Interview: Digitisation of the Bank Branch

T.C. Seow

What fundamentals must be in place before banks even consider going for digital branches?

We strongly believe in an end-to-end, process-driven approach. We can't otherwise have a seamless process solution. Staff education on how to use touch-screen commands and menus only is not sufficient. Banks must invest in staff training, and consider staff as an asset. Staff is a fundamental issue, followed by process-driven software, and customer education.

Also, in our survey around customer expectation, we still see customer ticking branch location as one of the top three reasons to visit a bank. Convenience to visiting a branch is still a top priority. Online is generally one of the top three priorities.

Mobile e-commerce has been touted as the way to go for raising productivity and enhancing customer experiences, but are we making good strides in ensuring secured transactions and protection of data privacy? Where should banks strengthen their security measures?

We are making good strides in mobile e-commerce. Mobile banking solutions are pretty good on security and data privacy protection. Security measures and features are pretty extensive in current software solutions. But one big weakness is customer education. As we get to more activities happening over mobile channels, that increases the security requirements as well.

Customer relationship management ultimately boils down to ensuring customer satisfaction. How can the digital branch help when there are no or few personnel at the counter?

Customer satisfaction and experience is all about customer confidence, not just about being able to offer simple and safe transaction. For example, a branch solution could be some sort of CRM solution.

By extending that solution to run on tablets, and get into public area to interact one-on-one with bank staff, even sitting side by side with customer, that's one way to up-sell and cross-sell. There could be desktop or tablet devices at the branch that make the "look and feel" of the apps very much like the Internet banking solution customers are familiar with—that they're accessing the same system as the bank staff does. This increases confidence for both parties, trust instilling in fact, which is a real plus for customer relationship management.

In Middle East, the same tablet app can be used to issue RFID and ATM cards. In fact, the tablet device can automatically sense and identify the right customer and pull up the right information, case file, captured issues via online banking, etc. Such proactive engagement and interaction can start off on a great footing for both the bank and customer.

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