Banks without staff – What a sad concept. #cx

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When our company embarked on a new strategy some time ago we had intense discussions on what will happen in the service industry the coming years. What was very clear from the beginning was that the physical meeting between a customer and service provider is important and it will remain so even in the future – even if it will most likely look different than today and the journey to the meeting will change.

My colleague and friend Alistair Agnew recently shared his view on this topic having been inspired by a retail bank “vision” coming from technology vendors in the self-service industry. This blog post is inspired by Ali…

Banks without staff- now that is a sad concept. Most humans seek interaction with their fellow man, and bank at some point.

That said, I just read another “self service” product pushing article talking about how banks will look like in five years from now. A bank where computers/devices replace humans and the customers do all their transaction through machines. And so banks will close thousands of branches.

Well I’m afraid it’s not going to be like that. Even if high street banks believe they can remove all staff from branches the reality is that they will take much longer than five years to get to that point, given legacy technology platforms.

More importantly, the customer wants, and needs face to face interaction. This is not the case on all transactions. Paying in and taking out cash is simple. But when it comes to the important and larger financial decisions, then both the bank and the customer need to meet, face to face.

Even if that face to face engagement is across new forms of tele-conferencing, the need for face to face exists.

If you believe the world will be run by computers, with no face to face, then just look around you every day. People rushing to work, going shopping, using hospitals and more and more interacting in cafes, in the real world.

The truth is that if you design a new solution or channel for service, it’s exactly that, another option. Historically customers don’t drop one service channel in preference to another. They simply see them as channels of choice and use them all, but in different ways at different times.

The real focus should be on ensuring that any channel, service or solution should be customer focused and be usable, useful and if possible, enjoyable.

At the same time there is no doubt that self service has it’s place, at the same time, there will be more important branches where the face to face, more important financial transactions take place. It’s about striking the balance.

So the next five years probably looks more like this. More forms of channels for the service provider to understand and deal with. Increased competition. Customers seeking service across all channels and at the same time, face to face service when they need it.

The next five years will be about joining channels and delivering a great customer experience. That’s the challenge ahead. Joining all the channels and delivering great service.

Sven-Olof Husmark
Sven-Olof is the founder of Experify, a business consultant firm, Senior Advisor at Egain Group a pioneer in intelligent AI driven energy optimization of buildings and former CMO at Qmatic Group, a world leader in creating better customer journeys.Sven-Olof is a senior executive with demonstrated success in growing companies globally by initiating effective sales, marketing and customer service strategies.

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