By Tim Klatt
If yours is a bank rooted in tradition, you’ve probably spent decades building your customer base and establishing your business and brand within your community. You know your community, and it knows you. Though tradition can and should be a core part of your financial institution’s identity, it can threaten forward progress if it leads to a “status quo” way of thinking.
Change is inevitable, especially in the financial industry. Today, we’re seeing new technology enter the industry at such a rapid pace that failure to evolve is threatening institutions’ futures. Embracing technology is a necessity, but when the team at La Macchia Group talks technology with a bank executive, there are usually a few themes that come up. Here are a few myths we’re going to bust:
- Technology will threaten my bank’s traditional brand: Whether or not your brand is working for you is a whole different topic to tackle, but assuming it is – technology should enhance and be integrated into your brand. Through intentional design, technology can be crafted to enhance your brand and your tradition. Technology should never feel like an after-the-fact add on. Integrating technology through your physical locations and digital platforms allows you to make smarter business decisions and affords you the flexibility to grow and compete with market disruptors.
- My customers might not like it: This is partially true. Your customers might react positively or negatively. But you don’t have to guess about your customers’ reactions – in fact, any changes you make should be based on feedback from your customers and community. The best way to strategically integrate technology is to do the proper due diligence of understanding your market, the needs of your branch and your customer demographics. Technology integration for a branch that largely serves commercial customers will look very different from integration for a branch that largely serves personal accounts. By studying demographic information, assessing your competitors and asking your existing customers, you can take the guesswork out of it. Doing so will ensure any technology you incorporate will enhance your customers’ user financial experience.
- It will replace my devoted employees: Technology increases efficiency, this is true. But it doesn’t have to be at the cost of your employees. Technology can support your staff, making them better and more efficient. It doesn’t have to replace the personal touch of banking; in fact, when done right you can be both high-touch and high-tech. Technology can often free up an employee’s capacity, allowing them to assist customers in more hands-on, consultative ways.
- Technology is “one size fits all,” and it doesn’t fit me: This is perhaps the most challenging myth to overcome. For some reason, iPads and flat screen TVs have become synonymous with “technology,” and yes, they can be part of a solution in some cases. But each individual branch must have its own approach to technology based on its needs, the customers it serves and the goals of leadership. It must be thoughtful and impactful, and it must complement and enhance the bank’s brand, not take away or distract from it.
It’s a critical time in the financial industry. More than ever, banks are competing against market disrupters for customers’ attention and engagement. It’s the right time to be considering smart, efficient and effective ways to drive growth. Technology integration and enhancement is the right place to start.
Tim Klatt is director of retail strategies at La Macchia Group and specializes in developing strategic retail deployments including branch network planning and technology integration. Tim has developed large scale deployment strategies for national and regional retail, restaurant and financial clients and has completed countless market analyses that have led to successful strategic plans for his clients. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.