The Future of Financial Empower(mint)
November 6, 2023 | 3 min read
As bankers see fewer people visiting the branch, they’re realizing they need a strategy for the digital age. The old mailers aren’t cutting it anymore, and the need for adoption of digital products is higher than ever.
Here are a five tips that can help you make the transition.
Enhancing your branches might be easier said than done, and it might not be worth the costs as traffic declines year after year. However, there are a few simple things you can do to bring your branches into the digital age.
For instance, you might purchase iPads that display interactive demo versions of your digital products and feature them in every branch. That way account holders who are hesitant about committing to your digital experience can try it out first. You might also install a few flat screen TVs that loop videos of your product offerings. The more exposure your account holders get to what you can offer them, the more familiar your products will feel. The rule here is to never let an opportunity to improve your digital relationship with your account holders pass you by.
The ideal on this front is Umpqua Bank, which features enormous interactive displays in their branches. This strategy positions Umpqua as a clear leader in digital banking. The whole bank has digital at its core and therefore feels like it was made for the 21st century.
There’s a story (perhaps apocryphal) of a Microsoft executive who stood up to address his employees at a large company meeting and realized that most of the audience was taking notes on... Apple laptops. What a sign that the company was doing something wrong!
When your own employees don’t adopt your products, you know you’re in a bad position. Do you know what mobile banking app your employees use? What financial management software? If they don’t use your products, do you know why? These are critical questions to answer if you want your employees to be advocates for your digital brand.
To improve employee adoption, include digital product training as part of the onboarding process. Offer incentives to employees who actively and consistently use your products. Employees are sometimes hesitant to disclose financial information to their employer, so they need to see benefits for signing up. If you make your digital products a deep part of your company culture, every employee will be an advocate — and that will in turn drive account holder adoption.
Consumers are bombarded with news stories about fraud and security breaches, and they need reassurance that your digital products will keep their data safe. To address these concerns, you could start with your own employees. Hold an open Q & A forum about security and make sure that everyone feels safe bringing up any concern they have.
From there, you can train your employees to address a range of security questions and include collateral prominently on your site that refutes security myths. For instance, you might show why small and medium-sized institutions are just as safe as larger institutions. Or you might illustrate why your mobile app is the safest on the market. Or you can outline why account aggregation is perfectly secure through your financial management product.
What’s most important is that you make sure 1) that your employees feel confident with the security levels of your products and 2) account holders can immediately find satisfactory answers to their security questions wherever they are.
As branch traffic declines and digital banking rises, your employees might start to feel insecure about the future of their jobs. To help them feel more positive about the future, you might want to train them on how their roles will shift in the digital age. Your expert employees could learn how to communicate via digital channels (whether that be on a blog or a video call) to better leverage their knowledge. Perhaps a knowledgeable employee could start an ongoing blog series about how to get loans in your area and promote the series through social channels. Maybe some of your tellers could take on some of your social media demands during down time. (I worked as a teller for two years while I went to college, and there was a lot of down time.)
The key here is that you not only reassure your employees that they have job security in the digital age but that you also train them on how to thrive in the digital age. The game has changed, and those who can’t keep up with shifting business practices have reason to worry. If you stand out as a clear-headed guide, you’ll give your employees the skill set they need to succeed, and they’ll thank you for it. You’ll also greatly increase your chances of generating more revenue from digital products.
Above all, it’s crucial to realize that banking has changed and it’s never going back. As Chris Skinner, author of the book Digital Bank, puts it: “We built an industry on the physical distribution of paper in a localized world, and we’re now having to get to grips with the digital distribution of data in a networked world.” For bankers, it’s not business as usual. You’ve got to keep the concept of a “digital distribution of data in a networked world” in the forefront of your mind.
This represents a core shift in culture where every decision is colored by whether it makes your digital presence stronger. As we move further into the digital age, your physical branch network will become increasingly more subservient to your digital presence. Account holders already prefer to interact with you via digital channels for almost all of their banking needs.
Embracing that change completely at the core of your bank strategy is the best way forward.
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