Branches – What is Their Place in the Omni-Channel World?

by Edward O'Brien 0

Global trends show that branches are no longer just for simple transactions like cash deposits and withdrawals. They are emerging as advisory centers where customers can discuss their complex financial problems with trusted experts. Banks in Western European countries, like HSBC – where cashiers are being rapidly removed from branches, are leading the charge. I believe the rest of the world will soon follow.

This logic is borne out by research. A recent survey by Capgemini indicates that most customers would prefer to go to a branch to open a new product. It is apparent that many customers would still like to see and talk to a human rather than a machine when undertaking a complicated financial transaction or purchase.

With the advance of Omni-channel, we are not far from a time when customers will be able to start a new application (such as for a loan) from the comfort of their home or office using a tablet. They will be able to video chat with contact center advisors and both would able to view the application form at the same time. There are many other ways that technology will be able to knit together user experience between channels. So where does this UX nirvana leave the branch?

With branch reconfiguration and omnichannel banking efforts occurring in many of today’s financial institutions, the fundamental role of branches is increasingly being reviewed. The interaction and advice that branches have traditionally offered is still important, and can be accomplished via multiple channels, including virtual interaction via mobile devices and revamped contact centers. Still, ongoing Mercator Advisory Group research indicate that banking customers still desire to have live, face-to-face interaction available to them, even if these methods are only used occasionally.

Overview by Ed O’Brien, Director, Banking Channels at Mercator Advisory Group

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