E’ possibile togliere del tutto il contatto umano ed automatizzare tutti i servizi?
I am a great fan of online banking. It is convenient, simple and gives me control to do my banking without the need to visit a bank branch. It works for nearly 90% of all of the banking activity. There are rare times that it is necessary to visit my branch to complete a transaction. These are the times when I need to have a one to one interaction with a real person.
I was interested to read the story in a recent issue of the Galway City Tribune about Bank of Ireland’s latest innovation at their Mainguard Street branch. (http://connachttribune.ie/city-bank-become-cashless-branch/ ). The ground floor of this branch will become in the bank’s language “a digital branch” with all of the transactions digitised. Their statement that all of the familiar faces will be available upstairs to deliver business as usual fails to mention that lodging or withdrawing cash is no longer one of the services available. To lodge or withdraw you need to go to a different bank branch.
My own bank has adopted a different approach. The branch remains open until 5pm as heretofore but closes the counter services at 3pm. This is done by pulling down a counter blind with a message telling customers that the counter is closed and that they must use the machines only. This bank is currently running an advertising campaign with the tag line “back to basics”.
In Canada, major banks have introduced a “Drive Thru” outlet very similar to those used by the major fast food companies. In this case the interaction is with an ATM. As day follows night, it’s a safe bet that we will see these in the major locations here. Again the purpose is to remove the personal contact and rely on a machine to deliver the service.
Call me old fashioned if you like but I cannot believe that you can remove the personal contact as totally as the commercial banks would wish to do so. I am convinced that personal banking customers will in time demand the type of personal service that they are entitled to. I do not expect that the major banks will want to respond to this need.
This of course offers a real opportunity for a new real alternative. This alternative could in my view emerge from the Credit Union movement. Credit Unions are owned by their own members and have an ethos of service. They have a real connection with their members and as soon as they are in a position to offer the full range of “digital” products I am convinced there will be a shift leaving commercial banks with a slimmed down personal banking service concentrating on the more profitable business customers.
Interesting times ahead.
AICEX Customer Experience Italian Association