The idealized community financial institution depicted in many of the stories we tell ourselves as Americans is a place where customers come in to engage with the financial institution’s employees as well as their neighbors. Customers were drawn there with the ostensible reason to take care of some routine transactions, but are really all participating in their community. This takes place all over our nation in varying degrees, and as the author of the article points out, emphasizing the human element of banking is actually enabled with the migration of routine transaction types to the mobile environment. The vacuum created by the lack of needing to visit a branch for routine activity has to be filled, and by delivering a compelling reason to visit on a regular cadence by creating an attractive environment.
As digital sales increase, banks have an opportunity to redefine the role of brick-and-mortar branches. At leading banks, branches are becoming something more than just venues for executing transactions. They’re places where employees provide personalized customer experiences with services including financial advice, problem-solving and even specifically to help customers make the transition to digital banking.
Humans, using their empathy and analytical skills, can connect with customers in ways that robots and algorithms can’t—at least for now. Front-line employees were once thought of primarily as salespeople peddling products. But they are increasingly becoming counselors who understand the complexities of everyday life and dispense advice and explain financial options accordingly.
Mercator Advisory Group anticipates the blending of digital and in-person banking, as described in the article and in our ongoing research on how banking continues to evolve for consumers, will move the role of the financial institution to act increasingly as a trusted advisor rather than a purveyor of financial products. We see creating a secure data environment for financial transactions as the foundational component for FIs to establish trust, which may in turn be nurtured through personalized financial advice and planning.
Overview by Joseph Walent, Associate Director, Customer Interactions at Mercator Advisory Group
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