Branch services transformation: Re-imagining customer experience at branches

Shiv Kumar Bhasin, CTO, State Bank of India, explains the disruptive tools and services SBI offers.

As consumer banking preferences continue to change, it is important for financial institutions to transform their branch networks. Despite high usage rates for Internet and mobile channels, it has been found that customers still derive value from branches. Representing and protecting the brand of an organisation, providing a physical presence and serving the full range of customer needs, the branch network has always been the heart of a bank’s franchise and revenue generating potential. Customers are increasingly clear (not to mention vocal) about how they view their branches. While they like the convenience of Internet Banking, they also like the personal nature of branch banking.

Branches—A New Multi-Channel/Omni-Channel Reality
Any banker can easily prove that electronic transactions, like balance inquiries and account transfers, are exponentially cheaper than the same transaction conducted through a bank representative either in a branch or through a call centre. Yet at the same time, face-to-face contact with a bank representative is still the most effective way of building revenue from high value sales and services. Optimising the channel mix as part of a multi-channel strategy to service and sell to customers is the new reality—and at the heart of this reality remains the branch.

Connecting with customer sentiment and tastes are significant aspects. Customers seek certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and to contribute within their relationships. Therefore, using high-tech and high-touch tools will provide a purposeful vision for banks. Having a ‘connected brand’ becomes an important aspect of maintaining your customer’s attention. The bank needs to consider aspects like digitalising the customer’s journey, creating video campaigns over products and services, launching social campaigns, and customising the customers overall experience. Fundamental changes in consumer behaviour should influence the bank’s corporate strategies, purpose and vision. There must be a value proposition for the customer.

Keeping the above facts in mind, I carried out few disruptive transformations of the SBU branches at State Bank of India by optimising the business processes and digitising the paper-based processes, ensuring digital presence in their day to day usage of paper.

Branch Teller Application Transformation: Core banking application is transformed by re-engineering of business processes, and re-imagining the user interface of branch teller application to provide next generation customer experience. It has cut down the time for tellers to serve the customers at branches from 30 per cent to 75 per cent.

SBI Digi Voucher: In the branch today, for most of the transactions, a customer needs to fill-up a paper form/voucher for cash withdrawal, cash/cheque deposit, draft issuance, NEFT/RTGS payments, etc, to carry out the transactions. These paper vouchers require paper manufactured from 50 trees/day. To digitise this process and re-imagine the customer experience, SBI Digi Voucher mobile application is created so that customers could fill up virtual vouchers on the mobile app in the comfort of their home/office before coming to the branch. Alternatively, if customers don’t have a smartphone, they can use the kiosk in the branch to fill up virtual vouchers electronically.

State Bank No Queue: This is a unique app to enable customers to book a Virtual Queue Ticket (e-Token) for select services at select SBI branches. Customers can generate e-Token before reaching the branch, thus avoiding waiting in the queue at the branch and saving valuable time. The app also conveys the estimated waiting time, number of customers ahead and a map showing the directions to reach the branch. Customers will be updated about their position in the queue through instant alerts.

Digitisation of Customer Acquisition and Account Opening Process: SBI Scribe facilitates digitisation of customer acquisition and saving account opening process. The customer need to fill up a paper form on the digital pad, which has customer handwriting recognition capability and this transmits the data real-time to Core Banking System. KYC documents are photographed/scanned by the branch staff and uploaded real-time. It enhances the customer experience by several notches, and saves time in making the customer account fully operational. And the customer walks out of the branch with fully operational account immediately during the branch visit of.

These are various disruptive tools and services offered by State Bank of India to enhance the customer experience in branches several notches above the current state. These are some of the key steps taken by the largest high street lender in India for complete digitisation of the banking process in branches and omni-channel experience across channels.


Shiv Kumar Bhasin

Shiv Kumar Bhasin is CTO at State Bank of India 

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