a year ago

A look of what bank branch looks like in future

An interior of a bank branch in Dhaka. 	—FE  Photo
An interior of a bank branch in Dhaka. —FE Photo

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A new age dawns in banking. Technology is transforming every aspect of human life, including how one interacts with banks. Customers are becoming more accustomed to technological innovations, and the importance of online banking has gained more ground than doing banking by physically going to branches. As banks evolve to be more digitally friendly, banks are likely to give a new structure to their branches.

 Bank-branch representatives now know people's preferences, spending habits, and long-term plans. As we become more digitised, they will be able to tailor their conversations to fit in the customers' banking needs.

Customer experience is likely to be the most important aspect of future banking business. So, what customer experience at a bank branch may look like in the future? Let us look to retail and hospitality businesses for inspiration. If we visit a Distinctive Select hotel, we may find that a typical bank branch does not match up to the same experience. Hotels are way closer to the customers' hearts. Banking may not be a hospitality industry, but, maybe, they have something to learn about customer habits from the hospitality and airline industry.

It is important to understand how people want to interact with their banks. Customers in the 2020s have heightened expectations for their banking experience. In this digital world, they expect to interact with companies based on their preferences, which is true for their banking experiences. Banks may attract and retain customers by providing tailored customer service and marketing.

Banks may also think about incorporating self-service technologies in their branches. Banks are seen making a transition from traditional branch models to entirely digital modes. Some follow the disruption strategy, allowing only digital customers to access their branches. Others are following an evolution strategy, which requires them to meet the needs of all their customer segments while maintaining the relationship with their branch customers. Some are trying a hybrid model.

Digitised bank branches can offer a unique customer experience and a personalised experience. It may have videoconferencing screens, tablets, and monitors for customers to use. The technology should allow bank customers to conduct transactions without using their traditional bank cards. The technology should also be capable of identifying customers without using their identity documents. This way, bank employees can focus on customer-facing activities, such as sales and direct selling.

While larger banking branches tend to have bigger and more specialised service desks, smaller booth-size self-service areas are gaining popularity in many countries. These new design concepts may have many benefits, including lower costs, increased accessibility to customers, and increased self-service opportunities. Small self-service areas can also be incorporated into a branch without any closing hours, and many banks in many countries are already taking advantage of them.

Self-service includes an increase in screens, computers, and video walls. Banks are increasingly investing in technology, including digital screens for financial education. Digital service terminals may assist customers with their statements, transfer cash, and sign up for credit cards. Customers will love this. These small self-service areas may help banks improve their overall efficiency. These services may become most convenient for consumers in the fast-moving world.

Banks may think about embracing multigenerational staffing in a branch. A bank may benefit from bringing together employees of different generations or age groups and genders and learning more about their customers' individual needs.

We are likely to become more socio-economically inclusive by creating access for women, persons with disability and transgender people to the finance industry. Therefore, diversity in the human resource may be very important in the future.

Managing a diverse workplace should not be very difficult--the model does exist in all the countries. It would require a top-down approach. Managers must recognise and appreciate staff diversity, set clear standards and gauge their readiness for change. Understanding the needs and wants of each generation helps managers empathise with their employees and fosters trust and confidence.

Understanding customer needs encourages staff members to do their best work. By recognising this diversity, a bank branch can engage a great workforce and achieve greater efficiency and customer satisfaction.

In a world of rapid digitisation, a bank's location in the future should be a strategic one and be designed to be welcoming and comfortable for its customers. The location creates access.

Several recent surveys show that consumers value personal relationships and increasingly choose to bank at a bank branch outside major cities. Many banks are stepping outside their traditional downtown areas and building branches or sub-branches in areas where customers are most likely to go. These efforts are crucial to reaching specific demographics, such as seniors and small businesses.

The bank branches we go to today may not be the same at the end of this decade. Many banks may abolish them, cater to the customers' evolving needs and become hybrid, and in the 2030s, branches may become extinct.


Ekram Kabir is a storyteller and a communications professional.

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