In-Branch Customer Connectivity: Preliminary Research Finds that Banks Prioritize Customer-Facing Technologies over Connected Personnel

brought to you by WBR Insights

Determining the right balance of technology and personnel is a growing challenge as banks focus on perfecting their in-branch strategies. Now, banks are developing new techniques for staffing and technology adoption to deliver on both efficiency, financial, and customer experience requirements. But what do those techniques involve, and how can they create the most desirable environments ahead of their competition?

In our upcoming report, From Teller Line to Teller-less, we investigate how developing customer-facing technologies such as automated services, video conferencing, and self-service tools are transforming the physical bank for customers and their expectations.

The WBR Insights research team conducted its initial research featuring banks of a range of sizes. Respondents represented mostly credit unions and community banks, but also included national and global financial institutions. The initial findings indicate a stark contrast between how banks are prioritizing empowering customers directly versus increasing technology training and adoption for in-branch personnel themselves.

Banks prioritize customer empowerment in their competitive in-branch approach

Most banks in the study claim they are approaching the competitive field without an advantage, including some who are falling considerably behind their competitors. Thirty-nine percent claim they are only average compared to their competitors in terms of their in-branch technology and customer service capabilities. Another 16% claim they are behind their competitors but making progress; 3% claim they are behind competitors and are making no meaningful progress at all. (2 data points were omitted from the initial study and will appear in the final report.)

Both in-branch technology and training investments drive customer-facing technology adoption

Researchers asked respondents to elaborate on how they will drive competitive advantages, highlighting stark differences between their customer-facing technology and in-branch personnel training initiatives. Most companies prioritize the former, while in-branch training initiatives focus on educating customers in the use of those customer facing technologies—rather than empowering personnel with back-end technology capabilities. In fact, over two times as many banks are prioritizing both automated services (68%) and self-service tools (61%), in each case, in lieu of connected personnel (29%). (5 data points were omitted from the initial study and will appear in the final report.)

Asked to expand on their in-branch training practices, banks focus on traditional efforts to personalize and improve customer experiences (68%) while also emphasizing new strategies (57%) and a deeper understanding of customer-facing technologies (68%). Fewer banks (43%) prioritize training in-branch personnel on new back-end systems, indicating banks are prioritizing self-service capabilities as part of their overall technology investment strategies. (7 data points were omitted from the initial study and will appear in the final report.)


In our upcoming report, we will expand on these findings with a broader focus on national, international, and global financial institutions for a more in-depth and segmented comparison of the consumer banking environment. In addition to analysis of the broader trends associated with the subjects in this article, we'll explore key pain points and direct, qualitative commentary on the main drivers for in-branch transformation today.

The report—From Teller Line to Teller-less: Aligning Your Mix of In-Branch Employees and Technologies with Customer Interests—will be available for download on the Future Branches website on October 9, 2019.

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