Friday, September 25, 2009

Bank branches are only good for one thing. Closing your account.

The Bankwatch blog had an interesting post this week: Survey shows shift in consumer preference away from visiting bank branches. I'm sure that there are many ways you can slice and dice the data, though I have some feeling that although this is not just about bank behavior, much of it is their own making.

The reducing number of people using branches is probably a reflection of the rate of transactions in all retail outlets. If there are less people pounding the pavement to go shopping, its likely that they'll also not be walking in to a bank.

There is also a bank MO that comes into play: trying to lock me in to their services. For example, when a bank insists I perform certain transactions in person (Citizens, when I want to withdraw a CD for example) that could be done by phone or Internet (ok, phone if their online banking system sucks), I tend to close ALL my accounts. If I'm going to make the effort of going to the branch, I'm going to make sure that I close everything, all in one go. Restrictive practices do not lock me in, they make me feel trapped and resentful.

I wonder how many people feel the same way, and whether that number is growing as the generation of kids who only know a 24/7 online world start earning cash that is deposited directly to their bank account. Why on earth would they want to deal with a 1970's style institution that insists they stand in line in a branch, waiting for someone to assist them. Unlikely, when even calling a call center in Mumbai, being in line is no worse than having to listen to crappy muzak and catching up on some Facebook or Twitter time.

Some banks seem to have it right: Bank of America, despite have an expansive branch network has started to say that certain transactions can only be done online. Which is good, as their online service is well thought out, and works well. (Its a shame you have to be a US citizen to open an account with them, even when you already hold an account, but that's not effecting much of their customer base I'm sure.)

Citizens Bank, maybe they're suffering from old school Scottish banking thinking. Plus they need systems and workflows to manage transactions that are not completed there and then by a teller in a branch. Nothing fancy, but enough to get the job done (contact me - online - I can help you!). Citizens, and likely many other banks, need to think about transitioning to an online only world, or just shutting their old-fashioned doors for good.

A post from the Improving It blog

Coming soon... Download the podcast of this blog post

1 comment:

markinson said...

In this time of rapid growing technologies.Everything has started getting online.Life has become more flexible and easy going.I don't think that whatever Bank of America has done is correct.Because, certain things which seem to be getting simpler will erupt generating big problems in the future
Business Process Management