In today’s digital world, branches should complement the digital channel, allowing customers to interact with a human advisor when facing complex or high value issues – or when getting stuck in the self-service channel.

To fulfill this role, branches need to upgrade the customer experience by empowering their branch staff to pivot from service and support functions to an advisory function. The 2016 Accenture Consumer Digital Banking Report found that 63% of survey respondents wanted to receive product/service recommendations from branches and saw great value in more personal interactions. By empowering branch staff with the proper digital tools and education, branches can provide customers higher value services that better meet their needs and desires.

In a digital transformation, banks first need to make targeted investments in mobile and digital technology that support the branch of the future. With the appropriate infrastructure in place, digitally savvy bank staff can help bank customers adopt digital behaviors and channels. Unfortunately, many of today’s branch staff lack the necessary digital knowledge and capabilities, thereby creating a bottleneck in the digital transformation. Thus, banks need to educate their branch staff on digital behaviors and capabilities, enabling staff to then advise consumers on the bank’s digital products and services to increase customer utilization of those capabilities.

By implementing these changes in branch infrastructure and staff roles, banks can enable changes in customer behavior that will transform the branch into a complementary and value additive component of the distribution chain. The branch will focus on delivering personalized customer service, promoting complementary products and services across the bank’s portfolios, providing solutions to complex questions, and serving as a back-up source for issues in the digital channels.

Imagine: walking into a branch, being greeted by a staff member who pulls up your record on his tablet after scanning your card. He accesses your account history, discovers issues with account fraud before you’ve even vocalized them, and takes the required steps to resolve them. Imagine also that he can help you turn on fraud text alerts that prevent similar inconveniences in the future. Furthermore, he has access to predictive data that allows him to offer you services tailored to your current or future needs, from information on loans for the bigger house you will need once the baby is born to advice on student lending as college approaches or assistance setting up a trust fund for your grandchildren. This is the branch of the future: innovative, seamless, convenient.

To achieve this vision, banks need to help branch staff understand their responsibilities, behaviors, and digital skills, so that the branch can evolve into a hub for advisory services. Instead of tellers, the branch will have “universal bankers” that guide customers through digital accounts, promote products and services, and provide additional services to enhance customers’ banking experiences. For branches to experience this shift, banks should consider the following:

  • Defining roles of the future and changing the profile of staff to be hired – i.e. focusing more on behavior & culture than on capabilities (similar to the Retail or Hospitality business)
  • Establish KPIs and utilize Balanced Scorecards to ensure branch staff is integrating into the new model and meeting customer expectations and to evaluate if the staff is being incented in the right way to promote behaviors that avoid product pushes and instead support customer centric advice
  • Educate branch staff on new behaviors and new methods to approach customers regarding digital
  • Establish 30 Day Team Challenges to promote digital behaviors and advisory roles and keep momentum and awareness

These initiatives will allow branch staff to take a more proactive role in both advising and servicing so that they can provide customers with a meaningful experience. By capitalizing on digitization trends and transforming the roles of their staff, branches can optimize the banks’ distribution channels. Ultimately, by enabling branch staff to become advisors, banks will foster more personal interactions and deepen the relationship with their customers.

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