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A New Era in Banking Technology
By Michael Noftsger, Executive Vice President, Bank Administration, Forcht Bank
More than three years ago and during our strategic planning meetings at Forcht Bank, we determined that our growth and ability to thrive would be the result of how well we operated in the digital age. As a $1 billion community bank serving both extremely rural and metropolitan areas of Kentucky, we knew that there could be different levels of acceptance to the manner in which we delivered our products and services. We also knew, however, that maintaining the status quo was not the answer. In the end, the decision was made to have the best technology, product delivery channels and the like that we could offer. Our strategic planning process continued with this determination in mind.
Over the past few years there have been many articles written about dramatically changing the retail branch. From the aesthetics to the layout, to product channels and even staffing models all have been identified as critical issues to review. When reviewing Forcht Bank’s overall retail design and strategy, we quickly turned to ITMs—interactive teller machines. Utilizing ITM’s in a branch drive-thru allows for the expansion of banking hours for your customers. This is accomplished by having a centralized teller team that covers multiple ITM locations throughout your geographic footprint. Your ITM teller staff can work a normal eight hour shift, ten hour shifts or part-time. Since ITM’s had the capacity to perform 90 percent plus of the normal transactions one might need in the drive-thru, expanding hours can change the time your customers come to the bank.
As old technologies fade away, there is constant innovation occurring in the FI space to create new products and service
How to properly market your institution in a digital world is a challenge. The youngest generations prefer to use channels reliant upon a mobile phone or tablet. Mobile usage begins to decline in percentage as the customer age increases; but overall, mobile use continues to grow in all age categories. Gone are the days where you just needed a web presence. Now, your website is your advertising and marketing face to the consumer. Is your page responsive to different device screen sizes? Is your website a vertical scroll format which lends it’s a mobile-first design? How few clicks does it take for a consumer to find what they need and/ or complete a transaction? These are just a few of the issues your digital marketing experts must face. The good news is data is available down to the click! Having a Digital Banking Manager or similar individual can be helpful in this area. This manager can have all the data at their fingertips on number of site visits, what pages the user viewed, and even how far the consumer goes to complete an application for a loan or deposit account. Links to ancillary product lines can often be used on your institutions page. Efficiency and speed are the game changers for customer acquisition and retention.
Your institutions journey in the space of high-tech and digital banking is most likely similar to ours at Forcht Bank. As old technologies fade away, there is constant innovation occurring in the FI space to create new products and service. And while innovation is occurring, some things never change. So while we all modify our websites to be responsive for tablets, smart phones and traditional desk top usage, we are still on Facebook, Twitter and pop-up ads. Print media, radio and television are still some of the most widely consumed forms of mass media. But let’s be honest–the phone book has to go, unless you need to even out a break room table. Branch consolidations will out-pace new construction, but what is built will be smaller, more efficient, and high-tech. Lastly, it is time we all update our cyber-security and fraud prevention products/services. Customers will demand these enhancements and others as they begin to understand their benefits.
It has been just a few short years since Forcht Bank really concentrated on technological advances in all areas of our strategic planning process. Most of our strategies have come with a cost, and your institution will experience the same challenge to balance needs versus wants. In the end, the cost to not adopt some of these technologies out-weighs the true out-of-pocket expense. How will the banking scene look in another few years? One that is molded by the changing digital world is the clear answer.