As technology evolves, so it is necessary for services to evolve too, and banking is no exception. With so many banking options available, such as kiosk, online and telephonic banking, physical bank branches are struggling to remain relevant. This is where Bytes Managed Solutions enters the picture.
Bytes Managed Solutions (Bytes MS) is the local representative for NCR Corporation, a US-based company which this year celebrates 120 years of South African operations. Some of the products for which the company is renowned include point-of-sale (POS) terminals, automated teller machines (ATM), self-service kiosks and barcode scanners. One of the key services offered by NCR is Branch Effectiveness Modelling (BEM), which utilises a range of mathematical modelling and benchmarking tools to assess how banks can improve the customer/bank branch experience.

There’s no doubt that banking customers are visiting their bank branch far less frequently, and when they do go into a branch it’s often to resolve a problem. This means that while branch foot traffic may be dropping, the nature of the customer visits is changing. It’s therefore vital that branches get these ‘moments of truth’ right. NCR’s BEM Consultancy team evaluates a number of factors within the branch, such as customer volume, transaction mix, service bandwidth and consumer touchpoints, to provide the bank with an overview of the effectiveness of its branches and where improvements can be made.

According to John Cameron, Principal Consultant and Manager of the NCR BEM Consultancy division, retail banks typically are drowning in central system generated data but are short of easily accessible information based on actual customer behaviour, so the time spent gathering this from the branches is critical.

“There are many elements that we consider, and this also depends on what the bank has identified as focus areas. For instance, we may spend quite a bit of time looking at the interaction between the customer service desks and the tellers. Customers are time poor so they don’t like to have to go to different points with multiple associated waits to deal with various queries. We might suggest that the bank move some activities traditionally carried out by customer service consultants over to the tellers. This not only simplifies and therefore improves the customer’s experience, but it also frees up the desks for activities that are potentially more financially valuable to the bank.”

The BEM Consultancy team makes recommendations on an operational level, and although they form part of NCR, their recommendations are supplier and technology agnostic. This gives increased credibility to their recommendations, as they are not viewed as a sales pitch but rather as objective, data-driven findings.

John says that one of the most satisfying parts of his job is the number of repeat engagements he is part of, and the opportunity this affords him to see how many of their suggestions are implemented. A number of South Africa’s major retail banks are among these repeat engagements and John is greatly impressed by the advanced nature of retail banks in this country.

“South Africa is leading the way when it comes to the concept of a universal agent, that is, a customer service consultant and cash teller in one. This is pivotal to the continued efficiency of bank branches, as customers prefer to deal with one point of access. It is always an absolute pleasure working with banks in South Africa.”

In a fast-paced world of ever-changing technologies that lead to expectations of instant access and gratification, the banking sector is beginning to sit up and take notice of the fact that in order to retain customers, they have to adapt to these expectations or lose market share. With Branch Effectiveness Modelling assistance from Bytes Managed Solutions and NCR, South Africa’s major banks are on the right path to ensuring this happens.