Digitally-savvy retailers have for long worked on strategies that fluidly combine a physical and online presence. With a strong digital presence and creative strategies, they have been able to offer personalised experiences to their customers. Such extensive and personal engagement by retailers have largely influenced customer expectations. The banking and financial industry is not immune to these expectations. With customers willing to shop around; drop service providers, when not satisfied, banks and financial institutions must step up their game.
Long before the pandemic hit, banks were pushing customers to go digital. While digital banking has its pros, technology does not have all the answers (certain complex transactions still need human intervention). This is precisely why some human interaction will always be a part of banking. Considering this, banks must explore offering services that will allow a physical interaction between customers and banks, bearing in mind the conveniences of the customers.
An increased focus on technology must be combined with creative ways to bring branches into the homes/offices of their customers- Doorstep Banking.
Doorstep Banking – What is it?
With doorstep banking, customers can expect banking and financial services to be delivered right at their doorstep. Marketing personnel, Sales executives, banking agents, or business correspondents in the field can use banking solution tools to access and/or upload information to the bank’s central hub. Some of the services that may be offered
- Account opening, Cash deposits, and Cash Withdrawals
- Cheques and Forex Transactions
- Investment Advisory Services
- Insurance Advisory Services
- Documentation and others
- Paperwork Pick-up and Drop
The doorstep banking software platform will enable financial institutions and banks to offer a seamless customer experience to their clients in the comfort of their home. Typically, solutions are not only easy and effective, but user-friendly, flexible, and AI-enabled. Further, the technology can also be easily customised to suit the needs of any financial institution or bank.
- Digital Onboarding: Banks can provide an end-to-end banking experience for their customers, beginning with the digital onboarding process. Traditionally, the process is known to be tedious and expensive. Customers are required to go through several processes, making it time-consuming too. On the other hand, digital onboarding through doorstep banking allows agents to approach customers at their locations and accomplish the same within a few minutes. Armed with gadgets, biometric verifications, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems, and access to the bank’s database, agents can take on the role of a physical branch easily.
- Ease of Operation: Using hand-held devices, scanners and other devices, agents may upload images and files, capture Identification cards, and scan other necessary documentation. Further, customers may conduct OTP-based transactions using cards, wallets, or cash to make payments. Also, agents will be able to issue instant receipts for such transactions.
- Building and Managing the Agent Network Doorstep Banking will enhance the customer experience to a great extent while building a viable network of branchless banking agents. Digital tools and a well-designed platform provide real-time support and guidance to agents. These tools can allocate jobs to agents according to skill, accessibility, and proximity. As technology assists banks to manage their field agents, agents can interact with the bank’s database equally well too.
For example, In the State Bank of India case, Doorstep Banking Agents of SBI will be assigned a customer after the first level of verification conducted by Call Centre Agents. On verification of the customer, service requests are placed through the Doorstep Banking web portal; accessed through the agent’s mobile.
- Aids to Reduce/Detect Frauds: It is important to assure customers that the process is as safe as transactions conducted in the branch. Technological innovations and aids such as biometrics (fingerprint and face recognition) procedures, time stamps, location-based confirmations/check-ins, and OTP-based transactions/handovers make Doorstep Banking convenient, safe, and secure. Software solutions that provide identity and access management systems along with fraud detection tools help in the prevention/detection of frauds and data protection while complying with necessary regulatory requirements.
In October of 2020, India’s top public sector bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) said in a tweet- “Why go to the bank when the bank is ready to visit your home?”. SBI’s doorstep delivery services include cash delivery/pickup, chequebook requisitions, and other non-financial services such as Investment advice. While the services were first rolled out to senior citizens alone, it has since been made available to all customers. Here’s how banks will benefit from offering this to their customers.
- Offer a better customer experience- With the fear of the pandemic hanging over everyone, most people are choosing online or digital banking methods. By approaching customers at workplaces or homes, banks can bring banking to their doorstep, improving their experience considerably.
For instance, when customers need to drop off paperwork at the bank, banking Agents may be contacted, saving time and effort. Better customer experiences lead to more cross-selling/upselling opportunities and better customer retention rates.
- Accountable Agents- One of the biggest challenges that banks face with regards to banking agents and field operations is accountability. This can be easily and effectively tackled with the help of AI-based intelligent software solutions. For instance, Location intelligence software comes with analytical abilities and spatial data visualization. These capabilities offer banks a wonderful opportunity to record, measure and optimize the performance of field agents, leading to better productivity on all fronts.
- Cost-effective and paperless Banking Operations– Doorstep Banking relies on smart technology, and this means reduced paperwork, making it cost-effective. Further, customers can save time as they conduct financial transactions at homes/offices. For instance, small businesses may find that it is cost-effective and easy to engage the bank’s agents to set up a cash deposit or withdrawal service.
A simple and well-designed platform can help banks digitize the document capturing process, automate the KYC checks, and ease the onboarding process.
- Expanding your customer base: The key advantage of having bank personnel on the ground is that it is a proactive approach. Banks can reach out to customers in remote locations, as they offer a range of basic and value-added services to their customers.
As customers complain about “time constraints or hectic schedules” preventing them from coming to a branch, why not take the branch to them!