The next round of bank transformation projects should be 'bionic'

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Banks that pull off the trick of augmenting human interactions with smart digital tools can expect to generate increased revenue while cutting costs significantly, according to a new study of global banking markets by the Boston Consulting Group.

Consumer research conducted by BCG for its annual Global Retail Banking report, found that 43% of respondents favoured a mix of physical and virtual interactions — in which digital tools and capabilities combine with human input and advice at the moments that matter.

More than half of all customers surveyed in China, Colombia, Italy, Russia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States said they prefer this type of hybrid banking relationship. No matter their favorite channel, banking customers indicated that they want advisors to have relevant data at their fingertips and digital processes that support a convenient, responsive, and customised experience.

At the branch level, the one-size fits all approach has to be abandoned. Instead banks should churn through behavioral and locational data to create a variety of branch formats and equip staff with the right digital and analytic tools to provide customers with a personalised and well-rounded multichannel experience.

Says the consultancy: “Our research shows that banks that move to this type of network can see revenue gains of 5% to 15%, network cost reductions of 15% to 35%, and increases in customer satisfaction of 10% to 15%.”

More effective value-based pricing, pitching products to consumers that match their needs and providing a fair price – by understanding what customers value most and aligning product and service components accordingly – could allow banks to add as much as 15% in revenue over 6 to 12 months, while improving customer impact, believes the consultancy.

And while banks may have upped their game in the provision of sleeker front-ends and user-friendly apps, silo-based thinking and operational log-jams mean that most are struggling to convert that traffic into increased sales and efficiency.

The consultancy says that compared with traditional banks, all-digital banks support twice as many new-account openings per operations FTE (full-time equivalents) and serve 155% more customers per operations FTE.

“To truly be customer led, retail banks need to approach process design in a fundamentally different way,” concludes the BCG. “They need to identify the customer journeys that matter most and redesign them end to end, leveraging artificial intelligence, robotics, and other service enablers to improve both speed and decision making. Our data shows that retail banks that digitalise their most important customer journeys can see a 5% to 20% boost in revenue from improved service, increased relationship manager (RM) capacity, and enhanced data-enabled offerings. They also reduce costs 10% to 25% through improved cycle times, automation, and faster and more-accurate decision making.”