Seamless banking for a connected world

Published March 25, 2022

Changing customer expectations and an increasingly digital first culture is changing the banking industry. In a recent CBA and NCR webinar, we found out how our customers are responding and shaping the customer experience.

Our guests were:

  • Sushil Bansal, Head of Branch Technologies, U.S. Bank
  • Ingy Harraz, GM - Head of Digital Banking & Innovation, NBE (National Bank of Egypt)
  • Peter Tilton, SVP Digital, RBC

How is digital changing the traditional?

Peter: It’s important to consider the fundamental shift in the way customers are transacting. For instance, two thirds of our customers dwell time now is in the mobile app – this has increased from 3.5 mins to 8 mins through AI nudges, insights etc. As customers spend more time digitally, this means less footfall in branches, so how do we meet their expectations to self-fulfill in the digital channel and receive advice.

Sushil: We’ve seen tremendous growth in mobile, we can do everything from mobile and can also move between channels which were siloed before but are now more connected. So how can we provide a consistent experience, more interaction and history even to sister channels so if you move from DIY channels to branch, the employee can see what transaction the customer is struggling with to predict their needs.

Ingy: In 2019, we launched the concept of digital branches based on a self-service concept. The branches are fully equipped with self-service zones – ITMs, video conferencing, interactive screens and media screens so customers can serve themselves with assistance of 1 or 2 digital greeters to guide them through. Adoption is there but clients respond differently – as a national bank we target everyone, so we still have some customers who come to the branch for the simplest of transactions. Changing customer expectations and an increasingly digital first culture is changing the banking industry. In a recent CBA and NCR webinar, we found out how our customers are responding and shaping the customer experience.

How has the pandemic changed digital adoption and the branch?

Ingy: We had 2.5m customers registered for internet and mobile banking pre-pandemic. We did a lot of communication to get them engaged not only for registrations but also actively with financial transactions. Now we have 6m registered for internet and mobile services and over half are active transactors and we’re working on further utilization to achieve the strategic objectives for digital – optimizing the cost to serve.

Peter: We rolled out our digital navigator program about 7 years ago and have 7,000 navigators in branches whose role is to digitally activate customers. Due to the pandemic, we’ve reached the point where we’ve no more customers to digitally activate – we had hundreds of thousands that were branch centric, but we supported about 600,000 customers at home to help them with bill payments etc. and it’s been ridiculously successful. Now we only have 150,000 deposit account owners – of about 8 million – who aren’t digitally active.

Sushil: Branches have been a key part of our strategy, but the pandemic changed a lot. Since branches have reopened, we’ve seen a big shift in retail customers not coming back as much as commercial or SMB. Many retail customers shifted out of branches to digital, people are switched to mobile check deposits for instance. With our new account opening, we made signing up for digital credentials as part of the flow – of course we saw more digital account opening during the pandemic but now we’re seeing the percentages coming back – to around 50:50 split between branches and digital, so we still have a significant number of customers coming into branches. 

How are these dynamics impacting your branch strategy?

Sushil: We’ve started creating a consistent experience, plus ensuring more data-driven information for bankers to provide more advice. Our strategy with traffic volume leads us to our focus  on the SMB segment – how to make the branch more advice centers. Branches will move towards more self-service or with the staff using tablets to co-browse for example to support customers while they open their account.

Peter: During the pandemic we were doing 75% of our advisor appointments virtually through omni-digital assets such as ID checks, passport tap and selfies all of which advisors accessed on their desktop. And it’s settled at around 50% – that’s up from 1 or 2% pre-pandemic. This has had an important impact on NPS – increasing by up to 5 to 10 points. In my mind branches will still be a destination but we’re going to see much more blended banking.

Ingy: As part of our transformation strategy, we’ve started to blend traditional and e-service in branches. For instance, we’ve brought in instant card issuance so customers could open their account, receive and activate their card using e-service in branch. We used the pandemic to add more financial transactions to the digital channel.

What are your thoughts for the future?

Peter: The way people will switch FIs in the future will shift – we’ve developed a digital ID with other fintechs, which is now being adopted by the government, so, the way we shop, switch accounts will be profoundly different. The future of banking is around differentiation, not through digital direct, but how we tackle advice.

Ingy: The concept of open banking is a big topic but essentially customers want all their financial data in a super application. So, it will be what services or APIs FIs will be willing to share with others. I believe branches will still be here but more as service centers or education hubs and looking after corporate business and supporting more complex transactions.

Sushil: Branches will be here but we’re already seeing the shift in the role of the branch. How do we do more remotely? If cash goes then branches go – but they will shift to advice centers. Trend for more DIY – people want to take care of themselves more.

This is an edited version of a webinar hosted by Commercial Bankers Association. Watch the full webinar here.

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