THE BLOG

Banks are Following Customers Away from the 9 to 5

29/01/2015 15:32 GMT | Updated 31/03/2015 10:59 BST

As a result of the ever-evolving, rapid advances in video and mobile technology, two new banking services were launched in the UK at the end of 2014 that that will further disrupt the way people carry out their everyday financial activities.

Scheduled to be widely available to customers this year, the first of these innovations is a video banking service, providing digital face-to-face customer service from their smartphone, tablet or computer. The second service is a system that allows people to pay in a cheque by taking a photo of it on their smartphone, similar to imaging projects already established in the US, France and parts of Asia.

The introduction of these two technologies demonstrates an important trend in the banking and financial services industry addressing a new type of customer: one who expects more convenience, more choice and more availability both in a secure and rapid manner: this digital-first approach is now resulting in a further shift in focus by the banks to the customer and is further enriching the customer experience whilst at the same time streamlining costs and efficiency. This shift also strengthens the digital-first relationship with the customer. Banks are evolving the way they think to match their customers' banking behaviours relative to the specific customer context. This is based on behavioural and financial patterns and customers' lifestyles, which no longer evolve around the traditional working day. Technology is enabling simpler customer experiences, allowing customers to interact relatively seamlessly with their banks across multiple touch points on their own terms, rather than via traditional methods.

Specifically in the case of video banking, customers can get personal service on demand at any time of the day, replacing the need for customers to visit the bank during a branch's opening hours, which may be inconvenient--in order to have a face-to-face conversation. The new service allows them to do so at any hour, on any day of the week. This process is termed self-service and does not require people to get in touch with the bank for straightforward transactions like changes in the home address. It only becomes more complicated for important transactions that require interaction with the bank, for example where customers would like a financial advisory service.

Part of this trend embraces the evolving ways in which we use mobile devices, which are becoming more sophisticated as well as joined-up. Most businesses are well aware that mobile is changing how consumers and businesses operate, but perhaps not all will be prepared for just how fast the market is being disrupted. While some may expect the use of technology in retail banking to remove the personal element from transactions, such innovations demonstrate, for specific transactions, that technology can still deliver a personal service, while making it even more convenient for customers to use to fit around their lifestyles. Effectively, this provides greater opportunities for banks to create a new level of involvement with their customers.

As all banks continue to navigate through today's digital era and innovate to keep up with customer demands, robust security remains vital in order to meet the industry's strict compliance guidelines and retain the confidence of their customers. In a world where even major corporations have been subject to hacking, it is crucial for any organisation to put significant time and resources into security. It will take time for any institution that may fall victim to attacks to rebuild customer trust and confidence.

In order for banks to remain competitive, it is important they continue to adapt quickly to the digital era, to evolving technology, their customers' needs and adopt a digital-first strategy, rather than seeing it as simply an additional channel with which to interact with customers. By banks becoming more efficient, the resultant benefit will be in funds being freed from daily processing tasks, which can be automated, and reinvested in innovation. Running things differently at the customer end by recognising the potential that technology offers will lead to a more convenient and ever more personalised service, enriching customer experience and creating loyalty.