Do Yoga mats have a place in banking

1 December 2022

Do Yoga mats have a place in banking

Think of a bank branch, and what is the image that comes to mind? For individual consumers, this is a definition that has undergone a dramatic transformation. Banking half a century ago implied almost intimidatingly formal, marble-floored places of business where bankers walked tall as moral keepers of a nation’s financial fibre. Knowledge was a one-way street, from well-informed bankers to a largely knowledge-restricted world.

Fast forward to a world with near unlimited access to information, and the concept of a bank branch and its end objectives have undergone a total transformation. Colourful yoga mats, live on-demand interactions with bankers, digital brand storytelling on feature walls, and lounge and high bar seating arrangements point to one key aspect that has changed.

The customer experience is today at the very heart of the banking process.

It’s fully about catering to customer needs, about seamlessly balancing assisted and self-service options, online services and personalised financial products. For individual customers, while certain everyday transactions have moved from an in-person model to mobile-based or self-service access, a more human, personal touch to banking remains a key differentiator in ensuring loyalty. Take SME’s, and branches are a crucial touchpoint for daily deposits and transactions. In every respect, bank branches today remain a vital link between its customer’s physical and digital financial worlds.

From a bank’s perspective, branch visits represent an opportunity to cross-sell, upsell and add a human touch to service. And this is even more so when it comes to complicated financial products like mortgages and investment packages.

A recent Ipsos study showed that 44% of those visiting a branch would be primarily motivated by advice, while 45% of consumers indicated that their family or friends were not very confident with finances, including investments, budgeting, managing debt, planning for retirement, or deciding which financial products they need.

In many ways this links back to how banks are rethinking the very idea of a branch in some parts of the world. By becoming platforms for customers to talk about their finances and to discuss niche banking products, bank branches are becoming the final destinations for customer journeys that begin online or on mobile. Given their traditional financial portfolio strengths, industry leverage and infrastructure network, banks are uniquely placed to refocus their offerings in this manner.

As bank branches make the transition from the transactional to the advisory, technology and collaborative partnerships will remain key enablers. IoT-enabled connected banking solutions can play a central part in enhancing banking process efficiencies. In the long term, the seamless interoperability and real-time data flow of IoT-enabled platforms translates to increased staff and IT productivity, and ultimately lower operational and technology costs.

The bank branch remains a critical customer touchpoint, and a key element to building customer trust. As banks refocus what a branch offers, there is a question of how communities can have continued access to everyday financial services.  This is where Shared Infrastructure will be a key differentiator. By merging their traditional strengths with innovative fintech solutions and the reach of retail outlets, banks can increase reach to individual customers and SME’s.

Take Scottish tech start-up OneBanx. Partnering with mainstream banks, OneBanx kiosks enable customers of all banks to do their everyday banking in a single, convenient community location. OneBanx’s multi-bank transaction terminals and formats can be utilised in community locations like convenience stores, libraries, pharmacies and petrol stations.

Another example would be Clip Money, which provides IoT-enabled deposit drop boxes within malls, shopping centres and large stores. Built on partnerships with multiple banks, local businesses can conveniently make their daily deposits at accessible Clip deposit drop boxes, irrespective of who they bank with.

Yet another aspect of the shared infrastructure solution would be utilising public infrastructure facilities like postal services. Postal offices globally have great reach in rural areas, and if properly utilised, can be ideal platforms for ensuring continued access to core banking services.

Bank branches are becoming more strategic tools for revenue-focused products, and banks will continue investing heavily into putting advice and guidance front and centre with branches. With banking going through a transformational change, branches remain a critical touch point in the relationship with customers. Glory’s portfolio of automation solutions for financial institutions can help strengthen customer relationships, streamline processes and enhance branch profitability. 

Read more about how Glory can help you on your bank transformation journey.

As for those yoga mats? Banks seem set to explore and roll-out new, personal and ever more entertaining ways to reach and retain end users.

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