The rise of online and mobile banking has retail bank operations managers rethinking the role of the brick-and-mortar experience. At CES 2018, we spoke to Julie Godfrey, manager of finance solutions and innovation at Samsung Electronics America, about the future of the branch.

Advancing Innovation

According to Godfrey, the future bank branch reflects three big trends that we’ve already started to see in the retail space:

  • Equipping employees with new technology
  • Connecting with customers through personalization
  • Deploying new innovations quickly

“Wearable technology is a discrete way to communicate between employees,” said Godfrey. “[When an] employee has a hands-free experience, they can concentrate and focus on a customer.”

Beyond the Branch

What happens if a specialist isn’t at the bank the day a customer visits?

According to Godfrey, remote video conferencing ensures that associates are available wherever and whenever customers need them. The solution is secure and enables bankers to digitally share documents back and forth to easily collaborate with clients.

And as we dive further into the digital future, we will see retail convergence nearly everywhere in branch banking.

“We’re seeing banks think about who they are as a brand,” said Godfrey. “[They’re taking] the best practices of retail into banks.”

The Future of Banking — Inspired by Retail

There’s a reason banks are taking cues from the retail sector. Retail learned hard-won lessons during their own digital transformation, and banks hope to reap the rewards of their experience. Retailers learned that customers want their experience to be the same across every channel, whether in-person or online. Customers want retailers to know them, have access to their past transactions and, with that information, anticipate their needs. Banks are finding their customers want those things too.

Banks spent years perfecting digital banking technology, but often to the detriment of their branch operations. A recent report from Celent showed how shortsighted that approach has been. Customers want automation for quick transactions, yet 77 percent said they preferred a face-to-face branch visit for more in-depth topics.

The report revealed how important positive branch interactions are to customers. When asked what sort of branch experience would prompt them to switch banks, customers responded with banking associates not equipped to help them (68 percent), long wait times (55 percent), and impersonal service that shows the bank doesn’t know them or what they need (49 percent).

When banking customers imagine the future of banking, what do they hope for? Celent found that customers wanted to be personally greeted by name and for the banker to be prepared for their arrival (62 percent). They wanted video teller machines that offered extended hours and faster transactions and worked like ATMs, but where tellers could offer help over video if needed (59 percent). They also wanted mobile check-in so they’d know current wait times and could compare wait times at other branches (55 percent).

To match that customer vision, banks will need to invest in technology, like wearables and tablets, to enable bank branch transformation, as well as employee training for that technology, to deliver truly exceptional customer experiences.

Read our in-depth white paper on digital transformation in retail banking.