June 22nd, 2011 By Jack Morton
Given the slow and painful demise of the print, music and television industries, one might wonder if the uber traditional business of brick and mortar banking might also be losing the battle for relevance in a mobile world. Personally, I’m betting on brick and mortar sticking around for a long while – which might sound crazy, but I think it’s simple. People don’t mess around when it comes to their money.
When I was smaller, I felt proud and secure with my nickels and dimes in my piggy bank. It was tangible, visible and secure. That feeling didn’t go away just because I got older. That’s why mobile banking isn’t going to ever completely take over the traditional brick and mortar buildings that symbolize safety, dependability and security.
Banking is one of the few industries left where people take it personally. It’s my money – the lifeblood of my existence, my hard work and long hours. It’s one of the few things that I really need someone to get right.
That being said, retail banks need to significantly scale back the physical space and personnel they use and move to smaller, more agile locations given the type of business being done in person these days. The old school, big scary building look is unnecessary and costly.
But, when I really need to get something important done, there’s still a sense of security and legitimacy that walking into a bank offers that my less than secure, often flaky app just doesn’t give me.
So what does that mean? A stronger focus on quality mobile self-service apps for sure, but retail banks need to also rededicate themselves to the customer experience in the branch, on the phone and at every touchpoint possible to retain the positive brand loyalty they want.
Mobile banking will soon become a commodity – nameless and faceless, albeit highly efficient. So what will draw customers and retain them? The human experience of the brick and mortar banks.
The average transaction amount will increase as mundane activity like deposits and check cashing go mobile – which means on-site, the stakes are higher than ever for retaining customers. Traditional, human, personal interactions will become MORE relevant, not less, in the battle for customer retention and loyalty.
Score one for bricks and mortar.