The Bank of Tomorrow: People-Centric Banking Innovations

05 August 2019 by National Bank of Canada
Banking innovations

Innovation in the banking industry has come a long way since the first automated teller machine in 1967. These days, with mobile payment, chatbots and categorized transactions, we are seeing more and more banking innovations. What will the bank of tomorrow look like, and how will it affect our lives?

Banking made easy

While many may believe that the future rests solely on robotics and machines, the opposite is true. “Our main priority is to focus on people and the customer experience. With all the technology we’re working on, the most important thing is to fulfill a need and concentrate our efforts on the impact we will have on our clients and employees,” says Julien Crowe, Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology Leader at National Bank. 

As you get used to new technology and innovations that are becoming increasingly widespread in our everyday lives – think voice-activated gadgets and smartwatches, for example – you’ll also see your everyday banking improve. Experts from the finance industry are looking to things like artificial intelligence, the field of machine learning based on computer data. Technology allows us to develop new banking solutions in order to make banking easier for you. 

That’s why innovation, which includes marketing new or improved products or service, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your habits; rather, it seeks to improve them. 

For example, it’s now easier than ever to make your monthly budget or keep track of your cash inflow and outflow. Thanks to the transaction site, each expense you make is tallied by category (mortgage or rent, groceries, credit card payment, etc.), which allows users to get a clear picture of their spending without having to calculate everything manually. The need is the same, but the method is now easier and faster

More fluid communication

Communication methods have evolved, and financial institutions understand this well. You can still head to your local branch or call customer service, but new tools are available so it’s easier to contact your financial institution. 

Notably, the chatbot offers users more flexibility. Once contact has been initiated on Facebook Messenger, the chatbot offers a variety of interactions. It’s available around the clock to book an appointment at your local branch or refer you to a specialized financial advisor. 

But the consumer still controls the interactions. “The chatbot is trained by people. It begins its interaction with the consumer and if everything goes well, it takes charge of the client relationship from A to Z. As soon as something more complex enters the conversation, or if the client indicates that they want to interact with a person, the interaction is automatically transferred to a customer service advisor,” explains Julien Crowe.

Machine learning and AI technology are developing the ability to understand clients via digital channels and offer a more personalized level of service that better meets client needs. 

An enhanced experience 

“Whether we’re talking digital or physical channels, there’s a slew of techniques developed to understand the client and their needs, such as design thinking, an innovative and people-centric design method. We determine the problem the client is facing and how we could solve it, whether through AI, solutions that already exist, or solutions that involve human interaction. We try to view customer experience in a different way so we can have a positive impact on their lives,” adds Olivier Berrod, Managing Director of NBC’s Innovation Lab. 

The new in-branch experience, which was rolled out in Saint-Canut, Mirabel and will have a wider presence throughout the network next year, was actually developed according to this idea. As soon as customers enter a branch, they will be greeted with a brand-new customer service experience. Rather than lining up for a teller, they will be welcomed right away by advisors with whom they can have a dynamic conversation in an open, laidback atmosphere. This environment enables guidance and sensitization to the different aspects of finance.

The advisors also inform clients of the various digital solutions offered by the bank, while allowing them to perform their transactions with a teller or by themselves. These branches are adaptable and benefit from technological advances to offer quick and efficient service. This innovative experience is a direct response to clients’ evolving needs.

Value-added service

Automating certain tasks that used to be carried out by advisors allows more bank employees to concentrate on advising rather than performing repetitive but necessary tasks. They are then able to offer clients added value. 

“Employees can concentrate on value-added tasks. From an organizational perspective, it transforms the job and helps the work to evolve,” explains Olivier Berrod. 

From the customer’s point of view, this translates to an increase in their level of satisfaction since transactions are performed faster. 

While it can be hard to predict the future, everything leads us to believe that the bank of tomorrow will be accessible, innovative and more focused than ever on people and ground-breaking ways to better meet their needs. 

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