Does your digital-first strategy include your branch staff?

Published August 12, 2021

Building digital-first experiences in the branch isn’t just for customers; it’s also for your tellers and bankers


FIs have primarily focused their efforts on providing low-friction experiences for their customers. But increasingly they’re looking at how to provide digital-first experiences for their employees as well. And while FIs reported a decline in branch traffic during 2020, footfall is starting to return.

According to a study by Celent, “Despite the fact that customers had learned to function without full branches for months, they still want to use branches,” says Robert Meara, a senior analyst at Celent. And a key focus for FIs is on using technology to make these branches more efficient and profitable while connecting the customer experience across channels.

Related: Customer experience in the digital era

What is the channel-connecting problem and how can you solve it?


The challenge FIs face is replacing decades of old processes, technologies and business rules. Out-dated branch systems are complex, costly, slow to adapt and difficult for tellers to use. But these all need to be overhauled to enable FIs to meet the digitally led expectations of today’s tech savvy users.

The first step is shifting to a cloud-first, API-driven framework for branch staff. That way, tellers can use modern devices like tablets and peripherals that can be shared—think image scanners or printers. By delivering shared services across banking channels, FIs can reduce costs and complexity and eliminate layers of technology that have built up over decades.

By simplifying their infrastructure, FIs can realize the benefits of reducing image processing and branch-based servers to lower annual costs by millions. The use of tablets frees branch staff up who are no longer tied to their desktops. And the cloud-based, API approach makes it easy to innovate, build and bring new services to market.

These teller services can be used by other channels too—including ATM/ITMs, online, mobile, contact center and back office. This gives branch staff a consistent, easy UI/UX experience that digitizes and automates more manual processes making tasks simpler, easier and faster to complete.

And they can be used across the wider banking ecosystem—from marketing and sales to advisory, account services and more.

The result of this modernization is twofold. Consumers will see more consistent, seamless interactions with their branch and across all banking channels. And you can use the same technology behind the scenes, too, so branch staff will also have a consistent and seamless experience across their own systems. What’s more, you’re prepared for the future, with the ability to easily and quickly adapt to whatever it might hold.

Don’t forget the “digital” when bridging the divide for unbanked and underbanked


Interestingly, the banking consumer of today is far more demanding than they’ve ever been before. Customer retention is no longer assumed. Consumers don’t stay with a bank provider simply because generations of their family have before. Bank switching has never been more simple and with a wealth of information at the touch of a button, substitute products and services are easily found. Proactive steps need to be taken to ensure higher rates of retention.

That’s why offering technology that mirrors other aspects of daily life is critical to nailing the customer experience. Functionality such as multi-touch display for tablet-like interactions, contactless technology for mobile pre-stage and ATM marketing for a more personalized experience will make for a more positive interaction with your brand. Not to mention that if your physical fleet is designed to attract the digital-first consumer, you empower brand recognition in even the most rural locations.

Despite cash being consumers’ preferred way to pay, digital payments are increasing in these regions, where connectivity permits. And while that growth is partially due to the adoption of contactless payments, consumers are also using their contactless cards to access cash at the ATM. It’s clear that while access to cash is critical, consumers still wish to experience the physical in a “digital” way – so, deploying solutions that are in line with the modern-day consumer is the name of the game.

Related: How the payments industry was disrupted in 2020

Not just a bridge, making access to cash is simply good for business


To mitigate the effects of digital acceleration, financial institutions must take access to cash and self-service solutions seriously. As financial inclusion and ATM security remains of key importance to local governments and consumers alike, offering self-service in rural locations will not only promote inclusion but will also empower positive brand reputation. After all, retaining loyal consumers and acquiring new ones is critical for business growth.

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