Heroes of the first decade!
Many banks are only now beginning to take full advantage of the full range of self service capabilities, and the industry is still playing catch-up on such facilities as cash and cheque acceptance, coin dispensing and video banking. However, the last decade has not been without its stars, and here are some in passing! Global leadership in branch based self service has enabled many German Sparkassen (or community retail banks) to build progressively better retail environments, including fully automated units. There are around 15,700 branches of the Sparkassen in Germany.
The major ATM redevelopment programme undertaken by La Caixa in Spain through a project called ‘Punt Groc’ (yellow spot) has been an industry milestone, and includes a high quality customer relationship management system (CRM) driving sales. The bank operates nearly 8,000 ATMs handling an average of over 500,000 transactions per month, accessing more than 200 different financial and lifestyle functions. OCBC in Singapore was rightly recognised by the ATMIA for both personalising its ATMs and also harnessing the power of its customer relationship management system to ensure that the sales potential of transactions is maximised. Whilst in Brazil, Bradesco bank is now using palm recognition biometrics at over 18,000 out of its 32,000 ATMs. In summary, at the end of a busy decade, self service is now capable of taking over all the everyday transactions of a retail branch with hardware and functionality that is now generally mature and reliable.
Convergence – the next challenge
The new channels (PC, tablets, pads, books, etc) will quickly create a continuum of customer activated devices, from high function ATMs through kiosks and desktops to a growing range of portables and mobiles. Properly understanding and envisioning the future role and potential for all customer activated channels is now a strategic imperative. The branch of the future will have a multi-channel, multi-device environment and it will make increasing use of maturing technologies such as video, digital signage and recognition techniques across all customer interfaces. The attitudes of manufacturers and consumers will ensure that the new devices retain their brand and product identities. However, to the operational banker, they must become just another screen and keyboard within which can be accessed predetermined content.
From this, it follows that another urgent strategic requirement is for a coordinated approach to the development of all points at which the customer interacts with the bank electronically. In future, a central channel manager must take responsibility for ensuring that each customer terminal and interface carries a common set of images and navigation tools. Brand and promotional messages must be harmonised. And the functionality of all terminals must be researched in a rational fashion and coordinated. Lifestyle applications (including fun!) will also grow within the digital proposition. Development work may continue to be delegated to a technical silo, but the design and content of the customer interface for all customer activated terminals must be managed from one point in future. The consequences of not doing so will be an increasingly confused customer proposition and sub-optimal returns from the necessary growing channel investment!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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David Cavell advises banks around the world on the development of profitable delivery channel and branch strategies. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org