize online banking at least once per week, based on separate analysis also conducted by Accenture. Among young people – specifically Generation Z, who range between 18 and 21 years old – 70 percent bank via mobile technology.
The convenience and speed of online banking largely explains its popularity, making it poised to become even more widely adopted well into the future. As recently as 2013, more than half of adults – 51 percent – banked online, according to survey data from the Pew Research Center. Yet while digital is on the ascent, branches cannot afford to turn their back on the brick and mortar, white glove experience.
Ready for the surprise? The in-branch experience is important to Gen Z
Despite online access, Americans still visit their local bank branches on a regular basis. Indeed, 20 percent of consumers in the Accenture survey acknowledged stopping by the branches they had accounts with at least weekly, including 23 percent of Generation Zers.
Michael Abbott, managing director at Accenture Financial Services, indicated young people, in particular, stop by branches as frequently as they do because of their daily needs and interactions.
"For college-age consumers whose first jobs tend to be cash-based, branch usage is more a necessity than a choice," Abbott explained. "Clearly, Gen Z consumers prefer to manage their money on mobile devices, but they still need branches to digitize their earnings."
In other words, today's consumers aim for all-in-one shopping, seeking out as many channels as possible to have better control of their money management.
Automation as the driver of innovation – and white glove service
Business owners – both in the banking sector and elsewhere – have gone about delivering quality, high-speed services via automation. Embracing automation has become so important a component of business functions, more than 90 percent of IT professionals believe those that fail to fully embrace the technology will die off within the next decade, based on polling done by software solutions firm BMC.
Branches and other financial institutions are particularly well suited for automation, and many are already implementing this. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, roughly 30 percent of the work done at banks can be automated. This allows banking staff to devote more of their energies toward tasks that require customization and customer interaction, the kind of high-touch, relationship-forward service that automation can't replicate.
From cash automation to asset protection, the importance of branch operational efficiencies can't be overemphasized. Therefore, banks are compelled to select vendors that support those objectives. BranchServ is an all-in-one vendor that makes operational expediency and customer satisfaction not only possible, but one and the same. Whether financial institutions are seeking automation solutions, physical security or high performance electronics, BranchServ has the equipment and intelligent systems to keep a branch functioning like a well-oiled machine.