When it comes to consumer satisfaction, delivering service excellence in the branch has always been easier said than done. To paraphrase 80's music legend Pat Benatar, banking is a battlefield with more land mines than ever before. This is largely due to a consumer who values the experience every bit as much as the product. Digital access is both competing with the branch and increasing consumer demand for an 'upgrade' in all aspects of omnichannel banking. Financial institutions are subsequently going to greater lengths to boost the branch experience via every means possible. This includes redesigning interior spaces to open concept so they come across as more inviting, welcoming and engaging.
Open-concept banking, by virtually all accounts, is the way of the future. However, it's added a new wrinkle in day-to-day branch management: How do you remove the physical barriers that prevented personnel from better connecting with their customers without compromising the security of a bank's cash holdings and branch equipment?
"Open-concept literally eliminates the structures preventing staff and customers from forming closer bonds."
Although it remains relatively new to banking, open-concept in retail as a whole is not. From cafes and book sellers to restaurants and department stores, open-concept literally eliminates the structures preventing staff and customers from forming closer bonds so spaces have a more free-flowing look and feel. Early adopters say the approach also cuts down on wait times by, at the very least, reducing the size of waiting lines.
Bank crime is down, but not out
However, increasing access opens the door to more opportunities for theft. In 2018, roughly 2,867 attempted thefts at financial facilities occurred at counters, according to the FBI. And that was with the counters in place! With these barriers removed, crimes of opportunity loom larger.
Melding transparency with security isn't easy, but it is possible thanks to state-of-the-art technology and strategic risk management, said Capital One Senior Manager for Enterprise Safety Michael Schmierer, one of the keynote speakers at the 2019 American Bankers Association Risk Management Conference.
"You need to be able to quantify risk and metabolize it, then put some compensating measures in to either transfer that risk somewhere else or avoid it," Schmierer explained.
Here are a few new complements to electronic security mainstays, like video and access control, that an increasing number of facilities are leveraging to maintain or improve financial institutions' protection without undermining so-called "branch-as-coffee-shop" concepts.
From Fitbits and Apple Watches to smart sunglasses and athletic gear, wearable technology has revolutionized the health and fitness world by helping people reach their wellness goals through real-time data. It's also enabled more organizations to reimagine security so they can ultimately do more with less. As referenced by the ABA Banking Journal, through remote surveillance, branches, credit unions and other FIs can now monitor virtually every corner of their offices by pairing their handheld and wearable devices with wall-mounted cameras. Many of these units meld into their environment, making them harder to detect. They also often have several built-in lenses for 360-degree viewing.
"Mobile credentials grant access into members-only locations through smartphone technology."
The ubiquity of wireless headphones shows the extent to which Bluetooth has saturated the marketplace. This technology is also leveraged for access and entry purposes. As reported by Security Magazine, mobile credentials allow customers and associates to seamlessly gain access into member-only locations by using their smartphones. These are used in lieu of physical cards to enhance flexibility, privacy and expedience. They also reduce the costs associated with having to replace cards due to wear and tear and other durability issues.
Perhaps the most futuristic of all the current electronic security options, biometric technology uses fingerprints, eye scans and facial thermography so trusted users and customers can access secure areas of a facility. Because no two fingerprints – or irises, for that matter – are alike, forged or counterfeit entry is virtually impossible.
At least in the U.S., biometric technology in banking remains in its seminal stages, but it has been used in various capacities in recent years. In 2016, for example, multinational financial services firm Citibank deployed voice biometrics authentication so customers could be recognized simply by speaking, Forbes reported. The technology uses approximately 130 various voice patterns and sequences in order to verify identities in seconds.
Meanwhile, Bank of America introduced its own biometrics verification program back in 2015 to accompany its mobile app. These included fingerprint and touch ID sign-in for in-branch and online customers.
"We continue to deliver enhancements that provide our customers a more seamless and secure banking experience," Michelle Moore, head of digital banking at Bank of America, noted at the time.
To build the engaging, open-concept branches of tomorrow, you need an innovative, outside-the-box approach – starting today. BranchServ offers truly cutting edge video surveillance, access control, alarm solutions and consulting services that can help you find the right balance between transparency and security. Please contact us to learn more.