A Shift in Perspective: Branch Transformation in the Digital Era

A Shift in Perspective: Branch Transformation in the Digital Era

Over the past 20 years, we’ve experienced massive shifts from the Information Age and the Digital Revolution, to today’s world that is hyper-connected, social-media-driven and data-rich. We’re all becoming digital natives, with new apps and platforms that make it easier to connect, shop and manage our daily lives.

Our physical identities have quickly become one and the same with our digital identities. Businesses in every industry are being driven to change rapidly based on these new consumer behaviors. Companies must think beyond channels and understand the great necessity to enable a seamless, connected commerce experience.

Impacts of digitalization and priorities for retail bankers
Yet the daily reality is that organizations of all sizes are still trying to make sense of the vast amount of data flowing between disparate channels, networks, employees and consumers. Retail bankers in particular have been long challenged to keep up due to strict regulations, compliance and the siloed growth of their organizations over time. As channels were established separately over the years, they frequently remain functionally, technically and organizationally independent. Too often, investments in one channel are made without consideration of (and often to the detriment of) other channels.

There are two major gaps that retail bankers need to prioritize:

  1. Properly sourcing, parsing and activating on the data available to them about their consumers and their networks.
  2. Stitching together the individual channels within their network to build an ecosystem that enables seamless, connected commerce.

Another level of transformation is needed
To succeed in this new transformational shift, savvy financial institutions (FIs) are recognizing that the answers are not going to be found only in our own narrow industry. Instead, FIs should consider the innovative best practices of organizations outside the traditional retail banking environment, such as fintech startups, retailers, technology providers, sharing economy partners and other innovators.

Branches can – and should – still be the lynchpin of a successful financial institution, but they must be seamlessly connected to and ingrained with every other channel, from the ATM to mobile to the back-end systems. As an industry, we’ve got to think beyond channels and the channel mix and drill down to the roadblocks that are stopping FIs from enabling an omnichannel experience, not only for customers but for the banks themselves.

Some leading providers have already started using innovative approaches to connect with consumers and enable more interactions through multiple touchpoints. Voice assistant applications, biometrics, cardless transactions and iBeacon applications are appearing more frequently and becoming more readily accepted by consumers.

Enhancing an end-to-end consumer experience
But rather than tactically transform individual branches primarily through technology upgrades, we advise retail bankers to view their banking transformation projects through the strategic lens of experience-driven banking. It requires banks to revise their approach from top to bottom, and embrace a disruptive dynamic that combines a clear, focused strategic development plan with innovative collaborations.

We all recognize that consumers want to be free to choose the channel of their choice, to be engaged in more personalized ways, and to have their banking interactions smoothly integrated into their day-to-day activities. The opportunity for retail bankers lies not in simply letting customers choose between channels, but rather by meaningfully converging and orchestrating physical and digital capabilities to provide a superior, end-to-end customer experience that enables connected commerce.

Interested in learning more about innovations in branch transformation – or just have a question? Let’s start a conversation today.

This article originally appeared in the November issue of RBR’s Banking Automation Bulletin and has been posted to our blog with their permission.