Monday, 29 July 2019

As customers are able to do more and more of their banking online or using a mobile device, it seems fair to assume there would be less and less of a demand for bank branches. However, that is not the case at all.

Twenty-five years after online banking was first introduced and nearly a decade after mobile apps let us bank from our smartphones, bank branches are still around and people still use them. In fact, people want them.

A recent survey reported that 80 percent of millennials want to be able to walk into a bank branch. Other surveys made similar findings, typically reporting that an overwhelming majority of people want access to a physical bank. Even though the use of digital banking channels is on the rise, Americans simply aren't ready to say goodbye to bank branches.

Why is having both options — clicks and bricks — so important to banking customers?

Clicks-and-bricks provide convenience

It's simple: people want banking to be as easy and convenient as possible. And that means they want to be able to bank whenever and wherever they want to. If they're out and want to grab some quick cash, they want a branch of their bank nearby. But they want to be able to check their balance while sitting in a baseball stadium too. It takes clicks and bricks to meet both of those needs.

Clicks-and-bricks give customers options

Everyone banks differently — and banking habits can even change from day to day.

One day a customer might have the time to swing by a branch to make a deposit, while another day time is tight and they need to utilize mobile deposit. Because customers' needs are constantly changing, it's unreasonable to try to funnel all customers into one banking channel.

It's just not going to happen. Some customers are never going to be comfortable depositing a check through a mobile app, while others don't remember the last time they wrote a paper check.

Banking is also very personal. Some people want to talk to a human being when they have a question, while others are perfectly satisfied with the assistance of an online bot. Again, only a bank with physical branches and robust digital tools can meet the needs of all their customers.

You need bricks to keep banking personal

Even though many — mostly larger — banks make it possible to open and fund a checking or savings account online, 60 percent of consumers still prefer to open an account in a branch. There are other times when people may prefer a human to help them. For example first-time home buyers might want to be able to speak to a mortgage banker as they start their application. Other customers might prefer a sort of hybrid process, such as starting to open an account online and then finishing it in the branch.

More than anything, people want choices and the flexibility to bank in the way that's most convenient for them. Which means while online bots and instant messaging can work for some people, others want the human touch of bank branches.

But all clicks-and-bricks are -not created -equal

Convenience, options, and personal service are certainly good reasons to choose a bank with both physical branches and digital services. But not all clicks-and-bricks banks are created equal.

Some banks might not have the resources to invest in digital banking services, but they know they need to offer them in order to be competitive. The end result is often digital banking that's more clunky and frustrating than visiting a branch could ever be.

In fact, one of the reasons people gave for why they preferred to open an account in a branch is because online account-opening systems were confusing or just too difficult.

So, when it comes to the click factor, it's important to select a bank with digital tools that are robust and easy to use. BBVA's Mobile App has been repeatedly recognized by the financial technology industry for its ease of use and intuitive design.

As far as physical branches go, how many branches a bank has and where they are located are key to making them actually convenient to customers. A bank with two branches and out-of-this-world digital services can claim to have “clicks and bricks" but when it comes down to making banking convenient for customers, two branches probably isn't going to cut it.

Finding a bank with the right balance

Again, a bank offering both physical branches and digital tools will likely be the best option for most banking customers. So before you choose a bank, be sure to do your research and find a bank that offers multiple convenient branch locations and outstanding digital banking services. That way, you'll get the best of both worlds. 

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