In recent years, there has been a huge growth in consumer appetite for digital content and access to mobile services across all industries – particularly in the retail banking industry. In order to meet increasingcustomerdemands, banks must have an all-encompassing strategy which brings together all appropriatechannels. This strategy allows bank customers to contact and connect with their bankeither in-branch, via telephone or through relatively new digital channels such as mobile and tablet, writes Travers Clarke-Walker

Banks need to address this need and bring new capabilitiesboth from a technical perspective, and more importantly from a customerperspective. The service offeringsmust evolvecontinually to match changing customerand business needs. One example of this is in regard to digital cheque processing – with regulations in the UK set to change to allow this technology, banks should consider how to roll this functionality out to their customers, particularly as it has proved very popular in other markets.

Growth of digital channels

While online banking has been available for around for over a decade now, mobile and tablet banking is still relatively new. These channels offer banks an excellent way of reaching their customers, provided that they are optimised for appropriate use cases – fast, on the go balance checks on mobile and more lengthy browsing sessions with tablets, for example. Even so, these channels should all be viewed as a complimentary service to the in-branch experience and not as a replacement.

While we are seeing more typical day-to-day banking transactions taking place online, the volume of in-branch transactions is not dramatically declining, but inevitably will as customers become more familiar and reassured by the security of digital channels Most people do still want the option to be able to speak to a relationship manager in-branch for certain types of more detailed financial transactions. This points to the convergence of online and mobile transaction behaviour, alongside trusted in-branch support and financial dialogue.

Currently most mobile banking applications are heavily transaction-led, but in the future, we expect to see this developfurther.Mobile and tablet banking will include additional services and features to create a more interactive and useful customer experience, such asonline relationship management utilisingvideo orinstant messaging for direct communication between the customer and the bank. We also expect innovative new features, such as Bank of the West’s Quick Balance technology, which allows customers to check their balances without logging in, to increasingly make a splash.

There will also be an evolution of the self-service functionality, allowing customers to make basic changesto personaldetails, such as change of address, or carry out basic administrative tasks like ordering a new debit or credit card or cheque book. Mobile banking applications will also increasingly offer the functionality to enable payments for goods and services.

Mobile wallet technologyis already making these services a reality and though the uptake of the technology in the UK has been slower, we expect the use of this technology to become increasingly commonplace.

Interaction with technology

With all this technology readily available, there is a risk that banks could become a commodity. Most banks recognise that they need to bring relevant products and services directly to the customer to ensure this doesn’t happen. One way to do this is to use the increasing number of customer logins that take place on the mobile channel.

Many customers log in to mobile banking on a daily basis, andbanks can analyse the underlying transactional data to gather actionable insights. These insights can then be used to offer additional products and services which further boost interaction with customers.

The combination of these two things provides banks with an incredibly rich opportunity- after all how many other applications do customer access on a daily basis?To capitalise on this, they must manageand analyse this data to provide real-time, relevant access to financial products that meet each individual customers’ needs there and then.In doing so, banks can ensure that they are incredibly relevant in customers day-to-day lives. This is both a crucialchallenge and an opportunity for the retail banks of today.

Technology is quickly becoming the first point of interaction between banks and their customers. In the future, we may see that transactions taking place in the branch today will besuperseded by the ease that mobile and tablet banking offer customers.

However, the in-branch experience will remain an important part of banking as the source of financial information, support and expertise, meaning that banks will increasingly have to tailor experiences to fit how customers want to use channels.

With recent rules now making it easier and faster than ever for customers to switch to a new bank, it will be those who can deliver a rich, integrated banking experience across all channels who will reap the rewards.

Travers Clarke-Walker is managing director of EMEA – International Group at Fiserv