Retail banking has been transformed over the past decade and the role of the bank branch is also evolving fast, revising and adapting for today’s needs. Things you’d never have seen in a branch 10 years ago are becoming much more common, such as casual meeting spaces, digital hubs and cafés.
While these innovations have been steadily improving the bank branch customer experience, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be ignored. Moving forward, it will be essential to maintain the focus on making bank branches a comfortable, pleasant and useful environment, while taking into consideration the longer-term impact of the pandemic on behaviour.
As branch transformation and fintech continues to evolve, so will the opportunities for security surveillance, cybersecurity and advanced digital technology. Surveillance systems enhanced with artificial intelligence are now becoming the standard and open the door to numerous new analytics applications.
The global pandemic has only fuelled the motivation to examine how security technology – particularly video data analytics and network audio systems – can play a key role in taking banking into the future. Here we look at some of the areas of innovation.
Building a better and safer banking experience
If there’s one thing that every bank customer is familiar with, it’s a queue. First thing in the morning, lunchtimes and after work hours represent peak branch visiting times and nobody likes to wait in line.
Network surveillance cameras with queue monitoring analytics provide insights and real-time data for how many people are standing in line, providing alerts to notify staff when a queue threshold is hit. Statistics about queue fluctuations over the course of the day can help ensure staffing resources match future visitor traffic and needs.
Occupancy estimating analytics (often known as ‘people-counting’) provides real-time data on how many people are present in a branch or in specific areas at certain times. This can help branch managers improve how a space is used, get an indication of the revenue opportunity and optimise workforce planning and opening hours. Occupancy analytics can also create alerts when occupancy exceeds a set threshold.
Equipped with data about exactly how and when customers use branches, banks can optimise their branch assets and customer experience. Queue monitoring and occupancy estimating are two cost-effective ways to accomplish these goals. And in specific relation to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both queue monitoring and occupancy estimating analytics can also be used to ensure adherence with social distancing measures in bank branches.
How audio analytics can enhance retail banking
Network audio systems may not currently be a standard within retail banking, but their ability to improve a customer experience has been recognised by retailers for many years.
Background music creates a pleasant environment and can help during times when customers are waiting to be assisted. With appropriate zoning of background music, it can also be used to increase confidentiality in certain areas of the bank branch. Music played outside the branch can also deter loitering, as a subtle reminder of broader branch surveillance.
Beyond music, when combined with network surveillance cameras, triggered audio messages can help to prevent unwanted activity such as loitering in the ATM vestibule or around the branch. When used with cross line detection analytics, an audio message can be triggered whenever someone crosses a user-defined virtual line. For example, a message near ATMs stating: “Please remember to keep a distance until the customer in front of you has completed their transaction”.
Finally, in times of COVID-19, a reminder message to ensure social distancing can be played, along with alerts that help mobilise staff to assist visitors when the branch becomes particularly busy.
Making today’s banking solutions sustainable for tomorrow
Short-term solutions used during the pandemic have long-term potential as well. For instance, occupancy estimators today will lead to branch optimisation tomorrow. The current change in branch style to deliver a more relaxed customer experience – such as moving staff from behind a counter to a lounge area – will require a different approach to the placement of cameras and increase demand for smaller, less overt cameras that blend into the interior. These cameras will expand to provide not only security and safety, but also business intelligence through AI-based data analytics.
Planning for a safe and profitable branch transformation means anticipating future needs. The only way to accomplish this is to involve all stakeholders and partners in a discussion which covers the needs of both today and tomorrow. There are countless ways that having increasingly intelligent ‘eyes on everything’ can deliver a significant return on investment.
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