How to Automate Your Branch Without Alienating the Customer

How to Automate Your Branch (1)

As banks face rising costs and less engagement within their branch locations, many are choosing to automate and eliminate paid possessions in order to cut costs and remain profitable. Yet there’s one potential downside of branch automation, and that is the fact that it can alienate customers. For the branch that needs to automate, these strategies will help limit the risk that the automation will turn to alienation.

Combining Teller and Sales Services

Automation can remove the job of the teller in many aspects. Customers can use the ATM to retrieve cash and even deposit checks electronically. In order to save money and continue to automate the bank’s processes, while still providing the customer with an in­person experience when it is wanted, many banks have chosen to combine the teller and the sales professional into one.

By equipping the sales professional with teller abilities and responsibilities, and allowing this professional to roam the bank rather than staying locked in an office, banks can connect with customers and, potentially, make more sales. This phenomenon, which is sometimes called “pod banking,” keeps a friendly face on the bank branch as the sales professionals greet the customer face­to­-face. It also eliminates the need for teller stations at branches.

Of course, the sales professionals who are taking on these new roles need automation to perform them well. Cash recyclers can eliminate the need to count back cash, balance teller drawers and reconcile cash, which can eat up significant amounts of time. With the right tools, these bankers can spend less than 10 minutes to perform tasks that traditionally took tellers hours, all without sacrificing the quality of the customer experience.

Going Paperless Without Sacrificing Customer Security

Another way that automation can be embraced by branches is through paperless banking. However, in order to keep customers, the bank needs to offer some form of digital record that is convenient and accessible to the customer. Emailed copies of forms, digital signatures on signature pads or even the customer’s own smartphone and online account opening options keep customers secure while eliminating the cost and time required to manage paperwork.

Automate Without Sacrificing Relationship

One of the fastest ways to alienate a customer is to fail to build a relationship with that customer. Prevent this problem by retaining the in ­person communication at the branch whenever possible, even while automating to save time on the backend. When customers come to the branch, no matter how automated it is, they need to be greeted with a friendly face.

Embracing Innovation That Makes the Customer’s Life Easier

What banking products are no longer in vogue? Can automation improve the popularity of these products? In some cases, yes. Consider the traveler’s check, as an example. Traveler’s checks are becoming less valuable as an option because of the time it takes to order and collect them. How can automation make this easier? Some banks have embraced a format that handles traveler’s checks electronically up until mailing the actual paper checks to the client. Digital records, digital ordering and even digital deductions from the customer’s account make the process more streamlined and easier for the customer.

Traveler’s checks are just one example, but this trend shows how banks must choose automation innovations that are strategic and helpful to the customer will help banks automate without alienating their customers. This requires a clear understanding of the bank’s customer base and what they need. Once this understanding is acquired, the bank can make wise choices about how to move forward with automation.

The key in each of these strategies is keeping the customer’s needs and desires in mind. By doing so, the
modern bank will be able to automate and save money while retaining their customers at the same time.