Mercator Perspectives

Banking Channels are Front and Center in 2013

Now that 2013 is here, this is a good time to take a moment to review some of the key trends occurring in banking channels. The trend towards increased dependence on, and importance of, banking channels continues to be a main theme for financial institutions.

As branches continue to evolve from a base for labor-intensive, transaction-based interactions to hubs for advice-based collaboration, self-service banking channels are taking on more of institutions’ heavy lifting. Financial Institutions are repositioning branches into destinations that combine elements of full-service advice with self-service or hybrid self-and full-service models to interact with customers.

Results from Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor Survey Series on Banking Channels show that financial institutions’ customers are increasingly using channels (particularly ATMs, online banking, and mobile banking) in expanded roles as part of their day-to-day banking experience. Additionally, call and contact centers are being staffed with highly trained customer sales and service representatives who are equipped to be customer advocates in a wide variety of areas.

Intelligent deposit and deposit automation ATMs are playing an integral role in branch strategy. And as manufacturers and financial institutions deploy more of these machines, customers are using them for more than basic withdrawals, and are becoming a major source of customer deposits. In fact, about a fifth of consumers in an upcoming Mercator Advisory Group Banking Channels CustomerMonitor Survey Series report cited ATM deposits as a primary reason to visit a branch in 2012.

Similarly, the proliferation of mobile devices has opened new ways for financial institutions to communicate and interact with their customers and members. There are mobile banking solutions for virtually all customers, including solutions for feature phones, smartphones, and tablets, as well as an increasing array of online banking solutions and planning tools.

As we look ahead to 2013, channels will undoubtedly continue to play an important role in institutions’ go-to-market strategy. For most financial institutions, the execution of their channel strategy will be a key factor in their operating efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately their overall profitability.

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