Ovum Research: WFO Is Critical to Banks Looking at Transforming Their Branch Strategies

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Banks around the world are urgently redefining the role and value of the bank branch in response to changes in consumer channel preferences, particularly digital growth. As a result, banks are transforming how branches are used to support their customers. Ovum recently conducted a survey of retail banking executives, asking them to identify their current and emerging branch challenges, and looking at the ways the businesses are planning on investing in technology to derive more value from those branches.

Banks are trying to ensure that branches remain a relevant and effective element of a bank’s services mix. And as branch transformation evolves beyond transaction automation and self-service towards leveraging the distinctive capabilities of the branch, the survey results indicated that workforce optimization (WFO) technology is going to play an increasingly important role.

Ovum believes that many banks take too narrow a view of the key levers available to them. Branch transformation requires a more comprehensive approach that leverages the unique asset intrinsic to branches—namely face-to-face human interaction.

The study found that customer self-service technology, such as in-branch self-service kiosks, remains a common investment area across all the regions surveyed. This finding underlines our assessment that many banks across the globe are still in the relatively early phase of the branch transformation process. Many banks are still focused on technology that helps reduce branch and transaction costs (although these technologies also have some positive impact on customer satisfaction).

Many banks have already begun to invest in some WFO components as part of their branch transformation strategy, and will continue to do so for the next 18 months at least. Key areas of investment include e-learning, coaching and employee performance scorecards; scorecards in particular are strongly aligned with the banks’ need to support staff in the migration from traditional transaction-oriented activities to increasingly sales and service-focused roles.

The ability to accurately forecast branch demand, and appropriately schedule employees across the branch network, is increasingly important against a backdrop of reduced customer visits to the branch and reduced headcount per branch as a result.

Ovum found that banks are planning to invest in key WFO tools for monitoring staff and customer interactions, particularly to understand how these drive customer satisfaction and how improvements can be made relating to both sales and service.

Desktop and process monitoring solutions will also see significant growth—both to identify in-branch process bottlenecks and to ensure staff are spending the most time focused on critical activities. In addition, all these emerging WFO components have a significant role in addressing the key challenge of maintaining regulatory compliance by enforcing mandatory processes and by providing audit trails of branch staff’s activities.

The impact of digital channels on the way in which bank transactions are conducted is hard to understate—in some emerging retail banking markets where a generally younger and ‘digital native’ customer base forms the majority of account holders, as much as 95% of transactions now occur outside of the branch.

But banks cannot abandon the branch network. Instead they have to find ways to accommodate the very real customer requirement for face-to-face interaction with branch staff across a variety of needs, ranging from simple servicing through complex financial advice and planning. It appears to Ovum that many banks are aware of the real-world benefits that WFO can bring to branch operations, and they are learning to use those tools to derive value from their branch networks.

Join Ovum’s Daniel Mayo, Chief Analyst, Financial Services, and Jenni Palocsik, Solutions Marketing Director, Verint Systems, on September 17, 2015, for a complimentary 30-minute webinar—they will discuss findings from Ovum’s report, “The Role of Workforce Optimization in Bank Branch Transformation.” Register today to reserve your spot.

 

 

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