How Can The #NextGenBranch Improve Customer Experience and Optimise Branch Management?
The financial services sector is likely to see more and more banks closing branches because of the reduction in customers using legacy banking channels, cost pressures, reduced footfall, as well as the emergence of digital-only services. As highlighted by the RBR’s Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2026 report, this trend was also experienced across all Western Europe, reporting at end-2020 a decrease of 1% from end-2019 in the number of branches, amounting to 14,248.
In line with this trend, Belgium reported a reduction of branches in recent years. 462 closed during 2020 to reach 4.230 (a decrease of 10% on the 2019 figure), and it is predicted to continue falling, reaching a total of 3,100 branches by the end of 2026.
However, even though closing branches is considered a way to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, this solution could damage customer loyalty and business reputation. Especially because for many people, as well as for several services, a physical presence in the branch is still essential.
Banks will need to completely review their branch strategies and embark on new branch transformation programs to respond to new customers requirements and ensure branch management costs are profitable.
Maintaining access to cash and banking services for all communities, from inner cities to the most rural areas, remains a critical feature to guarantee. Bank branch networks must therefore consider new ways to engage with customers, who will increasingly be seeking personalised customer service and valuing human interaction more fervently than ever before.
THE #NEXTGENBRANCH: MEET THE BRANCH OF THE FUTURE
Banks should hence be more imaginative when building the next generation branch network. It should be sustainable, profitable, flexible and technologically advanced. Therefore, a reduction in real estate investment should be balanced by increased investments in technology and automation to deliver a new lean model branch, for both retail and business customers. This should be not only remote but also, and above all, evolved.
To address these needs, Auriga has developed its #NextGenBranch proposition to encourage the development of a state-of-the-art, lean, customer-focused, and remotely supported digital branch. It can provide 24/7 access to banking services by leveraging advanced assisted self-service and new technologies, including video banking, AI and branch automation solutions.
The #NextGenBranch model is based on using smart digital self-service banking inside the branch to ensure increased efficiency, as customers can be served remotely, even outside opening hours. Banks can improve the banking experience for customers, reduce the cost of running a branch by up to 40% and manage costs by spending IT budget on solutions entirely independent of the hardware used that can streamline all channels together.
This way, customer information is shared and available on each one, allowing banks to create one source of truth for each customer and track the complete customer journey. When a customer enters a #NextGenBranch, staff can very quickly and easily access their personal information on a device, including what products and services they use and what questions they have previously asked. This provides banks with the opportunity to offer new, relevant services and even upsell, enhancing the level of customer service.
BANCA CARIGE AND THE FIRST DIGITAL BRANCHES POWERED BY AURIGA’S TECHNOLOGIES
Banca Carige, the Italian retail bank with over 480 branches all over Italy, has decided to embrace the challenges of digitisation and turn them into an opportunity for modernisation. The first Carige Smart Branches were launched based on this, it used Auriga’s #NextGenBranch digital self-service solutions, including secure, integrated video banking in-branches.
In order to deal with all the main challenges banks are facing (such as a growing revenue pressure, low profitability, tighter regulation, new disruptive technologies and an increasing competition from new digital entrants) the Banca Carige’s Strategic Plan has defined a profound transformation program for banks.
The Carige Smart Branch project is one of the key initiatives to support this plan. The idea is to create a set of digitised branches that operate in parallel to the traditional network and integrate a physical experience with digital tools.
Each of the new smart branches is equipped with intelligent technologies that allow customers to access all the bank's services in self-service mode or to interact in specific areas with the bank’s consultants via video assistance in a secure way. To guide customers inside the digital branch, staff perform “Meeter” and “Greeter” roles to welcome and help users familiarise themselves with digital devices and authenticate them.
With the Smart branches, Banca Carige can raise the branch’s profitability by reducing operating costs, providing high-quality services to clients, optimising personnel distribution, and redeploying staff on more valuable activities, such as sales and advisory services.
The intelligent branches are equipped with the latest Auriga #NextGenBranch solutions that offer integrated customer-facing services across all banking channels, including self-service and assisted self-service terminals. The latter allows customers to carry out all the operations of traditional branches and to receive assistance from remote operators. Outside the branches, multifunctional ATMs provide (in self-service mode) a wide range of banking operations that are always available - including card or mobile withdrawals, wire transfers, cash and cheque deposits, tax, and bill payments.
Moreover, thanks to the Auriga Bank4Me solution, private consultation areas are equipped with assisted self-service counters, tablets, and monitors to allow customers to access services (including consultancy and sales) independently or via remote assistance. The integration of the biometric signature at the access station allows Banca Carige’s consultants to provide advice and assistance securely, even remotely, on a wide range of banking, financial, and insurance products.
In this way, with the support of Auriga technologies., Banca Carige manages to boost the digital transformation of the bank and customer relationships while preserving its physical points, maintaining local roots, and optimising management costs. This can be accomplished without neglecting the need to accompany customers and educate them in the skills and abilities necessary for future banking.
We, at Auriga are proud to accompany Banca Carige in this smart branch model of the future, which combines the best of digitalisation with the addition of experience and warmth of the human component. It is both simple and accessible for anyone, whatever their technological skills and financial needs at any given time.