The Point

Tablets Changing Banking – and the Branch Experience

Jan  29 
Staff Writer   

Tablets have rapidly become a popular tool for consumers to manage their finances. According to the most recent 2013 Consumer Trends Survey from Fiserv, over half of all tablet owners use their devices for online banking. Yet tablets aren't just changing consumer interactions in the self-service environment, they're becoming a mainstay in the branch as a sales and service tool, and even making inroads in helping branch staff streamline back office processes.

Financial institutions are adapting the unique attributes of tablets, including touch screen navigation, app-driven functionality, and portability, to impact everyday banking operations.

"Tablets invite a more interactive, tactile and intimate experience, at home and in the branch," said Jamie Dominguez, director of product management, Bank Solutions, Fiserv. "This new channel has the power to transform the branch, engaging consumers as never before. With branch traffic in decline, that's an especially important distinction."

The device's portability – arguably a tablet's best feature – means that bank employees are no longer tied to the teller line. Walk into a branch today, and you might find an employee using a tablet to demonstrate a new product, open a new account, or assist a customer with a transaction.

Tablets help us focus on that split second when we can fully engage with the customer sitting next to us

– Mike Ottiger, Fiserv

Tablets physically position bank staff next to customers, inviting collaboration, interaction and flexibility. Reviewing documents, watching a video presentation or obtaining electronic signatures is easier and more personal as a side-by-side, paperless encounter. For financial institutions adopting a universal agent staffing model, with employees cross-trained to serve multiple teller and customer service roles, tablets can be especially effective, helping to introduce conversations about wealth management and business banking.

The devices are also streamlining document management; giving employees 24x7 mobile access to enterprise content keeps workflow processes moving. Customer-centric document processes, such as obtaining signatures for a loan application, can be completed when convenient for the customer. Along with many other management processes and functions, the monthly board meeting can now be paperless because board members can use a tablet to review and make notes on reports.

As tablets transform what goes on inside the branch, bankers are also finding innovative uses for tablets outside the branch, including sales engagement, account opening and loan origination. Financial institution and wealth management personnel can now walk into a prospect's home or office to introduce their organization and its products − carrying only a tablet. From the beginning of the sales process to on-screen contract signing capabilities, this type of technology eliminates paper and streamlines customer onboarding and other processes, especially when the solution is connected to a financial institution's existing infrastructure.

"Rather than simply pulling a brochure from a briefcase, tablets offer a visually compelling, shoulder-to-shoulder interaction that's changing the conversation with prospects and clients," said Mike Ottiger, senior product manager, Financial & Risk Management Solutions, Fiserv. "The story we're telling is an old one – a deposit is still a deposit, after all – but tablets help us focus on that split second when we can fully engage with the customer sitting next to us."

"With fewer swings at the bat thanks to changing consumer behaviors, institutions must capitalize on every opportunity for customer engagement," said Ottiger.

Digital transactions have reduced branch foot traffic, but this trend has only made each customer visit more important. Now is the time for financial institutions to rethink every process and interaction to ultimately build a better branch.

As adoption of tablets continues to grow, consumers are increasingly expecting a first-class tablet banking experience from their financial institution, whether it's in their hands at home or being guided through a sales interaction by a branch associate.

Ironically, financial professionals, who are undoubtedly among the tablet-using public, also expect their institution to give them enterprise-ready, feature-rich tablet apps to work more efficiently and effectively.  Financial institutions that deploy tablet technology today will be well-positioned to not only satisfy and retain their customers, but also their staff.