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The Branch: A Retail Bank’s Secret Sauce to Success

So This Guy Walks into a Branch…

I like to think of myself as a tech-savvy consumer, and that includes my banking habits. That means that I rarely step across the threshold of my bank’s branch, since most of what I need can be accessed online, or via my bank’s mobile app.

However, when it comes to complex interactions and larger spending decisions, I still prefer my local branch. What’s more, I have repeatedly gone back to the same bank as we have added new investments, even when they didn’t offer the best rate. Why? Because I value their expert advice, their understanding of my history, and, most importantly, their ability to see the whole picture — rather than just an isolated transaction.

Bank Customers Want It All

In this sense, I am not alone. The digitalization of banking has transformed customer expectations and behavior. Advances in technology have allowed customers like me to manage our own accounts remotely, from any place at any time. Yet for the more complex transactions, we still prefer personal interactions at our local branches.

Ian's blogAn annual survey of 1,000 U.S. adults for American Bankers Association (ABA) by Ipsos Public Affairs, in August, 2014 found that consumers are embracing mobile banking in ever-increasing numbers. However, in-person branch visits are still popular with many customers. Preference for branch banking had increased year over year from 2013, from 18 percent to 21 percent, and 89 percent of customers who come to the branch required advice for complex financial products.

Today’s customers expect the best of both worlds: the convenience and easy access to online banking, along with the expert advice and personal guidance from their local branch. In short, they expect a blending of the physical and virtual, a value proposition that online-only banks cannot match. Read More »

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Digital Payments Lack the Framework for Success…And That Needs To Change

Co-authored with Mark Kovarski

In an era of constant technological evolution, our utilization of different technologies, including mobile devices, has had massive impact on the financial services industry. As a result, the industry is facing major disruption as new technology translates into new ways of exchanging value (money). In fact, digital payment concepts are constantly developing, with technology advances changing the payment universe as we know it. Disruptive innovations, such as Apple Pay, continue to gain scaled acceptance globally. Contactless payment solutions could take us a step further towards getting rid of the security and convenience shortfalls of traditional credit and debit cards, but it’s important that a capable, secure network is put in place before digital payments can truly flourish.

The Changing Payments Landscape

The first official currency was introduced in Turkey in 600vBC and, around 1661 AD, coins evolved into bank notes. In 1946, the first credit card was introduced and since the start of this century technology advances have disrupted the world of money more than once. In 1999, European banks started offering mobile banking while in 2008, contactless payment cards were issued in the UK for the first time. Now, driven by mobile and Internet technologies, we are in the early stages of fundamentally changing how we perceive the concept of money. Financial control is no longer only in the hands of the financial industry. Today, entrepreneurial minds are connecting us to our (and others) money in new and innovative ways.

Smartphones and tablets have recently become common devices with 79.4 million U.S. consumers who shop online. According to (source) 51% of U.S. digital buyers are expected to make purchases using a mobile device. New services like Apple Pay and mobile payments (M-payments) are becoming increasingly common in financial services. The questions we must begin to consider are, who will be the key providers in the financial services market in the future and what sort of payment ecosystem will emerge? Read More »

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How Banks Can Capture New Customers by Adopting a Digital Strategy for Mortgage Lending

Banks are experiencing market disruptors attacking from many angles. They’re facing competition not only within the financial services industry, but also from non-traditional banking institutions that are delivering new mortgage lending models and innovative digital services that provide the convenience and personalization consumers want. Unless banks adopt these new models as well, they risk losing customers and revenue to competitors and emerging market disruptors. In this blog, I’ll focus on how banks can implement a digital branch strategy for mortgage lending that enables them to deliver greater value to their customers, improve productivity among their advisors and even increase profitability.

In mortgage lending today, there are common “gaps” where consumers are most likely to abandon the process or go to a competitor. From the consumer’s perspective, acquiring a mortgage is likely the biggest purchase they will ever make. They spend time researching it, getting their finances in order and gathering the necessary documentation. If the consumer visits a bank branch wanting to apply for a mortgage, only to be told that the mortgage specialist is not available right now or to make an appointment for next week, they are likely to walk across the street to a competitor and not come back. Banks are seeing “leakage” in the mortgage lending process as high as 70% in these scenarios. Once a customer has left, only 30% are likely to return. Read More »

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Making the Branch Core to Omnichannel, and a Hub for Financial Expertise

I recently returned from a Financial Services Summit event in China, where I discussed trends in an omnichannel delivery strategy with an audience from 30 banks. A central part of my discussion was the notion that things are not changing, they’ve already changed. Consumers across the globe have a heavy appetite for digital services.

Digital consumers across all age groups are adopting new digital behaviors at a faster pace. For example, it took one European bank 10 years to have 20 million hits per month on their website, but when they introduced their new mobile banking app, it only took 1.5 years to reach 20 million hits per month.

In a recent Internet of Everything (IoE) in Financial Services consumer study conducted by Cisco across 12 countries, we saw that in China, there is a high interest for alternative banking solutions. However, this same group of respondents (72 percent) put the branch as their first preference for opening up an account. We saw similarly high scores across Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico. The U.S. consumers came in at 60 percent.

So, what does this tell us? For one, it tells us that we need to not only evolve our mobile strategy but also see the branch as a valuable asset that is complementary to mobile and still core to any omnichannel banking delivery model.

Yes, the branch still matters. From opening up an account, to applying for a car loan or even a mortgage, there is an educational and personal interaction component to that journey. Consumers often feel that they are not fully equipped to make decisions about financial products and services alone and often seek advice and guidance from a trusted banking specialist. Read More »

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Make Collaboration a Key Part of Your Litigation and Claims Handling Strategy

For those of us who have been in this industry awhile, the Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance market continues to be plagued by inefficiencies in claims handling and litigation management. Adjusters assigned to manage the claim are geographically dispersed, have varying degrees of expertise about the loss event, and handle multiple claims simultaneously. Disparate legacy systems still exist, and silos are prevalent between business, technology, and lines of business. This can result in wasted time and compromised claim performance.

Industry leading insurers should consider applying unified communications and collaboration technologies to lower claim expenses, while transforming the entire claims process into a seamless experience for all parties involved. Insurers continue to be challenged with diverse collaboration methods, especially for long-tail, complex claims in litigation, frequently with high monetary exposure potential and multiple collateral sources involved. A well-defined collaboration strategy can benefit customers, self-insureds, defense law firms handling insurer claims in litigation, agents, brokers, third-party administrators, government entities, court systems and reinsurers. Read More »

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