The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

"Putting people back"

 Came across this article from June this year, talking about the extreme shifts we have seen away from the branch in the late 90’s, and back to the branch in this decade.

“The real lesson for the banks has been that customers value human interaction when making financial decisions that could have important consequences in their lives. Of all the additional channels, the call centre is the only one that can provide this human touch. “

Source: “Putting people back – Mozilla Firefox”

I would argue the shift to Internet and branchless was right, just 30 years early.  But there are some nice touches in this piece:

“You could even think of the call centre as a branch, except you dial it. It really isn’t all that different. There are some  supporting technologies.”

I firmly believe in the concept of the entire bank as a call centre.  This point gets lost in the back to branches tidal wave.  The majority of time spent on relationship building in the branch is actually over the phone.  Consider the typical mortgage application. 

  1. Customer will phone (or visit) for an appointment. 
  2. Customer visits for appointment
  3. Follow up information – phone, fax and email
  4. Confirm logistics such as appraiser, lawyer, documentation – all phone
  5. Appointment with lawyer – phone

The line between the branch and the call centre can then  become blurred.  Gardner says that banks are likely to take more immediate advantage of this by making more use of  expensive personnel, such as financial advisers.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

We are in the midst of a demographic and technology shift.  The answer isn’t about one thing or another.  Its about transition, and being ready for periodic sudden shifts, because the transition isn’t smooth.  A recent example was broadband which transformed internet use, promoting video.

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Written by Colin Henderson

August 26, 2006 at 02:44

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