February 19

COVID-19 – How Automation can change attitudes and start a new era for retail banking. (pt 1)


In a post-Covid-19 economy and what that has brought about to all western
societies, banks have a mandate to deliver greater value and convenience through
customer-oriented services. Nowadays, banks need to re-invent and re-engineer
their processes and procedures not only to adapt to the new environment and
continue to enjoy the full loyalty of their customers but also to enable them to
identify and realize new streams of high value recurring revenue.
It seems that once more Automation and maybe even Artificial Intelligence can be
the catalyst in all their efforts!
With the evolution and enhancement of services offered at the ATM Channel,
consumers rarely visit the branch of any bank. Additionally, and for any non-cash
transactions, the internet has long ago stepped in offering another service
channel. To top everything up, COVID-19 was catalytic and nowadays consumers
are highly unlikely to visit a branch!
The truth is that Retail Banks faced this reality even before stay-at-home orders
shifted how consumers interact with businesses from in-person to online.
Consumers who had not yet made the switch to digital banking now have had to
learn how to conduct business online.
Most will not want to go back to using in-person services ever. In a Bloomberg
article, Harit Talwar, head of Goldman Sachs Group’s consumer banking division,
said, “More than a quarter of customers don’t plan to return to branch offices
even after it is safe to do so.”
How does that affect retails banks? To survive and even grow in the post-Covid
economy, banks have now the task to deliver greater value and convenience
through their re-invented omni-channel customer-centric services.

The way to make this happen is by focusing on and consequently learning from
customer conversations across their different channels. Whether using a chatbot,
posting to social media, or calling a contact center, retail banks can leverage the
data, even in real-time, to deliver better customer experiences.
In doing so, banks have to totally change their branches, the way these look and
function, welcome and serve customers. All non-revenue generating transactions,
transactions like cash withdrawal, cash deposit, check deposit, cash counting,
cash binding and sorting, cheque book printing, bill payment etc have to move

The branch highly trained personnel should now, after many years of efforts,
need to focus on generating revenue for the bank. Branches should no longer be
the unwanted cost-centres of their organisations. They should become the
“mirrors’ of their banks and the first-point of contact for any financial product
sale. Focus should be exerted on re-inventing the way business is concluded, and
taking into consideration today’s difficult times, particular attention should be
paid on remote service technologies like the Interactive Teller by NCR Corporation

Last April, a leading global conversational A.I. company conducted a survey of
over a thousand people to better understand consumer behavior in the
pandemic’s early days. The findings were eye-opening: nearly 80 percent of
people stated their preferred method of getting customer service was to speak
with an agent. Still, more than 33% of callers waited over 30 minutes on hold,
with 5 percent saying they waited more than 2 hours.

The same survey also showed that over 42% of respondents had called a contact
center to resolve Covid-19-related issues around travel, employment, insurance,
medical, or financial situations. The pandemic has certainly generated additional
call volume at a time when bank contact centers and their employees face
multiple challenges because of work from home requirements, compliance with
regulations, along with overloaded and outdated systems.


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