The amount of tablet owners is set to double by 2018.
Tablets are the easier option for many people: they have a larger screen than the average smartphone and their compact size makes them more portable than laptops.
Photo by Sacha Müsse
Many retailers are realising the tablet’s popularity and have already taken advantage of it as a marketing tool. The visual impact is better than a smartphone: the user can easily zoom in on an item to see detailing, description, and customer reviews. People who use tablets tend to do so in the evenings while relaxing on their sofa – not unlike the home PC – and therefore tablets are quickly establishing themselves as the main household device.
And so with the increased use of technology in retail, customers are now expecting other areas of their lives to become more engaging. One such area is banking, where traditionally, customer service opinions are low.
Photo by Jason Milich
Banking Gets a Make-Over
Last year, the BBC reported that the Canadian banking group North Shore Credit Union has a branch that offers you hot towels and cappuccinos, while you wait to be seen in a waiting room perfumed with aromatherapy candles and soothing music. While that sounds relaxing, it seems unlikely that customers who earn an average salary would want to use a bank with these facilities; after all, you have to remember who is paying for all the niceties…
Although many customers still see fees and interest rates as the most influential aspects of choosing a bank, we want our branches to be pleasant and comfortable enough, so we don’t absolutely dread going there in person. Perhaps not as extravagant as hot towels and scented candles, unless you are very wealthy: then you would have a reason to spend a good deal of time with your bank manager!
Photo by Evan Blaser
In Australia the CBA bank has teamed up with an estate agent and created something a little more useful: a mobile app for customers who want a mortgage. Customers can view properties, apply for a mortgage, and use their tablet to pay the deposit. If they need to talk to a bank employee, all they need to do is make an appointment and visit their local branch: a good example of technology and traditional banking methods working together.
There’s no doubt that online banking has made life easier; we are now able to conduct simple transactions such as transfers and payments using our phones and PCs. Wasting a lunchtime queuing up in a draughty bank, while the guy from the shop up the road is counting out £300 worth of change, is thankfully a thing of the past for most of us.
Photo by Raffaele Esposito
…Is Not the End of Bank Branches
Banks are well aware that people today want a better customer service experience, but according to the Financial Software Company Misys: ‘…despite growing tablet ownership and the perfect match between devices and functions, there are still only a few dozen dedicated tablet banking apps in the stores compared to the hundreds of mobile banking ones.’
It’s not that bank customers want to see an end to bank branches, even though in future, there may be less of them. Banks need to fuse technological and traditional banking methods to increase efficiency while maintaining the important element of human interaction so that people still feel like they are being cared for. If a customer wishes to talk in person about their account, they should still have the choice to do so.
Photo Mattew G
Bridge the Generation Gap
Banks need interaction and engagement in order to sell their products and services. Although the younger generation will be more focused on electronic interaction through tablets and smartphones, this isn’t necessarily the case for older customers.
A recent study by Santander found that ‘older people in Britain are more at risk of being scammed than other age groups… [with] around three million over-65s believ[ing] they have been the victims of fraud.’ Because of this greater danger online, many of over-65s still prefer to talk face-to-face when dealing with investments or pensions, despite many of them being proficient tablet and computer users.
Tablets won’t replace bank branches, but their increased usage will mean that banks can’t delay the digital process, if they want to keep the customers they already have and encourage new ones.
Title image by Esther Vargas.