While many of us in the industry have a tendency to think about financial services in terms of channels through which services are delivered, members think about financial interactions from a task-oriented perspective: They want to check their balance or make a payment or deposit.
Whether they use a PC, smartphone, tablet, call center, ATM, or branch generally is not as important to them as convenience and ease—and a successful outcome.
The ability of mobile to enable financial services at the speed of life is driving not only the adoption and use of mobile banking itself, it is transforming how members engage through other channels.
The potential of mobile to change the member experience is particularly significant in relation to the branch, both in terms of the transactions that are conducted there and the ones that are not.
The ability of mobile banking to facilitate self-service means tasks that might have once resulted in a trip to the branch can now be conducted elsewhere. The most obvious example of this is mobile check deposit, which has been well-received by consumers.
The ‘experience environment’
As fewer routine transactions occur in branches, we do not expect that members will abandon the branch.
Rather, the focus of the branch increasingly will shift to consultation, education, lending, and small business services. This underscores the need for credit unions to begin transforming the traditional branch into an experience environment.
Members, including younger consumers, show a propensity to visit branches for tasks that they perceive to be more complex, such as opening an account or applying for a loan.
In these situations, mobile can make for a more positive experience before a customer even walks through the branch door.
Using a mobile banking app, a member could log-in and request an appointment, reducing wait times at the branch and ensuring the employee with whom they are meeting is well-prepared for the visit.
Along those same lines, beacon technology, in which Bluetooth low energy is used to identify a device’s physical location, could be used to let staff know when the member arrives for the appointment.
Even when a member has not scheduled an appointment, beacon technology can ensure staff are notified as to who the member is and their preferences—even down to their beverage of choice—when they enter the branch.
Mobile empowers staff
For staff, mobile technology can serve as an educational tool when they need to explain products and services to members. Tablets or smartphones can facilitate “show and tell” or support demonstrations of services.
Shell Geismar Federal Credit Union in Gonzales, La., for example, has enabled access to its core account processing platform from tablets. This allows employees to take an entire branch on the road and significantly expand the credit union’s reach into the community.
The true significance of mobile technology lies in its potential not only as a channel in and of itself, but in its ability to transform other channels such as the branch.
Credit unions that embrace the shift in the role of the branch to an experience environment will position themselves to continue to provide high-quality personal advice that improves member’s financial well-being.
SCOTT HESS is vice president, user experience and consulting, and JAMIE DOMINGUEZ is director, strategy for retail and channels, for Fiserv.