Mobile Banking Growth Demands New Branch Sales Strategy



For about a year, I have been using a mobile deposit app where I use my smart phone to make deposits by taking a picture of my checks and transmitting them to my institution.  I have to say, I absolutely love this application.  It is a killer banking app as far as I am concerned.  It is a game changer because the number one reason I go to a branch would be to make a deposit.  Sure, for years we have used on-line banking and bill pay.  We all thought they were pretty cool,  but mobile deposits is the Holy Grail when it comes to providing a convenient way to bank for most customers.

So, now we see our banking customers heading towards the mobile banking light at hyper speed.  This poses a major problem for community and regional organizations where differentiation is based upon personalized service in the branch.  Additionally, if most organizations use the branch visit as an opportunity to learn more about the customer and discuss possible cross-sell opportunities, how will this one killer app on a smart phone change the landscape forever?  Most importantly, how must the branch sales culture change to support a model where we may never see our customer face to face?  

To be honest, when smart phones started coming out with cameras, I thought to myself, "Why do I really need a camera on my phone?"  What I really wanted was a phone that did not drop a call.  Would that be so hard to build?   Anyway, as the years rolled on and the mobile deposit apps hit the marketplace, I realized the value of the convenience factor of this app.  It is so easy to take two pictures on your phone and transmit a check.  A few minutes later the deposit is in my account.    
Now, if you are a community bank, regional bank or credit union, I would bet one of the defining elements woven into the fabric of your institution is your ability to be a customer centric, face-to-face,  relationship building organization.  Ok, so how do you keep and continue this tradition in the face of a killer app like this?  There is no doubt, you will now see less and less customers walking through the door each week.  How do you build your customer centric brand when every customer just thinks of a bank as a transaction house on their mobile phone instead of a one-on-one financial advisor?

The answer to the question is simple.  Your sales culture must evolve.  If you are going to differentiate your organization as a relationship building organization, you cannot wait for customers to just walk in the door.  You need a new strategy focused on communicating with your customer using both telephone and email without hesitation.  In the past, you may have never called your customer unless they bounced a check.  Now you NEED to call and email your customer on a consistent basis or you will never have the chance to grow the relationship like you had in the past with branch visits. 

What this means to the branch is that the game has changed.  Job functions must be redefined.  Touching customers via outbound calls and emails are new sales metrics for evaluating branch associate performance.  Keep in mind, phone skills and email writing skills are required for this sport.  Both written and verbal communication skills are key.  Do we want our branch associates sending out emails with lots of see you 2moro and XOXOs  and other texting acronyms,  or do we want them using real words.  This all translates into how your brand will be perceived by your customer and is a very important factor not to be overlooked. 

Finally, how will you manage the contacts?    Will this be the Wild West and we just start calling up our customers randomly each day?   What if we call one customer 2-3 times this week because one person did not know we called the customer previously?  What if we miss out on the most important customer calls like maturing CDs or maybe a call where a large deposit was made into an account just last night?  Using customer banking behavior and analytics to help drive your outbound strategy is the way to go.  You will need a system to help centrally manage this for you or mistakes will be made. 
When you look at it, the smart phone has and continues to change banking as we know it.  It is time to consider your approach and put in place retention and growth strategies that work.  It is time to bring this topic into your management meetings now.  Don’t wait or it may be too late.