Insight: Fuel Card Competition Intensifies

by Amy Hoke 0

From Bank Technology News:

Jonathan Velline, an executive vice president at Wells Fargo, likes to use the word engage in discussing the role of the branch. As banks modernize their branches and provide more self-service options such as tablets and video-equipped kiosks, they have to guard against losing the human touch, he says.

“We see in our data that teller and banker interactions increase customer engagement,” says Velline, who oversees Wells Fargo’s 12,000 ATMs and 6,000 branches. “There’s a tight correlation — if you have an engaged team in your store, they’re going to create an atmosphere that leads to better customer engagement. Our investment in technology and design is focused on the team member, making sure their technology is good.”

“Apple is not saying Apple stores are dead,” says Velline, who spoke at the Best Practices in Retail Financial Services conference last week. “They’re trying to figure out, How do we create a connected environment in which the Apple stores, the iPad apps, the website, the whole ecosystem for their customers works together. That’s what we want to build and it’s what customers demand, to make the experience they get in each channel as excellent as possible.”

There’s too much emphasis in the banking industry on cost per transaction, Velline says. “It’s important to know what your channels cost, but there’s a bunch of problems with this. First of all, these are fixed costs. Channels don’t replace channels, they add to your customers’ use of your institution. Which is a good thing — your customers using you and visiting you is not a bad thing. Managing costs is important. But customers don’t choose you because you’re good at saving costs. They choose an institution because of the service it provides.”

These views of integrated channels are consistent with recent Mercator Advisory Group research, which concludes that self-service and assisted-service solutions augment, but do not replace, branches as an important advice channel for customers and members.

This movement toward integrated channels and multi-channel (and eventually omni-channel) banking is exciting, as it promises greater efficiencies, customer interaction, customer engagement, and overall customer satisfaction.

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